Tonight’s concert plan of action

We realised only yesterday that we had tickets for a concert in the 3Arena tonight.

Our normal plan, when going out in the city on a week-night, would be to meet somewhere in the city and have an early-bird dinner before the event. We’d also have a couple of drinks over dinner, as the price of drinks in concert venues is often inflated.

However doing this would not exactly be syn-friendly. When you add the dinner and drinks together we’d probably be way over our syn allocation for the day – and that’s before we’ve even made it the concert!

So what’s our plan of action?

Well this morning I brought both a packed lunch and dinner with me. And so, instead of going out to eat, I’m going to stay late in the office and eat dinner there.

I’ll be having a syn-free meal – actually left-overs from yesterday’s dinner – which I already know will be tasty, delicious, and healthy. And because I’ll still be in the office, I won’t be drinking alcohol with my meal – so that’ll save on some more syns.

The idea then, is to meet up with the misses half an hour before the gig for a quick drink in a local bar, and then head on to the concert.

The misses has also planned ahead for potential post-concert munchies. She’s prepared a chicken curry that’ll be waiting at home. So should we be hungry, we’ll be able to avoid the temptation to get a take-away, as there’s a tasty and healthy alternative ready to eat.

Hopefully all this will help ensure we end up having a great night – but also a healthy night!

Crone Wood, Enniskerry, Wicklow, Ireland

Activity and reward

Saturday was a glorious day in Dublin. The sun was shining, the skies were blue, and with the delicate encouragement of my good lady wife, I felt compelled to get outside and embrace nature.

In other words, it was a nice day and my wife persuaded me to go for a walk in the hills.

In fact, we jumped in the car with the dog and drove south to County Wicklow, and to a place call Crone Woods that is next to Powerscourt Waterfall (the tallest waterfall in Ireland don’t you know?) in Enniskerry.

The trail takes you through the woods and up the Maulin Mountain. It’s about 8km long, and pretty strenuous. It certainly got my heart pumping! But as it was such a lovely day – and as there were so many places to stop and admire the view – it didn’t seem so bad. I took my camera along, so I had plenty of excuses to stop and catch my breath as a composed shots.

Even so, by the end of the walk, we both felt like we’d had a good workout. And with this feeling of virtuousness came the temptation of rewarding ourselves for all the effort. After all, we’d probably burned about 1,000 calories each, so why couldn’t we have a small treat?

So that evening, when we at a friends’ house for dinner, I indulged probably a little more than I should have – both with food and alcohol. Yes, and I know I only just recently talked about the perils of the demon drink, but I’ve never been one to follow my own advice!

I did successfully side-step the plate of garlic bread that was being passed around, but my resolve broke when the cheese board appeared. I’ve always loved a bit of smelly blue cheese, and I could hear it calling to me. So I had some, and I enjoyed it. And I told myself that I had earned it, because I had done all that strenuous walking earlier in the day.

But here’s the thing… the activity and the reward weren’t necessarily equal. In fact the reward I gave myself definitely outweighed the activity in terms of calories eaten and burnt.

I guess that’s why Slimming World doesn’t give extra syns in reward for body magic – because the temptation would always be to over-estimate the benefit of the activity and grant yourself too many syns!


The demon drink

When I fall off the wagon, there’s often an alcoholic drink involved!

Most of the time I avoid drinking any alcohol at all, because it’s high calorie, and those calories provide little or no nutrition. Alcohol doesn’t fill me up, so in effect they’re just empty calories. And I’d rather use my calories (or syns) for food!

Having said that, on occasion I’ve been known to indulge in a small tipple, and when I do it can either go one of two ways. I either stay “good” and stay within my syns for the day, but feel like I’ve missed out on having a really good night. Or I go “bad” and go way beyond my syns (often not even counting them), and have a good night, but end up feeling regretful the next day. So either way, I end up feeling bad.

There’s also the problem that drink often lowers my resolve to make healthy eating decisions. So in addition to all those empty calories, I will often eat all the wrong types of food – and not just when drunk on a night out – but also the next day when I’m hung over.

So it’s best for me not to drink at all. At least that’s what I tell myself – often just before I reach for the wine bottle!


Eating in Slimming World Class

There’s a unwritten etiquette to eating in a Slimming World class.

If you’re having a Taster Night, then it’s expected for you to bring and eat something in class. But what about the rest of the time?

Depending on the time of day, and how much you have starved yourself prior to your weigh-in, may determine whether you feel compelled to eat in class. You may be fresh along from work, having skipped lunch, and starving hungry. You may have been out for a couple of hours of last-minute body magic, to try and burn off a couple of pounds. Or you might not have eaten at all for the last 3 days! And in those situations you may not have the energy to sit through a full hour of image therapy without some sustenance inside you. After all, all that clapping and encouraging other people is hard work!

But does that mean you can bring along your dinner, and munch your way through the entire class?

I go to a 5.30pm group, and pretty-much everyone is attending before having dinner. So it’s common to see people having a discrete snack – after weigh-in of course! Freshly purchased hi-fi bars seem to be a favourite, as well as fruit. Anything healthy, speedy or free seems to be fair game, although I’m not sure what reaction anyone would get if they started tucking into a big Tupperware dish of pasta.

I think it’s also fair to say that it may be frowned upon to try an order a Domino’s pizza or fish supper to be delivered to class! Whatever you indulge in a post-class blowout is between you and your maker, but it’s probably best not to be seen to be off-plan during the class itself – that is, unless you order enough pizza for everyone!

But that’s just my class. What’s your experience? Do people eat during your class?

The problems of travelling

Whether travelling for work or pleasure, it’s difficult to food optimise when you have little control over your diet.

I’m away this week on a business trip to the USA. The flying each way takes up two whole days, and the rest of the time I’m staying in a hotel and either eating out at restaurants or in the office. And I know already that my diet is going to be terrible.

Up up and away

Plane travel is tough. You’re tired, you’re uncomfortable, you’re bored, you’re often dehydrated, and the options for food and drink are often limited. So how is anyone meant to food optimise in these conditions?

The meal options at an airport are restricted, and other conditions such as feeling tired or being limited for time mean that it’s hard to find healthy options. Most of the food outlet menus offer the same options – most of which is deep fried. And the options on-board the plane are even worse.

The only real way to stay on-plan is to bring your own food with you, which is a pain. Packing a bunch of healthy snacks in your hand luggage will stave off the temptation to buy meals in the airport or on the plane. Although doing so may require a super-human degree of pre-planning. Particularly as on the return leg of your travels you may not have access to the same sources of healthy food as you do at home.

Staying away

I’ve talked before about some possible coping strategies for eating out, and some of those might come in handy when eating at your hotel or restaurant.

The biggest problem, however, that I’ve found is in the catered lunches provided in offices. Invariably they will involve sandwiches and wraps, crisps, pastries, and maybe some fruit if you are lucky. Faced with a platter of sandwiches there’s often little option but to tuck in. It’s not like you can bring your own lunch from home, because you’re staying away.

You also may not have the time, inclination or local area knowledge to hunt for lunch from a different – more healthy – source.

So what do you do? Well very little really. Just try to minimise the damage, and maybe ask colleagues if it’s possible to order in a salad for you rather than sandwiches.