Being from Boston, naturally, I'm a sports fan. My Dad is a huge Celtics and Patriots fan. I grew up watching the great Boston sports teams and stuck with them through their "rough" patches (86 years of Red Sox pain. Last night's Patriots loss to the Colts...the list goes on). I worked at a bar next to Fenway Park for 6 years. My boyfriend, like many out there, rarely turns off ESPN and automatically looks for a sports game to put on whenever he turns the TV on. We have a fantasy football team so we must watch football all day on Sundays, and Monday nights, and sometimes Thursdays. (And by we, I mean HE has a fantasy team. I just pretend to have say so I can be cool and in the know).
To me, sports are more than just watching. I often associate sports with a eating or drinking or going out with friends to catch a game. None of which, are remotely helpful to losing weight. When I think of watching a baseball game, I think of drinking a nice cold beer on a summer day. I'm sure all you meat eaters out there are also thinking about hot dogs, and if you're a meat eater from Boston, you're probably dreaming about Fenway Franks. Football is probably the worst for me. Football reminds me of fatty appetizer type foods (think nachos, poppers, wings) and again, beer.
If I'm home watching a game, I am fine. I don't need a beer and I certainly won't be making those appetizers. No. Instead, I run into the most problems when I watch games in a social setting with friends, family or my boyfriend. So, how do you go out with others, watch sports, and resist all of the beer and fatty foods being put right in front of your face? How do you lose weight without letting diet control your whole life?
Here are some things to keep in mind:
Eat before you go. This one is for those who are lucky enough to have tickets to a sporting event. Eat before you go. There just are not healthy options from the concession stands and you know it! So, fill up before the big game and save money and calories. You don't need a fatty snack to be social and enjoy the game. No one is shoving it in your face. Just don't buy any and concentrate on your team.
Bring your own options. This one is for the house party. If you're headed to a friend's house to watch the big game, or hosting friends at your home, make sure you have a healthy option. You know there is likely to be a table full of tempting little treats. So, make sure that you add at least one option that won't pop the button on your pants. That way, you at least have a shot of sticking to your plan. You cannot use the excuse that you had no choice but to cheat because there weren't any healthy snacks. If you cheat, it's because you made the choice. (See below for some healthy snacking recipes).
Beware the beer. If you are going to enjoy some adult beverages while watching sports, try to stick to light beer. It's not always reasonable to assume you are going to skip the beer all together. I've tried this before. Sometimes it works, other times, I am out at a bar or at a game or even someone's house and just want a beer. So, keep with the light beers and stick with bottles whenever possible. Think of the last time you were at a stadium or arena for a sports event and think of how full your draft beers were. Most places serve plastic bottles now. If you get bottles, you'll not only save from all that spilling, but won't have to deal with over-pours and extra calories in every cup. (And, there's talk that draft beer gives you nasty hangovers...)
Don't drunk eat. Let's say you go out to watch a game and end of enjoying more light beers than you had originally planned. Being a 25 year old fun loving girl who goes out a lot, this CAN (and will--Ooops!) happen. If you are like me, you might have a tendency to drunk eat. Don't. It's hard, but try to remember, it just isn't worth it. #1. Remember that whatever food you're going to shove in your drunk face, is still there in the morning. You won't be missing out on anything except extra calories if you pass. #2. You're drunk. If you're going to cheat, you should at least be sober so you can savor it! Just go home, go to bed and when you wake up, you'll be glad you didn't give in to your drunk voice telling you to eat a grilled cheese at 3 in the morning.
Don't sabotage yourself. Hangovers stink. There's not a single good thing about them. No one goes to bed thinking, "Gee, I hope I wake up tomorrow and my head is pounding, the room is spinning and I feel so nauseous, I could really throw up at any second). Though we can't totally control whether or not we are hungover, I've found that two asprin and a bottle of water to the face right before bed helps. And, if I'm still hurting in the morning, I swear by a bottle of Gatorade. If you cheated a bit the night before, you'll want to get in a good workout the next day so don't sabotage yourself by drinking so much you're sick.
Work hard. Play hard. Here is where the balance comes in. It's ok to go out with friends and have fun and even splurge on some of those fatty appetizers and beers sometimes (just not all of the time). So, on days that I know I might run into some trouble, I work extra hard at the gym. And the next morning, I'm not disappointed or puzzled if the number on the scale hasn't exactly plummeted. Remain realistic.
The key is making sure to not fall of the wagon completely. Allow yourself a couple of bites of nachos, but don't go pounding the platter. And, if you cheat one day or one meal, don't just throw away the rest of your eating for that weekend or day. Enjoy your splurge. Don't obsess. Work extra hard at the gym and keep on track.
Now, here are some recipes and ideas for healthier options you can bring to a sports party at a friends house or serve up to your guests:
Veggies with hummus or another healthy dip. This is the easiest option by far. You don't need any cooking skills to chop up some fresh veggies and buy a container of hummus. You also don't need much time to prepare this one either. Sometimes, all we want to do while watching TV is snack, even when we aren't really hungry. Well, snack away on crunchy, fresh veggies. You can pop carrots, celery, cucumber, cherry tomatoes, really any veggie you want into your mouth without feeling guilty. Just be careful with the dips. Hummus is an excellent dipping option. Trader Joes also has a delicious spicy black bean dip that is very low in calories and has no fat. If you want to make your own healthy dip, you can buy the dip packet and substitute fat-free sour cream to save calories and fat. Don't go eating creamy, fatty dips, like french onion dip, spinach artichoke dip etc. You'll ruin the nutritional value of your veggies. Here's a swap for a layered Mexican dip from Weight Watchers that's just as tasty as the original. Click here for it.
Portabello skins. Yes potato skins are yummy. No they aren't going to make you any skinnier. At all. Try swapping out the potato for a portabello mushroom cap. You can still stuff it with yummy goodness. I like stuffing mine with chopped broccoli and fat-free or low-fat cheddar. If I'm feeling Italian, I'll go with chopped tomatoes, fat free mozzarella and drizzle with a bit of evoo. Bake them and enjoy the gooey cheesiness without extra calories and fat. Oh and if you want bacon, try substituting turkey bacon--I'm told it's just as good on these skins.
Shrimp Cocktail. It's simple. Shrimp and cocktail sauce. Not too hard. You don't even have to cook anything if you buy cooked shrimp. Serve on a bed of lettuce and enjoy! (Tip: Buy a bag of frozen cooked shrimp from your local supermarket. They are very tasty and cheaper than buying from the seafood counter. Defrost and your friends won't know the difference).
Popper Swap. Check out this recipe for jalapeno poppers from Hungry Girl (I love her!). These are not only delicious, but nutritious. HG even proves it by showing the damage regular poppers can do to your diet. Click here to get see the comparison and get the recipe.
Chicken Wings. And for you meat eaters, here's a Weight Watchers recipe for buffalo wings that won't ruin your diet. I know a friend who has made these and she highly recommends them. Click here for the recipe.
Hopefully, I can follow my own advice tonight. I am headed to a Bruin's game. I'll let you guys know how it goes!