Dining out and staying on plan – YES!
One of the constant struggles I hear from people who are trying to lose weight is concern over how to maintain a social life and eat out while on a plan/program. I am a social being by nature, so for me it was absolutely critical to figure out how to get comfortable dining out and staying 100% on my nutritional plan. It is one of the best things I do!
This past week I traveled to Santa Barbara, California, with a friend for my birthday and brought this skill to a whole new level. My friend, Lori, is in mid-journey and on the same nutritional plan that I implemented to achieve my fat loss. We embarked on vacation with the goal of having Lori stay on plan 100%, including keeping her weigh-in on Saturday during our vacation.Lori got a ‘free’ meal where the reigns were loosened on Saturday night after weigh-in. So we planned our most fun night on the town for Saturday and selected carefully where to eat.
I am proud to report that Lori was 100% on plan the entire vacation. I mean this girl rocked it! She even rivaled me – the pro – with her on-plan-success this vacation.
Lori’s success – and my past success – prove that you can live freely and enjoy your life while losing weight. What’s even better, her goal of being 100% on plan helped me stay on track and not go nuts – which I could do on vacation. So it was a win-win! We enjoyed wonderful food from Santa Barbara, had a great time, loved the challenge of making it all work, and both came home feeling proud of our accomplishment.
Here are some tips for how we stayed on track that might help you when you vacation or eat out.
- We planned in advance. We knew that we had a birthday celebration on Thursday night at a great restaurant and had to choose a place that would work with us on a ‘clean’ menu. (‘Clean’ to me means no sauces or extra nonsense; food prepared in water, steamed, grilled with no or very, very light olive oil.) It was Valentine’s Day so this was NOT easy. Many restaurants, including Opal Restaurant & Bar on State Street where we dined had special, pre-prepared menus and inventive drinks. We ended up working with the manager directly who served us and had food specially prepared without the “extras.” And it was awesome! We both had the scallops. Yum. We even got long-stemmed red roses to take home. And the waitress gave us tips on Santa Barbara nightlife – an added bonus for this party girl! 😉 I highly recommend Opal Restaurant and Bar if you are ever in Santa Barbara.
- We set ourselves up for success & had a back up plan. We knew the day we spent in Santa Barbara wine country would be a challenge. So we packed a cooler with our chicken salads readily prepared just in case. In fact, we traveled with that cooler and our salads on a couple of different days. We ended up eating out in wine country and doing just fine, but we had our picnic lunch just in case. The very best and first thing we did after we landed at our rental house with a full kitchen, was make a grocery list and go shopping for healthy food. This meant we could eat breakfasts and lunches at home or on the road, while eating out only 1-2x per day. We bought a case of water and carried water with us everywhere. And our almonds and protein were never far away. We even bought two containers for our salads and borrowed a cooler from the host at our house so we could eat on the go if needed.
- Learned how to engage our server in our success. Lori and I are not shy! And I have always subscribed to the theory that if you tell people your story and engage them in your success, they are happy to help. This meant telling servers of our combined -300 lb weight loss, telling them we’re on a special program, and asking for their help to make sure portion sizes were smaller and food was prepared without any extra “nonsense” – butter, sauces, too much oil, etc. We did this with 100% success.
- Supported each other in the weaker moments. Traveling with someone who is committed to your success also helps. There were times when each of us wanted to go “off the rails.” In those times, the other was able to question whether that is REALLY what we wanted and help the other stay focused on the big picture. It helps to travel with someone who understands and supports your success. My advice is to engage them and give them permission to be direct with you.
We had challenges on this trip, don’t get me wrong. But they were fun challenges and we tackled them together and even had some good laughs. When we first arrived at the house, we saw a beautiful angel food birthday cake on the table made by our host Diana. (So incredibly sweet!) Diana was quick to tell us that she told her friend in Weight Watchers about our combined weight loss and her friend said, “You can’t make them a regular birthday cake, you have to do angel food cake with strawberries and fat-free cool whip! 😉 Well, the cake was gorgeous and looked scrumptious. But I don’t eat refined sugar at ALL anymore and Lori couldn’t eat it on plan of course. So, we tucked it away in the frig with the intent that we would take a photo and then gift the cake. It was there the entire week tempting us.
I don’t know how Lori did it, but she managed to spend an entire day in Santa Barbara wine country and didn’t drink. We discussed whether this is what she really wanted to do and she did. She was such a trooper. It turned out she was an excellent designated driver and we had a lot of fun. We drove through the mountains and did a photo shoot where we met a nice cow; toured the town of Los Olivos and had an on plan lunch; visited the garden store; and the town of Solvang and even Ostrich Land – from the movie Sideways. All things that one could enjoy NOT centered around wine. Though admittedly for me, I was in wine heaven.
On Saturday night we picked an amazing restaurant called Stella Mare in Montecito and we lived it up. We used the night of our free meal to experience the sauces and the flare of the Santa Barbara food. It was fabulous. If you go to Santa Barbara, visit Stella Mare and order the ilet de Porc…marinated grilled pork tenderloin with goat cheese mashed potatoes,braised Swiss chard and an apricot – cherry gastrique. It is to die for. It is not on plan. But we enjoyed every single bite. Amazing! This restaurant is a do not miss.
While in Santa Barbara and eating on plan, we enjoyed incredible fish and seafood minus the ‘nonsense,’ had some spectacular salads, enjoyed fresh fruit off the citrus trees in the backyard, and – in my case – paired these incredible California foods with some of the best Sav Blanc and Pinot Noir I’ve ever had. Yay! So we did not feel deprived. Quite the contrary. It was amazing.
Kudos to my friend Lori who now gets the award for being a “pro” at eating out and eating on plan when the going is especially tough. I am so excited and proud of her. 100% on plan for seven weeks running. 🙂 I emailed coach Leif when we returned beaming with pride. I think if there is a certificate for coaching others in how to enjoy life and stay on your nutritional plan, you are looking at two experts. Any questions?!
My other blogs about healthy eating: