When Life Gets in the Way

Contrary to popular belief, my life doesn’t revolve around weight loss.

While my newfound commitment to healthy eating and exercise has radically transformed the way I live my life, there are times when work, family, friends, vacations, sleep, special occasions, and a long list of other responsibilities and daily demands can throw even the best-intentioned person slightly off course.

Yes, that includes someone who has already lost a significant amount of weight, and purports to have it all figured out (ahem, yours truly).

In the past three weeks alone, I have traipsed up and down Las Vegas Boulevard on a week-long vacation trip in celebration of my boyfriend’s 25th birthday, spent Easter Sunday with his (very Italian) food-pushing family, sipped martinis with my sister on her 22nd birthday, and accompanied my mom to a delectable buffet brunch on Mother’s Day.

Up next: a weekend getaway to Atlantic City in celebration of my sister’s college graduation. Yikes.

There are times when I’m on my best behavior, and I truly embody the monikers of “health nut” or “gym rat” that friends have so kindly bestowed upon me. The scale is moving because I’m monitoring every morsel that passes my lips, and I’m on a first-name basis with everyone at the gym. I have a specific objective in mind (e.g. lose the last 10 pounds by the end of the year), and everything I do seems to be motivated by that goal.

But then there are other times when once-in-a-lifetime special occasions like a loved one’s graduation or wedding, or a long-anticipated (and much-deserved) vacation, temporarily seem more important than weighing X number of pounds or slipping into a certain dress size.

Meanwhile, there’s no avoiding the daily responsibilities that can interfere with anyone’s best efforts to eat well and hit the gym regularly, from long hours at the office to mountains of dirty laundry. Sometimes the need to meet a work deadline or squeeze in a few extra minutes with your kids before bed can prevent you from preparing a nutritious dinner or making it to the gym.

If there’s one lesson I’ve learned in the past three years, it’s that there is nothing that’s more important than my health. However, when you’re committed to living as healthfully as possible 99.9 percent of the time (okay, okay, more like 75 percent) I see no reason why you shouldn’t enjoy a slice of cake on your significant other’s birthday.

My little sister is only going to graduate from college once, and while there are certainly more important aspects of this special milestone than a post-ceremony lunch (and cocktails!) together as a family, we live in a society where food is an integral element of just about every occasion — whether it’s a wedding or a funeral.

While it’s unfortunate that special occasions and the many demands of daily life have a way of piling up all at once, and it seems I’m currently “off” my Weight Watchers program as much as I’m “on,” I still think giving into the occasional indulgence or skipping a workout is better than being the person who nibbles on salad while everyone else enjoys a holiday feast, or who forgoes the entree you really want at an incredible restaurant on vacation for fear that you might tote an extra pound or two back home.

Sometimes it’s okay to let life push you ever-so-slightly off the wagon…just as long as you eventually hop back on.

How do you deal with special occasions or daily responsibilities getting in the way of your weight loss efforts?


  1. I’ve only just started to take my weight loss goal seriously, I’m going to the gym 5 times a week and eating healthily. However I never realised how spending time with friends and family could be so hard in terms of my goals. I will eat healthy for 6 days, then go to a restaurant with a friend and feel myself slipping when I decide to order an enticing slice of chocolate fudge cake that seems to be calling out to me. I’m trying so hard to find a balance between enjoying these social events and not letting waste 6 days hard work on a a few hours of calorie rich deliciousness. Hopefully I will find that balance soon.

  2. Hi Stacey,

    Thanks so much for writing! I know exactly what you mean. Dining out continues to be one of my greatest challenges. It’s not easy ordering the grilled chicken entree when your friends are eating burgers and fries. But during the week, I have absolutely no problem eating healthy and working out almost every day.

    However, the one thing I have not stopped doing since I started this weight loss journey is going out to restaurants. Eating outside of your home is a part of life, and the world doesn’t stop just because you or I are trying to lose weight, you know? I’m living proof that you CAN go out to eat and still lose weight — I still dine out at least 2-3 times a week, almost always on Friday and Saturday nights. There’s absolutely no reason to give up your social life just because you’re trying to lose weight!

    It’s all about balance, as you said. And you will find it! Just try to keep things in perspective. While you don’t want to blow all your hard work over one slice of chocolate cake, if you’ve stayed on track all week and are really, truly craving a treat, then by all means, have it! One dessert isn’t going to erase a week’s worth of weight loss, believe me. Try sharing that dessert with a friend, savoring just a few bites, or swap something that’s usually rich (like ice cream) for something similarly delicious (like sorbet or frozen yogurt). You can always order anything you want off the menu, but feel free to make few adjustments (a turkey burger instead of beef, hold the mayo and bacon on a turkey club, ask for light oil on your entree, etc.) to make it a little healthier.

    There’s tons of ways to still go out and have fun, but without feeling guilty for blowing your weight loss efforts. I wrote a blog all about dining out, if you haven’t seen it already: http://thefinalforty.wordpress.com/2010/02/28/surviving-restaurants/

    Be sure to subscribe to my blog, if you like, or you can always follow me on Twitter @jenniferlnelson. I’d love to hear from you, and please do keep me posted how you’re doing!


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