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Sticking to Your Diet… When You Belly Up to the Bar!

By Lisa Spodak (ResultsNotTypical@worldnow.com)
Provided by WorldNow

Week 16 Weigh In:

Change this week:  –2.5 lbs.
Change overall:  –41.5 lbs.

I faced a very specific challenge this week — on Monday night, I held a fundraiser at Fred’s, a local bar and restaurant, as part of my participation in The Avon Walk for Breast Cancer.  Since I clearly have a knack for putting myself in situations that will tempt me, I planned an evening starting with dinner and moving into several hours with me pouring drinks as a guest bartender.

When I started my weight loss journey back in February, one of the first things I did was cut out drinking.  There were so many reasons that this was a good idea for me.  Just a few:

  • Alcoholic drinks are packed with empty calories
  • When I’ve been drinking I tend to eat more — and eat “bad” foods
  • When I’m out drinking, I’m not sleeping as much

But, while I’m definitely focused on making lifestyle changes rather than “going on a diet,” I don’t want to give up my social life — I still go out with friends, I still go to bars, and I still host fundraisers.

I really had nothing to worry about Monday — I was rushing around behind the bar so much I didn’t even notice that it had gotten to be 11:00 without me having a single soda, much less anything else!  Whenever someone mentioned me having a shot or pouring myself something, I just smiled and kept doing what I was doing.

Even though it’s not always that easy, I’m actually very lucky.  My friends all know that I’m trying to lose weight and am skipping the drinking as a part of that.  They’re all very supportive and don’t put pressure on me.  But I know a lot of people are not so lucky and may feel the need to “fake it” and look like they’re drinking… even when they’re not.

So I talked to some friendly servers at Vlada here in New York City about faking it and they had some great ideas.  As bartender Damon Gravina explained, “a lot of times, it’s the act of drinking, rather than what you’re actually drinking, that’s important.”

He offered these easy ways to make it through a “dry” night without anyone being the wiser.

  • Glass size matters.  Ordering water in a pint glass will look like water in a pint glass–ordering water in a martini glass will look like a martini.
  • Take control of the ordering.  You can order a round of shots for everyone–with a shot of an energy drink or soda for yourself.  Then let the bartender know that you’d like any subsequent shots to be the same.
  • Ask for appropriate garnishes.  Olives in your martini glass complete the look of your water martini; a lime with water in a rocks glass makes it look like you’re drinking gin or vodka.
  • Drink slowly.  Drink your ‘virgin’ cocktails at the same speed you’d drink the alcoholic versions.  You may even want to work on your sip-and-wince!
  • Know yourself–your friends do.  Think about what you usually drink and order something similar in look.  In addition to the water martini, here are some examples:
    • Normally drink a straight clear alcohol?  Water will do the trick.  But remember, no bubbles!
    • Toasting your friends at brunch?  A champagne glass with half Ginger Ale and half Sprite will fool everyone.
    • Normally a 7&7 fan?  Try club soda with a dash of bitters.  This also works for whiskey or Makers Mark and soda.
    • Craving a vodka cranberry?  Just go with cranberry and soda.
  • Drink a beer.  Most bars carry non-alcoholic beer.  Just ask for it in a glass instead of the bottle.
  • Don’t think you’re the only one.  There are plenty of people out there who don’t drink.  Don’t feel self–conscious about asking the bartender for some help–chances are, they won’t be surprised by any request you make and have definitely heard it all before.

Personally, I tend to be very all–or–nothing.  So when I decided to change my drinking habits, I eliminated drinking altogether (except for very specific special occasions).  For many people, cutting back is just as effective.

Cocktail waiter Todd Bergman gave me these tips for simply cutting back on drinking:

  • Alternate your alcoholic beverages with non-alcoholic ones.
  • Don’t be embarrassed to ask your bartender for a weak drink.
  • Slow down… nurse your drinks.
  • When your drinks starts to get low, simply ask your bartender for more ice

One last note.  While a water martini may not cost you anything, if you want it shaken and prepared to look convincingly like the real thing, it takes the same effort as the real thing and your bartender should be tipped accordingly.  Nothing will make your evening go more smoothly than getting the bartender on your side–no matter what you’re drinking!


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