a fun night of drinking

You had a fun night with your friends (drinking while chatting on Zoom) and it alleviated whatever it could of the times we are going through. This is not something you do all the time, as you are clear about your long-term goals and values. You went to bed with a joyful heart and can't wait to do this again in a few weeks.

You wake up. And you start thinking about the weighing scale. Should you? Should you not? After a bit of back and forth, you just cannot take it. Everything you do is distracted by the thought of going and checking your weight. The more you try to push it away, the firmer it comes back.

rewind a little bit

You have a fitness/nutrition/weight loss goal. You know me - my recommendation is to always have it as a long-term direction, rather than a strict short-term one. Not that you will ALWAYS be on the path of weight loss. But you will always be on the path of improving (or working on) yourself, and fitness and health are a core part of that. When we have a short-term goal, a rigid ruleset, a diet - well, only two options exist. Either you stick to it or you fall apart and feel guilty. There are unfortunately only those two options.

More long-term thinking helps us out here. Guiding this based on our values, rather than rules will help us out here. You want to improve your health and fitness. Direction over speed and all that.

So, back to last night. Let's say you catch up with your friends every week/month/whatever and it is a time to let go of everything else and just de-stress. As part of your long-term thinking, this night plays a vital part - of connecting with your friends, of having fun, of limiting stress.

diet coke or alcohol?

The spanner in the works is the "breaking of the diet" i.e. you are drinking. We want everything else from that evening but not this.

Should we have diet soda instead of alcohol? Should we limit ourselves to one drink? Or should we just let go and have fun?

The answer - well, it depends.

People cheering at a party
Photo by Yutacar / Unsplash

Zoom out again. See the larger picture. Hanging out with your friends, having a good time, de-stressing, having robust relationships - all of these are valuable and vital. So, there's no problem with that. What about drinking? Is it necessary/essential? Of course not. You can still have a good time without drinking. That's not to say you shouldn't be drinking. This is not about this or that. This is, maybe, about de-linking an evening of fun and drinking.

Note: Please replace drinking with eating dessert or whatever else goes against your long-term plan. Please replace weight loss with whatever your goal is.

two sub-par ways

There are at least two sub-par ways of dealing with this scenario.

One, you are a grumpy goose coz you are on a diet and hence are not drinking. You are not as much fun sober as you are drunk, and you decide to show it. You have an air of superiority coz you are on a journey towards taking care of yourself and so you remind everyone subtly or not that you are not drinking this night.

Two, you drink and you have a great time. And the next morning is filled with shame and guilt and weighing yourself 10 times. Before pooping. After pooping. After walking around a little bit. Then, walking around a little bit more. All the while berating yourself.

instead, how about ....

In the first scenario, instead of doing that, if you've decided to not drink, great. You don't need to announce it. You can just chill and have a good time. Being tightly wound, repeating the pattern to yourself that not drinking = not fun is the problem. And sure, of course, many of us loosen up after drinking and maybe we are more fun after drinking. Or rather, being around drunk people is more fun when you are drunk. As the designated driver for many years, I know this. You can just sip on your diet soda or water or whatever you are drinking and just hang out and have a great time.

Butterfly at Chapada dos Veadeiros
Photo by J. Balla Photography / Unsplash

In the second scenario, just stop! As part of the decision-making process that goes into the previous evening which ends with "Yep, I am going to drink and have a good time with my friends" also means a few guidelines along with it. Yes, you will feel a bit bloated the next morning. Yes, your weight might be up. Or down. But it is irrelevant. You will not obsess over it or use it as a yardstick for anything.

In both scenarios, going into the mindset of "I am going to have a good time" and not feeling guilty or succumbing to short-term "fix it" measures is the key. I think.

Play the long game. Distance yourself. Let go of patterns. See what this scenario entails. Then, just enjoy the ride. See how it feels.