A Change Is Gonna Come

*The title of this post was taken from the Sam Cooke song of the same name*

Are your social gatherings and business trips getting in the way of your weight loss goals?

I can assure you, you are not alone.

Many of our clients are busy, working professionals. They attend charity events, business luncheons, and are frequently called upon to travel in-state and out-of-state to fulfill their job responsibilities. As you can imagine, this type of schedule can make it difficult to adhere to a diet plan.

Over the years, I’ve found a handful of strategies that can work well to keep you closer to your goals. These are by no means exhaustive but a place to start if you find that your work is getting in the way of your health.

Pack calorie controlled snacks. This can include meal replacement bars, protein powders, fruits (apples, bananas, oranges), jerky (beef, turkey, seitan), etc. If you’re flying, you may have to purchase these types of items at the airport as opposed to bringing them through security in your carry-on luggage.

Schedule your workouts. If you plan to get a workout in (strength training or endurance/cardio work), you may be less inclined to go off the grid with your diet. This applies whether you are at the mercy of a business luncheon or in a hotel. Making a commitment to your exercise can be a good mental cue to not let the diet get off track for the day either. As many of us are bound to our schedules and itineraries, if you see your workout scheduled for the day, it can be the positive reinforcement you need to keep priorities in place.

-Know Your Menu. You may have advance notice of the menu at any luncheon, dinner or charity event you attend. Start looking at it ahead of time so you know how to navigate the selections without letting hunger guide you once you arrive. Appetizers, alcoholic beverages, bread baskets, etc. can lead to excessive calories that weren’t previously budgeted for. If you can start telling yourself what you plan to have before you get to your destination, the decision making gets easier when you have to choose your meal.

-When In Doubt, Opt Out. Sometimes, the safest option you can go for is something heavy in lean proteins (chicken, turkey, fish, tofu) and heavy in vegetables that aren’t drowning in sauces, oils and dressings. This can include options like grilled chicken breasts with a side of steamed broccoli or a salad with dressing on the side and no cheese (which can add hundreds of calories alone.) Never be afraid to ask for substitutes of menu items or to see what preparation options are available for your meals. Just because something isn’t on the menu doesn’t mean it can’t be requested. Most importantly, if things like french fries are trigger foods for you, subbing out with something that is “safer” for you may be your best bet.

-Shrug Off The Saboteurs. It rarely fails, you’ll have the colleague or friend who sees your best efforts to eat right and teases you with questions like “Are you on a diet?” or “Are you sure you don’t want just ONE?” One of my favorite responses to this came from a former client, Mark who said “I’m not on a diet, I’m training.” To which his friends asked, “Training for what?” His response, “Training to get off my medications.” Reframing your mission so others understand where you’re coming from can keep you from making impulsive diet decisions because those around you aren’t on the same journey.

-If You Can’t Change The Circumstances, Change Your Actions. For many people, they just can’t escape the fact their jobs aren’t ideal environments for a healthy lifestyle. Rather than assume that the job will automatically require less travel or fewer luncheons someday, learn how to control your environment and behaviors so these job characteristics are less of a distraction. There will always be holidays, birthdays, and social gatherings to get in the way. Success comes from planning for, around and through them NOT by assuming they will adapt for us.

As with so many things regarding our health, fitness, nutrition and goals, change starts from within. Once we accept that, it becomes easier to plan accordingly with the external distractions that could otherwise derail us.