How to Balance a Social Life with A Healthy Lifestyle

How to Balance a Social Life with A Healthy Lifestyle

 

Today I’m answering another question I get asked constantly: “How do you balance being healthy with a social life and going out?”

At age 29, I really found a happy balance, and I’m excited to share that with you, along with another installment of “What I Ate” and my second vlog!

Shall we?

#InternationalWomensDay

Before we get to that, I wanted to make sure you all know that it’s #InternationalWomensDay! Let’s lift other women up, celebrate women’s successes and missions by acknowledging their impacts. Perhaps you want to post an inspiring message on Instagram or perhaps you want to text another woman you admire for their strength. Whatever it is, do something today to lift your fellow woman up! Men, get in on this too!

I’ll be going on Facebook Live today to honor this empowering day! Tune in at 12:30pm EST with me!

What I Ate Today, March 6, 2017

Breakfast

I started the day off with a Daily Harvest smoothie. One of my top 3 favorite flavors is the Carrot + Chia aka “Glow” smoothie. It SERIOUSLY tastes like a carrot cake smoothie (and carrot cake is my fav!) It’s not too sweet, but just sweet enough. I really recommend it!

And if you didn’t know already, you can use code INSPIRALIZED to get three free smoothies at Daily Harvest. You won’t regret it! They’re great for busy mornings (like today) when you don’t have time to make a proper breakfast but need to fit in nutrients to start your day off right.

What I Ate Today - Inspiralized

Snack

This seems to be a weekly thing now, having mixed raw nuts and raisins or figs as my snack. I take about 1/3 cup of the nut mixture and enjoy it at my desk while I’m working!

What I Ate Today - inspiralized

Lunch

Leftovers! If you missed my Weekly Dinner Plan yesterday, I plan out all my meals for the week now (which is SO helpful and allows me to balance out of my meals for the week) and yesterday was Split Pea Cauliflower Curry, one of Lu’s favorites. I brought leftovers with me to the office to have for lunch! You can grab the recipe here (with better photos, since the photos below are pretty gross – I just forgot to take a photo, so they’re screengrabs from Instagram/Snapchat.)

Snack

I had two figs and about a tablespoon of almond butter, one of my favorite snacks!

What I Ate Today - inspiralized

Dinner

I totally forgot to take a photo of our dinner. We scarfed it down so quickly while watching The Bachelor. If you watched my Instagram stories, you saw that I tried a new veggie burger – Hilary’s. I’m in love! I prefer Hilary’s over Dr. Praeger’s – the veggie burger just holds up better, it’s firmer, and I like the texture and flavor better!

So, we had veggie burgers on organic whole wheat buns, topped with mashed avocado, baby kale, and some ketchup. I served them with a side of roasted sweet potatoes and soy-glazed brussels sprouts.

What I Ate Today - inspiralized

Dessert

I have been craving a peanut butter and jelly sandwich so I had exactly that! I toasted a piece of bread and had it with almond butter and jelly! Forgot to take a picture, of course.

Balancing a Social Life with a Healthy Lifestyle

For this week’s #livinginspiralized topic, I’m talking about how I balance being a girl in her late 20s who likes to go out, have some drinks, eat out, and hang with friends while still feeling my best and not letting this constant balance rule my life. This topic is thanks to the following question by a reader, Lauren, submitted via the blog:

I love happy hour and weekends are always a bust, and even though I’m eating clean along with my wines and vodka/soda its killing me. As a young social girl, how did you manage? I probably have 3-4 drinks 2-3 nights a week, and its totally hindering my progress. Any tips? Thanks!

First off, let me say this: it’s definitely a balance and a struggle. It will always be! Unless you’re someone who is literally 100% committed to being in the best shape of your life 24/7/365, there are going to be times when you’re bloated and discouraged and then also times when you feel like you could lift a MAC truck, you’re so fit.

And my biggest word of advice is this: embrace the journey, the balancing act, and the good and bad days. If you don’t embrace and accept that this is part of your overall healthy lifestyle, you’ll drive yourself absolutely crazy and your efforts will end up back-firing.

But first, a quick background on my journey, in case you haven’t read my original weight loss journey posts (here, here and here). Before I finally committed to switching over to a healthy lifestyle (aka not putting a timeline on my dietary goals and instead pursuing it day by day in a more forever mindset), I was totally guilty of imbalance. I would eat 800-1,000 calories a day from Monday through Thursday and then once Thursday or Friday hit, I was a different person, er, I ate like I was a different person.

I would binge eat everything and it was usually related to an over-consumption of alcohol. I would go out with friends on a Friday night, drink 4+ drinks and then come home and literally eat for an hour straight. I’d order cookies from the local diner that were the size of my face, I’d polish off a bag of bread with globs of nut butter spread on top of them, and I’d eat chunks of cheese. I would wake up the next morning with both a food and alcohol hangover. It was the worst. It was a vicious cycle that killed my body, and I would wake up on Monday with a “fresh start”. However, this “fresh start” was more of the mentality of “I’m going to eat really little this week because then I can have whatever I want on the weekend.”

Of course, this mentality was VERY wrong and it ended up with me never losing the weight I wanted to lose, never having the proper energy for meaningful workouts, feeling tired and a range of emotions all the time, and just feeling guilty three days a week.

Worst of all, I would constantly cancel on friends if I thought the plans would “thwart” my “healthy days” during the week. For example, if a friend invited me to dinner or a concert on a Wednesday night, I’d say yes and then get anxiety the night or morning before and end up cancelling because I didn’t want to risk consuming extra food and alcohol. If this sounds like you, keep reading.

How to Balance a Social Life with A Healthy Lifestyle

When I finally decided to live a healthy lifestyle, it wasn’t like a created a master plan. I found out about the date of my first cookbook photoshoot and I thought to myself, “that’s a great goal to work toward, but it’s only one milestone along the way of me becoming the best version of myself for the rest of my life.” It helped “jumpstart” my healthy lifestyle because I set a goal to fully commit to the lifestyle in the time leading up to the photoshoot.

The first time plans came up with friends, I told myself, “This isn’t a setback, it’s a way to destress and enjoy myself with my friends who make me most happy.” I also told myself, “This isn’t an excuse to overeat or eat foods I wouldn’t normally. It’s a time to spend with friends.” That mentality shift really helped. I ordered as healthfully as I could at the restaurant, I didn’t touch the bread basket, and I said, “No thanks” when the waiter asked if I wanted dessert.

I remember the first time I came back from a night out with my friends, about 3 glasses of wine later, I was a little tipsy and came home. I remember distinctly thinking, “Oh, I want a peanut butter and jelly!” I mentally stopped myself and went for water instead. I drank a full glass of water and lo and behold, the craving went away. I woke up the next morning feeling so empowered. It sounds so silly, but getting over the issue of eating after drinking was a big thing for me.

I just took every night/day out like that. After awhile, it became a habit and it wasn’t such a coherent mental struggle, I just knew that I was living a lifestyle. It took a few months, but eventually and still to this day I got it.

So how do I do it? How do I go out with Lu and my friends, have drinks, eat out at restaurants, and still maintain a healthy weight (and back then, I was losing weight!) There were definitely a few rules I stuck to:

  • When dining out at restaurants
    • I always chose the healthiest thing on the menu. I tried to avoid creamy sauces, cheesey entrees, and heavy meat dishes. For example, if I’m at an Italian restaurant, I’m not ordering the penne alla vodka, I’m ordering the branzino with escarole. Fish and veggies is always a great choice at Italian places.
    • I load up on sides or starter salads. When ordering, I’ll order a smaller entree but load up first on a big green salad or some healthy veggie sides, like roasted brussels sprouts.
    • Drinking lots of water. I drink as many alcoholic drinks as I’d like, but I make sure to balance out with water. Dehydration is the worst thing for your body and can often lead to unhealthy choices later in the night (and into the next day!)
    • Always say no to dessert. When I was losing weight, I always said no to dessert, unless it was some world-renowned dessert that I MUST try. Now, I have a bite or two of a dessert and that’s it. That’s how I maintain. But in the beginning, sugar is really your enemy, so avoid it. Trust me, waking up and not feeling poofy and frustrated is a better feeling than a slice of cake.
    • A lot of times I’d check out the menu beforehand and if there didn’t seem to be any healthy choices, I’d suggest a different spot. I wouldn’t go crazy with this, only if it was one of those situations where no one has really committed to a location. I’m always the first to offer the suggestion, because I know there will be a healthy choice for me there.
    • Choosing wine or a light cocktail as my alcoholic beverage. I don’t order juicy drinks, I don’t ever order alcoholic drinks with soda or tonic in them. I usually go for wine or a vodka soda with a splash of grapefruit and lime.
  • Alcohol isn’t the culprit. Everything you do after drinking alcohol is the culprit. Say you drink 400-500 extra calories that night. As long as you worked out that day and were active, you probably burned off that extra 500 anyway, so there’s no need to worry. It’s all part of the balance and you living your life. When it goes wrong is when you eat things because you’re tipsy because your willpower and judgment is off. Like I said, it’s a mental shift. Just tell yourself you don’t need it, because you don’t. Focus on having fun with your friends instead of eating.
  • Consistency with exercise. If you’re consistent with your exercise, then on the days when you aren’t consistent with your diet (ie a night out and you just HAD to have an extra slice of pizza), the exercise is still there to balance it out. It will even out in the end, as long as you’re exercising. Furthermore….
  • … I’ve talked about this a lot, but the 80/20 rule is EVERYTHING. You can read more about it in all of my healthy living posts, but basically, eat clean and healthy 80% of the time and give yourself the other 20% to relax. #balance

The lesson here is be kind to yourself. Don’t beat yourself up over a bad day, a bad snack, a bad week. Just don’t let that bad week turn into weeks and then, months. And heck, if it does (we all go through rough patches in life), then just know that this is all a lifestyle and just because you fell off the horse doesn’t mean you can’t get right back on it. NEVER, EVER dwell on yesterday. Focus on today and tomorrow. Recover, push on, keep working towards your healthy lifestyle. Have fun and be kind to your body – let it indulge, it’ll love you back for it.

That’s all what I call the ‘healthy hustle.’

What are your tips for balancing your social life with living your healthiest self?

Inspiralized

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Comments

  1. Ali, today my new RED Inspiralizer is being delivered….I was using one of the “cheap ones”, and decided to buy an upgraded inspiralizer….HSH was having a great deal, and voila’, I bought one. I am on a Weight Watchers journey (as is my friend), so for starters I gave my inspiralizer to her, so now we can spiralize together. In the future she will upgrade to your’s…..can’t wait for the mailman! I print out all your recipes Ali, and I have your book, love healthy eating. My all time favorite is the beet/gargonzola/onion salad….YUM!

  2. This is so spot on, Ali! I relate to every word and think this is fantastic advice. It took me years to find balance. For me, it was really about breaking the cycle. I kept trying and trying but something stressful, whether it be in my personal life or at work, would always pop up and derail me every time. I personally needed a hard reset. Completing a Whole30 in January was the game changer for me. I needed those strict guidelines and the structure of a program. It forced me to learn how to manage stress in different ways. It taught me so much. It completely changed my relationship with food and alcohol. It led me to a similar food freedom that you describe in this post. And I must say, I could not have done my Whole30 without my Insprializer! Thanks again for all that you do, Ali! Keep on empowering us. Happy International Women’s Day to you, lady!

  3. This is great, Ali! I love all of your tips!

  4. Thanks Ali! Love your blog and all your tips!

  5. LOVE this post Ali! I’m in my mid twenties and relate so much to every word above. Thank you for sharing your rules and tips – this will be extremely helpful as I continue my own journey towards finding my ‘healthy hustle’!

  6. I love this post – It really speaks to me! I’ve been doing so well with healthy eating and exercising. And find myself being afraid for this weekend as I have a Gala and Baby Shower and a Birthday Party (ahhhhh)…but I am trying to stay focused on my nutrition and getting the workouts in in order to not stress out and be able to enjoy these special occasions in mine and my friends lives!
    Thanks Ali for your continued inspiration – you’re a rockstar!

    • Exactly! You should be EXCITED and grateful for all of those events! Just don’t go too overboard and if you do, don’t harp on it – recover. You’ve got this !

  7. This is a great post and something I’m currently working on – thanks!

  8. Hi Ali,

    As someone who has struggled with finding this balance for a long time… this was inspiring to read (seriously low key teared at my desk). Thank you for being so transparent and honest in your struggles– you make the rest of us feel less alone & crazy. You are amazing and inspiring. Never stop writing, talking or sharing. You’ve mad ea huge difference in my life and I know you’re doing the same with others who follow you.

    Thank you for saving me from endless mean thoughts, bloated mornings, and really just the version of myself I don’t want to be :)

    -Kelly

  9. Heather Duggin :

    Love this! All of it! I needed this inspiration today! :)

  10. Catherine De La Paz :

    Ali, I love the candor – you really speak to a lot of people on this post! So honest and realistic with your thoughts and suggestions.

  11. Thanks for this. I did want to reach out, the other day you had a snap with another blog featuring two girls writing about their eating disorders and I remember wanting to read it however I missed the snap or IG story and now its gone. Could you let me know who that was?

    Thanks and I love your recipes and blog posts. I have given your books to friends and they love it!

  12. I also LOVE this post. One thing I also try to do so I don’t feel like I’m always ordering a grilled chicken salad is to compromise – if I REALLY want the burger, then I get steamed veggies on the side instead of french fries. I also try to avoid the bread/chips basket just because I’m bored. I have definitely started listening to my body more as well – so I ordered something really indulgent the other night because I had been craving a grilled cheese, but then I only ate half of it because I was full and I know that it’s not the last time in my life I’ll ever see a grilled cheese. Love these tips too and I’ll have to try adding grapefruit to vodka soda – it’s definitely getting boring plain. Thanks and Happy International Women’s Day!

  13. Ali, you are the best! Love all of your posts – this one is especially good :) balance is key.

  14. Ali – I’ve been following you since the beginning and have always enjoyed your recipes and posts! I just wanted to let you know that your lifestyle and weight loss blogs have been incredibly inspiring. I found/find myself in the same place you were at a couple of years ago and I am now three weeks into my lifestyle change / weight loss journey. It’s hard not to be obsessed with the scale and when progress is not made in the number it’s easy to get off track. I’m pushing past that this time by tapping into friend support…. And returning to your blog!!!! Just wanted to let you know you’re providing inspiration, motivation, and empowerment…whether you knew it or not. Thanks so much!

  15. Yesssss! Thanks so much for sharing your experiences and learnings. I’m recently 30 but live like I’m in my 20s and struggle with balancing my health goals and having a social life in a big city. I have a tendency to equate food/alcohol with my social life and I’ve been trying to change my mindset to enjoy the event more than the food/alcohol. And if I overindulge one day not to beat myself up but focus on the longer journey and get back to my health routine. You combined with my other favorite blogger, teaspoonliving, are helping me make 30 my healthiest year yet!

  16. I LOVE the Hilary burgers! I buy a bunch when they are on sale and stock up ! I don’t eat it with a bun. Instead, I chop up onions and a clove of garlic (and sometime sprinkle in some coriander and Indian spices )and add this to plain, nonfat yogurt. I top the Hilary burger with this and some low fat feta cheese and slices of avocado. It is soooo delicious!

  17. Ali-I just ordered both of your cookbooks and I can’t wait to get started cooking them!

    My question for you is that when you were in the process of your weight loss journey did you still drink alcohol? I have always been a yo yo dieter and was in the best shape of my life for my wedding (with the help of being restrictive and having a personal trainer) and then gained around 15 lbs over the next 1.5 years.

    I’ve been working more on living a healthy lifestyle and am trying to lose weight but wanted to know if you cut things out at the beginning to make the weight loss progress faster.

    Thanks for all you do!

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