Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Single and On Plan: Boozing and Losing

A WeightWatchers.com editor tries to find a balance between enjoying happy hours in the city and dropping a few notches on the scale.

I started writing this column last June as I tried to lose "those last five pounds"—without giving up early-bird drink specials and pub crawls. I've been attending At Work meetings in our office, lost over 10 pounds* and reached my goal this fall, but I've Pogo-ed up and down since January with getting back to goal; and I think my single-city social life is to blame.

I don't want to say no to happy hours, marathon Saturday-night birthday parties in New York or playing drinking games with my big Irish family. (Our holiday parties showcase 10-on-10 flip-cup races and beer pong tables. Even my 84-year-old grandma makes guest appearances for a round or two.)

I know I could probably maintain my goal weight steadily if I cut out the booze, but I'd gain a few pounds back in one celebratory weekend so I might as well make this plan work for me to keep it off for good. My monthly column shares my thoughts and tips while asking you for suggestions as well.I've been working in the health industry for over two years

My Low POINTS® Value Standbys
These come in at a POINTS value of 3 or less, but use your POINTS Tracker for accuracy with different brands.
Bottled regular beer, 12 oz.
Bottled light beer, 12 oz.
Glass of wine, 6 oz.
Flute of Champagne, 6 oz.
Club soda and shot of flavored vodka (with a squeeze of lime or splash of juice)
Diet Coke with vanilla vodka or flavored rum

and have come to realize it's not always easy to make healthy decisions while out having fun. But

I'm going to try my best to get back to my goal weight and enjoy myself while doing it.
In my this installment, I'm tackling The Bar. Here are some tips I try to exercise on a night out with friends:

Pack a good snack for "after."When I anticipate coming home late from the bar, I try to plan ahead. Before heading out, I'll portion out a snack or mini-meal that will satisfy my post-drink munchies: low-fat cheese and crackers, pretzels, peanut butter and jelly on light bread.

Whatever it is, I just make sure it's portion controlled and the first food I see when I arrive home. Otherwise, I'll find an empty bag of pretzels on my counter in the morning and wonder what the heck happened last night.

Eat some protein.When I'm going out after work and know I won't get home until late, I'll try to eat a filling vegetable or fruit (like carrots, an apple or banana) and protein (like nuts or a granola bar) to stay satisfied. Sometimes I'll have my snack around lunchtime and save my packed lunch for 3 or 4 p.m. so I'm less hungry (and goofy) with the first few drinks.

Buy the first round.This strategy may not save me money, but I can take my time with my drink and not feel pressured to chug once I see my friends have emptied their glasses. I tell them I'm still working on mine while they buy their second round. When my guy friends let me pick up the first round, this keeps me from trying to keep up with them.

Keep them under three.POINTS values that is. For occasions that aren't incredibly "special" to me, I won't order a bathtub-sized margarita that'll drain half of my daily POINTS Target. Check out the sidebar for my go-to drinks with low POINTS values.

Dance! Or pretend to. My dance floor formula usually requires three elements: two drinks, a good DJ and a friend willing to get up there with me. But once I'm there, I'm staying put—burning calories away from bar. Granted, I probably drink the first third of my beverage quickly, so as to not spill any precious, expensive alcohol on the floor or me. But I love to dance, and I don't drink as much while I'm bustin' a move, so this tip works well for me.

Tips from Single Girls Around the World
Melanie, Editor for Weight Watchers' Australia/New Zealand Web site:"I ask for mixed drinks in a tall glass, they last longer."

Gina, Editor for Weight Watchers' United Kingdom Web site:"When I'm heading straight to the bar from work, I always make sure to have a big lunch—say, a homemade wrap or leftovers from last night's dinner. Then, if I get the chance, light crackers, a Weight Watchers

Just2POINTS&153 bar or something small just before I shut down my computer for the day or on the train on the way to the bar. That way I don't succumb to the greasy bar menu."
"Knowing I have something waiting for me in the fridge when I get home is imperative—some yummy leftovers to heat up—anything to distract me from the gauntlet of late-night burger bars and kebab shops on the way home after a long night."

Sandra, Editor for Weight Watchers' Germany Web site:"I have a glass of water between the drinks. It prevents a horrible hangover (due to dehydration by alcohol) and I won't drink as many wines as I would without the water."

"I always have an Alka-Seltzer before I go to bed; it helps me feel better the next day."

This article was originally posted on WeightWatchers.com

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