Football, Friends & Restaurants...

I don’t know about you but I love football.

Pro football.

College football is good too but I prefer the pros.

The start of the professional football season is a great time of year. Fall weather is on the way, the holidays are right around the corner and I love it.

There’s a Buffalo Wild Wings here in Birmingham that has a killer scene on NFL Sunday’s. We were looking for a place to watch my beloved Dallas Cowboys and happened to stumble upon it by accident. The place was packed with rowdy football fans. While most were repping their team in jerseys, caps and t-shirts one was in full Oakland Raider pirate regalia! It was awesome and we’ve been back for quite a few Sundays over the years. It’s one part of the NFL season I look forward to every year.

Food is something that our clients continually struggle with in their fitness journey. Going to restaurants, whether it’s lunch during the workweek, for a family night out or NFL Sunday can be a big challenge.

It takes some work and awareness but it can, and will, be done!

We’re going to live life to its fullest, enjoy great times with friends and family and we’re still going to reach our goals. It’s the secret to how we’re going to stay at our goal weight, reach new goals of fitness and muscle, if we want, while not yo-yoing until we just give up.

Let me tell you to start off: you cannot go to BWW every Thursday, Sunday and Monday, watch pro football and pound beers, eat baskets of wings and fries and chips and queso, then do shots with everyone else and think you’re going to reach your goals and stay there. That’s not going to happen. But we can still go and have a good time, eat some good stuff, maybe splurge a little bit and on occasion go a little crazy. We just have to make sure crazy doesn’t become more than on occasion, we have to know where we stand in relation to our goals and have the discipline to know when it’s okay and when to stay strict.

You didn’t think this article was going to suspend the rules of calorie intake and macronutrient profile so you could eat and drink as much as you wanted did you? Try it and see how it works out for you. I have and it definitely didn’t work out for me.

So what’s the secret?

There’s not a secret at all. You just have to know where you stand, be aware of what you’re consuming and understand the impact it will have on you. Sometimes we’ll rearrange our eating for the entire day in order to have a special treat. Other times, we’ll stay disciplined. It just depends.

Let’s sit down and watch some football and eat with our friends. Here’s the calorie cost of a typical Sunday. (Everything is from the BWW nutrition guide except the beer. I got that from my personal MyFitnessPal.)

Mozzarella Sticks w/ Marinara (1/2 order)
325 Calories, 16g Fat, 29g Carb, 16g Protein

Medium Traditional Wings (10 Wings)
1010 Calories, 57g Fat, 0g Carb, 125g Protein

Add Medium Sauce
70 Calories, 6g Fat, 4g Carb, 1g Protein

Side French Fries
330 Calories, 15g Fat, 44g Carb, 4g Protein

2 Pints Sweetwater IPA
504 Calories, 0g Fat, 40g Carbs, 0g Protein

Totals: 2,239 Calories, 94g Fat, 117g Carb, 146g Protein

My maintenance calories for the entire day are around 2,200 Calories with 159g protein, 255g carb and 56g dietary fat.

I’m not saying going to BWW and eating this meal and having a great time with friends is bad. I’m just saying look at the numbers above and think about the effect it will have on you and your goals. Remember, that’s one meal at the restaurant compared to my entire day’s calories.

Here’s how I do it.

If I’ve been really good lately and it’s been a while, I might have a few wings and maybe a beer or two. When I say a few wings I mean an order of five. That’s plenty for me. I get to enjoy the wings and it’s not so many that it makes me feel queasy and I’m not guilty about it afterwards. (I’ve even ordered the kids meal – it has four wings and comes with fries.) Many times, Eva and I will split that order and a small order of fries. If I want cheese sticks we’ll buy an order for the table and I’ll eat one.

If I have a beer it’ll usually be one or maybe two. I’ve been an IPA freak for years and I’d rather have one good beer than a whole bunch of light beers. If you’d rather fill that same amount of calories with several light beers, then that’s fine too. But it all has to add up at the end of the day. Again, you can’t drink all night and think you’re going to reach your goals.

In times when I need to stay strict with my calories and macros, I still go and have a great time. But I stay strict.

Here’s what I do.

I make sure I’m not hungry when I go. I have a plan as to what I’m going to eat when I’m there – I’ve already logged it – and I still have a great time while sticking to the plan.

I order naked tenders. That’s boneless, skinless chicken breast. They have great dry spices. Just be aware there might be fat and calories in them. I love the lemon pepper. Get the sauce they’re normally spun in on the side and dip your fork into it first. I’ll often get a salad without cheese and dressing. I’ll use some of the dry spices then squeeze lemon on it or order a bit of their salsa to use as my salad dressing. I like it and it tastes great. There are certain salad dressings I really love but I know I have to weigh the calorie and macronutrient impact against my goals. A place like this is not where I’ll spend those calories on a dressing out of a bottle. (Somewhere like Bottega, where the dressing is freshly made, is a different story. Even then, I’ll get it on the side.)

You’re going to find it still tastes great, you won’t feel bad about it afterwards and you’re going to have a good time.

Here’s the great news, there are times when Eva and I will split an entire order of cheese sticks, each have some wings, some fries and even a few beers too. But those times are special. (Something like hitting a major goal, a birthday, vacation or finishing a one-year workout program.) Remember, you can’t eat like this at every meal and think you’ll reach and maintain your goals. We’re both in pretty good condition, carry a low amount of body fat and we’re disciplined in our eating. So, we can get away with it but they’re a big splurge and we make ourselves earn it.

We stay aware of where we are and where we want to be but we also have a great time no matter what.

Keep your eye on your goals. For those that are five pounds into a fifty pound weight loss journey, you don’t need to splurge. Stay tight and disciplined for a while. If you can have that one cheese stick without falling off the wagon then it’s okay. If not, it’s best just to stay away from it. You’ll get there, I promise.

Take a look around you when you’re at the restaurant. If you want to look like that, then you can eat like that. If not, you’re going to have to do something different. We have some wonderful friends who eat and drink whatever they like – and their body composition reflects it. They’re awesome people. We love them but we don’t want to look like them.

And that guides us in our eating.

Once again, you can’t eat whatever you want and think you’ll reach your goals and stay there for the rest of your life. It’s going to take some work and awareness of what you’re putting in your body. But you can apply these same principles to any eating situation.

You need to eat correctly most of the time but you need to be aware of what you’re eating all the time.

Everyone has goals. For some, it’s just to stay at their current weight and body fat percentage. And that goal determines their eating.

I’ve said this many times before, “You can’t always eat whatever you like but you can always like whatever you eat.”

Eva and I have great meals. We eat well at restaurants and on vacation and don’t ever feel like we’re missing out on anything. You deserve to do it, too. And we’re here to help you do just that.

We’ll talk again soon,