This Girl's Guide to a Night Out

It's no secret to most people that J and I really like to go out to dinner. And sometimes, it is definitely a struggle for me to order the things that I will want that are "on plan". And sometimes, I definitely fail. However, I have been working really hard to make better choices all the time, and that means making better choices when I go out to dinner as well. So here are some of the things that I have learned along the way, as well as the application of them when I had dinner with my dad and his friend Odin last night.

1. Decide what kind of restaurant you are in the mood for. Think about the restaurants that you like and what is on their menu. Is it a bar and you really will only have like 1 choice of something to eat? Would you feel silly if it is ok on your plan to have wine, but not beer? (By that I mean, if red wine is ok - and it is on my plan - you might look kind of silly going to a sports bar sort of place and drinking wine.) Also, if there is 1 grilled chicken dish on the menu, and you KNOW that is going to be what you eat when you eat out (at least, that's what I do!), are there decent side item choices? Last night, I decided it was going to be ok to have ONE glass of wine when I went out to dinner with my dad. Dad and I are normally the sports bar types, but I wanted to make conscientious decisions about my dinner, so I suggested a slightly nicer place. A place that I knew I could have a glass of wine and not feel/look silly, and a place that I knew would have more than one food choice that I could go with.

2. PLAN IT! Get online. Most places have their menus online. They might not have calorie counts, but I figure if you can find the calorie count in a giant cheeseburger and fries, still doesn't make it "fit" on the plan! Read through the menu and make a plan. I try and find 3 things on the menu that I could eat (maybe with slight modifications such as "hold the mayo") so even if I get to the restaurant and change my mind about what I wanted I can make a good choice. On last night's plan, I found 2 different salads that I liked, and I also considered a grilled chicken dish with asparagus and a salad.

3. Stick to your plan! Last night when I got to the restaurant I did not even LOOK at the menu. I knew I wanted that salad. The salad did not have chicken on it, but I requested it added, and they did that. I ordered a glass of the house cab (dry red is ok for me!) and stuck to it. I had a great dinner out with my dad and Odin, we talked and laughed and had a great time, and I didn't even have to THINK about my plan, because I already knew that I was eating from it. And I still got to go out to dinner and be social!

The social aspect is definitely the toughest part about contest prep for me. I mean, when I see someone that I have not seen in a while, or I am making plans to get together with a friend, it is ALWAYS "hey we should have dinner." or "let's go grab a drink." and it makes me sad that my current lifestyle choices make that tough. So I have been working really hard to try and figure it out to make sure that I can still have a social life!

My dad was telling me about his new calorie counting app that he got for his phone. And to be honest, it seems like it might be pretty neat, except for the fact that it steers you toward processed foods. So you use the barcode scanner that you have on your droid/iphone and it reads the label of your food product and then tracks your calories. Now that is pretty sweet, except what if I am eating an apple? Those don't have barcodes?

Ahh well, you can't win them all, so I guess I need to be proud of my dad for working toward making better choices. He told the guy at the tuxedo shop that he is planning on losing 20 lbs before I get married (in 28 days). He's going for 2 lbs per week and he started this about 3 weeks ago. We'll see. Odin told him he should buy a bike. (Just like a cheapy from Target or something) I agree with Odin on this one!

Hopefully that will help some folks enjoy dinners out and NOT freak out about their calorie counts or taking a cheat meal or something. It IS do-able!

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