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How To Maintain Balance Between A Healthy Lifestyle And A Fun Social Life

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Over the years, my biggest dietary challenge has been maintaining a fit body while still having fun. If I ate alone and went to bed early, I knew I’d be skinny in the morning, but hand me a boyfriend or a party and my limits would go out the window.

The sad truth is, it's easier to lose/maintain weight if you avoid social events. The real challenge is when life gets in the way of your own “plans” and causes you to reassess your jaded sacrifices.

I know many women (including myself) who have turned down dinner plans or a night out with friends because of their diet. Salads and going to sleep early may get you that flat stomach, but what is the point of it if you can't show it off?

How can you maintain your weight without skipping out on fun life experiences? Your best bet is to avoid sabotaging yourself. I've slowly learned how to balance diet through trial and error, and I would be lying if I said this wasn't still somewhat of a challenge for me.

Below, you’ll find some tips I’ve found most helpful in achieving a balance of food and fun:

Eating Out

Don't starve yourself until dinner when you have reservations at 8 pm. Plan your snacks and choose wisely.

This means start the day off with a balanced, filling breakfast full of protein and fiber. Think whole grain toast and unsalted nut butter (almond, peanut, cashew), or oatmeal with Greek yogurt and berries, or egg whites and a wholegrain English muffin.

All of these foods will rev up your metabolism. Don't skimp on healthy snacks throughout the day, either. This, too, will keep your metabolism moving at a nice steady pace. "Pre-eat" about 200 to 250 calories two or three hours before dinner to avoid overdoing it. When ordering, look for key menu words, such as baked, broiled, grilled, sauteed, steamed and stir-fried. Avoid words like au gratin, battered, basted, covered, creamy and smothered.

Going Out

Everyone likes a nice buzz, but no one likes a "beer belly" or worse, a "wine belly."  Not to mention feeling and looking hungover post-fiesta always puts a huge damper on my mood.

Above all, the first rule is to ALWAYS indulge in moderation. It’s also essential to alternate drinks with water to avoid the pounding headache the next morning. Order low calorie/low sugar choices such as brut champagne or cava, dry white wines such as Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay, or light beers.

Vodka, gin and other light-colored liquors contain less calories, but you're more likely to lose your inhibitions, which could lead to binging on foods you normally wouldn't eat later.

Sure, three slices from Bleecker Street Pizza at 2 am sounds like a great idea, but it's pretty likely you will feel awful the next morning.

On-The-Go

Staying busy is great for your overall well-being, but when you don't plan ahead, it can lead to poor diet choices. This one is simple: PACK SNACKS!

So simple, yet for some reason many will find themselves ordering convenient choices like a chocolate chunk cookie from Starbucks or salted pretzels from a bodega.

We all know what healthy snack choices are, but the key is to plan ahead and come armed with them. It makes a huge difference in your hunger levels and mood when you carry a KIND bar or an apple instead of popping into a cafe for a pastry.

Relationships

When you're single, it is more likely you will be able to stick to your healthy eating schedule.  You're more likely to go to pilates after work instead of going home to prep for a carb-ridden dinner date. Toss another person in the mix and calories can start adding up inevitably.

Even though you are very happy with broiled organic salmon and sweet potatoes, your boyfriend's blue moon, filet mignon and fries look so damn good. The answer? Take a bite of the steak and sip of the beer and call it a day. Unfortunately, most women cannot "eat like men" and still stay in shape.

My current relationship began with lots of greasy Chinese food, but that has now ceased after I realized lots of fried noodles leads to excess thigh fat. It’s very important you keep up with your eating, exercise and healthy eating habits, regardless of what anyone around you is doing. Now when it's Chinese night, I head to Whole Foods for a killer salad.

Emotions

With life, comes emotions: happly, angry, sad, hurt, anxious, worried, jealous -- you name it, and it'll affect your appetite and intake.

Stay in control of your emotions and you'll stay in control of your weight. Always acknowledge the vast array of feelings you have throughout the week and take ownership of them. You'll be less likely to make up for any "emptiness" you're facing with food and snacks.

Acceptance

It sounds corny, but you know what? It's so true. Be social, accept invitations, try new things and know your limits. Life can be so much sweeter when you’re just a little bit kinder to yourself.