How Not to Gain Weight Over the Summer Recruiting Season

healthy office eatingSummer is nearly upon us!  As law school, business school, and college  interns flood the workforce, calendars fill with networking lunches, team building meetings, and “get to know your coworkers” cocktail parties –  all with lots of food (and alcohol).  Reader A is particularly worried about the summer associate life in BigLaw:

I’m about to start a job as a summer associate at a Big Law firm. I’ve been told to expect daily lunches out, and been warned about the corresponding weight gain that usually happens. I’m particularly sensitive about not wanting to be the High Maintenance Associate–if I’m daily asking for “dressing on the side,” will I come off as obnoxious? Any tips for navigating the summer? Thanks.

This is a great question, because the summer can be a really difficult time for both those being recruited and those doing the recruiting.  We’ve talked about business lunch etiquette before, and we’ve also talked about trying to diet while working a corporate gig — but now let’s talk maintenance.  (Pictured:  Salad Lunch, originally uploaded to Flickr by 427.) Some tips:

- Follow an 80/20 rule. There are a lot of opportunities to overindulge during the summer, both at work-related events and non-work related events.  Do your best to follow a sensible, healthy diet about 80% of the time — and only aim for the steak frites / gourmet fried chicken / etc. entree about 20% of the time.  If you’re a heavy drinker, realize that most of your 20% choices will be in the alcohol field — there are a lot of liquid calories there.

- Seafood is your friend. Ounce per ounce, fish and shrimp have much lower calories than things like steak or red meat (leaner meats like chicken and turkey fall in the middle).  So long as you’re not ordering something fried, the seafood section of the menu should always be where you head first.  (Caveat:  salmon is on the fattier side — but it is filled with so many healthy Omega 3 oils and other benefits that we frequently eat it as a “splurge.”)  Watch out for rich sauces with butter or cream — and don’t be shy about ordering it on the side.  (We don’t think anyone will give you trouble for ordering things on the side — if you’re really sensitive,  perhaps try to make no more than 2 modification requests when you give your order.)

- Salads aren’t always the best bet for your meal. The dressing can be a problem, as noted by our reader, but other additions like croutons, nuts, hard-boiled eggs, avocado, and cheese can make salads extremely high calorie.  We recommend ordering the plainest salad option as your appetizer — most restaurants serve mixed greens — and it really should not be a problem to ask the waiter to put your dressing on the side.  (Here’s one of our favorite tips — ask for lemon juice on the side, and spritz it over the plain salad.  It’s good by itself, or — if you are having a bit of the dressing, it really makes the dressing “pop.”)

- At catered parties, try to be aware of how many hors d’oeuvres you’re eating. We’ve heard different rules for this — some people have a 3/1 rule, whereby they have to eat 3 healthy things for every 1 unhealthy thing they eat.  This author’s personal goal is to try to focus on the healthy foods (veggies, sushi, etc.) and only splurge on 3 really yummy hors d’oeuvres.

- Avoid drinks mixed with sugary liquids like tonic, juice, and liquors like triple sec. Instead of a vodka screwdriver, get a vodka soda.  (Soda has no calories.)  Or, better yet, stick with wine or beer.  It is in your best interest to avoid getting drunk at a work event, for more reasons than we can count.

- Finally:  Pay attention if your clothes are getting tighter. We like to use our jeans as a sign for when it’s time to cut back, but a particular belt, pair of pants, a sheath dress, or even a button-front shirt can be a gauge.  The trick is to wear them frequently enough (or at least try them on) that you notice.  (And, dear readers, bad news:  if your sheets still fit on the bed, the dryer is not shrinking your clothes.)

Those are our top tips — readers, what are yours?

Comments

  1. Additional tips:

    1. If you’re asked where you want to go to lunch, say sushi. I always take summers out for sushi because it’s lower-calorie, and because you don’t get that post-lunch coma. (Fine if you’re a summer with no real work to do; bad if you’re a 5th-year associate facing a marathon afternoon conference call.)

    2. No dessert at lunch except on your last day. To deal with that awkward moment of when they bring the dessert menus, and everyone looks at you, the summer, to see if you want one, I order a skim cappuccino / espresso / coffee. Most lawyers will do the same. Added bonus: avoiding the post-lunch coma. If you really must have dessert, get just a scoop of ice cream / sorbet / gelato.

    • I always wished I liked sushi for this reason! Love the dessert tip – and many places also have a fresh cut fruit option as well.

      I’m the weight loss girl (80 pounds last year) – I said this a few weeks ago on another thread, but I’ll put it here as well — when in doubt just ask yourself if you’re really hungry. Odds are if you start to think about it, you’ll realize you’re good. Also, carry a bottle of water with you. I’m travelling now for work (in a hotel as I type!), and while I love me my expense account, I have a bottle of water with me all the time to keep me filed and from noshing on the go.

  2. In this day and age, I think it’s hard to fault people’s food choices at meals, what with so many food allergies and restrictive diets. I’m never ashamed of asking for certain things to be fixed in certain ways or asking for dressing on the side. And I would never fault a summer for doing the same. Personally, I hate the opposite end of the spectrum summers — the ones who think each meal is an attempt to consume as much high calorie, expensive food as possible. Alcohol and treats (after coffee drinks, cookies, doughnuts in the am) are the summer associate killer. Be wary of these.

    • Especially if you don’t normally eat dessert or drink alcohol often — I don’t drink much at home, but my colleagues at the office I’m visiting now are big on going out for drinks – I limit myself to one – if that

    • as far as the alcohol goes, I’m the only woman in an all-male office where the median age is about 28. Naturally, there’s office drinking at least once a week. I don’t drink much and can’t have more than a drink or two without getting physically ill.

      if you’re able to order without feeling self concious, you can ask the bartender to go light on the alcohol in your mixed drink or order a non-obvious non-alcoholic drink. I usually get a club soda with a wedge of lime or an actual diet soda.

  3. Ironically eating salads can also get you to overindulge later. If you have a plain green salad with no dressing, you’re going to be starving an hour later. Aim to eat some lean protein with each meal.

    • Excellent point. Plus, a plain plate of lettuce with lemon juice sprinkled over it? It just doesn’t sound appealing (or fun.)
      As an aside, a hard boiled egg is 80 calories and 6 grams of protein. While I agree that croutons and dressings can end up making your salad unhealthy, protein with your salad (whether it comes from tuna, eggs, or other lean protein) is a good thing!

    • Fashionista :

      I think she was advising a plain green salad as the appetizer, thus helping to get some leafy green nutrition before the main course came.

  4. While we’re at it, any tips for fighting food coma once it hits? I made the mistake of giving in to the buttered egg noodles in the cafeteria today (why?!?!) and my head is about to hit the keyboard. I’ll probably go grab a coffee, but any other ideas for when you make the (inevitable, for me) bad choices?

    • Can you grab a 5-10 minute walk outside? Or even just around your floor? Stand up and stretch? Sit somewhere different in your office?

    • Eva, I don’t know if this is possible for you, but I always go outside and just walk for about 10-15 minutes. As long as it’s somewhat sunny, this perks me up, even when it’s cold out. (Of course, this is in addition to caffeine, but since you already mentioned coffee, I figured you’re using that “trick” already!)

    • Push ups, squats, lunges, sit ups (if you have your own office and can close the door).

    • I give in and nap. 15-20 minutes of a nap and then walk over to the water cooler for a glass of cold water.

      • Where on earth do you take a nap at work?

        • Office floor!! My best friend when I am pregnant. LOL. :)

        • Used to have the perfect nap set-up – desk had no front panel, just a bar across the middle – door closed, legs over the bar, feet on the chair on the other side, lean back. Perfect. Now, with a front-paneled desk – door closed, head on the desk. Less comfortable but it works when you’re approaching food coma.

        • I used to nap in the bathroom at work. As long as you don’t snore and can get up in 20 mins or set your phone to ring, I guarantee no one will notice.

          can’t do it too frequently, and works best in a low-utilization bathroom, but works like a charm.

          when I was interning part-time during my MBA, I used to grab a 20min nap in between classes/work in my car. I’d park in the company lot on the top level (usually people who came in around 10am) and nap in my back seat. Kept a pillow and blanket in my car and put the blankie over my face.

      • But what do you do if someone walks in on you??!! At my old firm, people would knock and walk in immediately, without waiting for a reply. I eventually had a lock put on the door (when I was pumping and someone doing that would get an eye-ful) but still. At my current office, it seems people generally do wait at least a moment, before barging in.

        • The old set-up was so much better – I just had to sit up in my chair and say “come in”. People generally wait for a response here before barging in. It’s never happened with the new set-up. I guess I would pick my head up and conduct business as usual! If I were going full Costanza style, maybe I would say I was looking for my contact/shoe. :)

          • Chicago K :

            OMG, you guys are hillarious! Seriously laughing here about the “costanza style nap” and picturing someone walking in! Ha!

            As a side note, laughing is a great pick me up, as is calling a friend to chit chat or even just getting up to go talk to a coworker about something work related.

    • Thanks all. I went downstairs to Starbucks, got an ice coffee, and walked around a bit. I’m still tired, but I’ll make it through the next couple hours until I can go home. I’m also oddly greasy – buttered cafeteria noodles are not my friend!

    • This is well-intended, not scolding:

      If you’re crashing that hard after eating simple carbohydrates, you might want to start monitoring your blood glucose. It’s really common to get reactive hypoglycemia from certain foods, even if you’re otherwise very healthy. Having real data to show you how you react to what you eat can help you make better nutrition choices.

      • The hard part is that even knowing info like that, finding something to eat when you’re on the go (especially hard if you’re a picky eater like I am)… I tend to compensate with Diet Coke (not great, but as one of my few vices, I’m ok with it)

    • Wash your neck and/or feet with cold water, also any other skin you can conveniently get at.

  5. I worked at a place like this last summer. I tried to adhere to something like the 80/20 rule. If I ordered something that had a lot of calories (like a burger or whatever), I’d try to eat only half or 3/4 of it. No one really noticed that I didn’t eat everything on my plate, and I’m a really slow eater so I’d finish at the same time as everyone else.

    I also ate much smaller breakfasts than normal and very small dinners at home as well.

    Good luck!

    • For clarification, I meant to say that I tried to adhere to the 80/20 rule, AND in the 20% of the time I was ordering something more caloric, I would eat only half or 3/4 of it. I wasn’t trying to articulate my own version of the rule!

  6. Another possibility is ordering two apps (or small plates or whatever the restaurant is calling them) and no entree .

    I often do this at restaurants just because the apps usually sound more interesting.

  7. I don’t think ordering dressing on the side will make you seem high-maintenance. I can’t imagine anyone who would be annoyed at that – it’s not like you’re affecting *their* food choices. I think that so long as you do it nonchalantly (i.e., no announcing you’re on a diet while ordering your salad) no one will notice or care.

  8. I was a summer associate in 2008 – one of the last big spending summers, so I had lunches and dinners almost every day (and sometimes breakfasts too!).

    First of all, you can always ask for things like dressings or sauces on the side. It’s completely commonplace and no one will judge you.
    Second, know your audience – I found other associates (mostly female but a few male) who were more than happy to go somewhere for a lighter lunch (if you’re in midtown east, I highly recommend Fred’s at Barney’s – they have a great and light selection while still having great ambiance and being fancy enough to count as a great business lunch).
    Third, obviously try to work out when you can. My law firm had a morning running club – wasn’t my scene, but helps you socialize and network in a healthier setting than the meals.

    It’s a lot about choices and knowing your audience. If you’re having dinner with the head of a group or the managing partner, try to be less picky. If you’re grabbing lunch with associates, you should be just fine to pick healthier options. I think the 80/20 rule is great.

    What is really funny is that everyone gains the weight – towards the end of my summer, we watched a slideshow of summer events and there was a very distinctive change at an event in late July when everyone just looked a little plumper than they did during the May and June events.

    I gained about 5-7lbs that summer but I went into it knowing that it was going to happen and not trying to fight it. I’ll never eat like that again (at least not on someone else’s dime), and I wanted to enjoy every bite. I worked out and ate better once I got back to law school, and the weight came off fairly easily. So, it’s really not the end of the world even if you do gain a few, but remember, I gained that eating anything I wanted. If you’re careful, you should be just fine.

    • I gained about 5-7lbs that summer but I went into it knowing that it was going to happen and not trying to fight it. I’ll never eat like that again (at least not on someone else’s dime), and I wanted to enjoy every bite. I worked out and ate better once I got back to law school, and the weight came off fairly easily.

      This is a good point. If you go back to eating normally when you’re done for the summer (and really, who can afford to eat like a summer associate when you’re not a summer associate?), it’ll probably not really matter.

      • We have the same thing in the accounting world — during busy season from January to April 15 everyone in public accounting packs it on by sitting at their desks for 80 hours, and eating firm provided breakfast, lunch and dinner 6 days a week…or 7. Then April 16 we take off, and on April 17 we always started Weight Watchers at work ;-)

        No one ever had major weight loss doing it, but we did fit back into our summer clothes.

    • I think as long as it’s 5-7 lbs, that’s fine. If someone is gaining 15-20 and then taking it off, then gaining and taking it off, that counts as yo-yo dieting and it’s bad for your heart (heart stress from repeated crash dieting is what killed Mama Cass, not her weight). Plus there is the whole issue of “weight creep” – someone gains 5 lbs in the spring/summer, says “ah, I’ll take it off later,” then Christmastime comes and a new five lbs. is added to the original five…you get the picture. This is exactly how I gained weight over about 8 years. Needless to say, I ended up with a lot more than 5 lbs. to take off! The best tactic is to just stay conscious of what’s going on and don’t let things “slide” for too long – or at all.

  9. I am obviously no authority (see buttered egg noodles above), but when I go on business lunches and dinners, one thing I do sometimes helps keep intake more reasonable is to look at the menu for the restaurant we’ll be going to in advance. That usually gives me more time to think about what the best choices are, and once I’ve identified those choices, I’m more likely to stick with them, rather than be tempted by lobster bisque, chicken parm, and molten chocolate cake!

    • I do the same thing – if you think about it ahead of time, you are prepared. Plus I am kind of a foodie freak, I like to look up restaurants and see the reviews of what people liked. If it’s the gourmet fried chicken, then I can decide whether it’s worth it beforehand!

      Also, portions are so huge – I try to only eat half and if it is the kind of thing that will keep, I’ll take the other half back with me (I know there was some disagreement a while back on this board about whether it is ok to take leftovers after a work lunch – obv I fall on the side that thinks it is not a big deal, though I wouldn’t do it with a client). Would I have taken leftovers when I was a summer – I don’t remember doing it, but I wouldn’t care if an intern did it with me.

    • I used this strategy and found that it had an added benefit–if you are the only summer at the lunch, there’s a good chance that all of the attention will be on you and that you will be answering a lot of questions. By checking menus before getting to the restaurants, I could actually pay attention to what I was being asked and still be prepared when it was time to order.

    • I like this idea. Lots of restaurants have their menus online these days.

  10. anon - chi :

    I gained about 7 lbs on each of my two summers, which is a lot if you are short to begin with. Here’s what I wish I would have done: Pick an exercise plan you can stick to, and don’t let yourself make excuses. The easiest thing as a summer is to get up an hour earlier and do it in the morning – that way you won’t get derailed by late afternoon projects, conference calls that run late, or (more likely) social plans in the evenings. As for the food, you may not often have a lot of control over which restaurant you go to, but you can always eat less than 100% of what you are served. Aim for seafood and leafy salads, and if that’s not available, draw a mental line down your plate and eat half.

  11. After just two weeks as a summer associate last year, I started noticing my suits were getting tighter. Since lunch was always with the firm, and the food was just too good to pass up, I made up for it by eating plain salads (usually just had mixed greens, and maybe some mushrooms and carrots with a splash of balsamic vinegar) and fruit (usually a few pieces of watermelon or apple) for dinner, and plain yogurt with healthy granola for breakfast, and the weight melted off and stayed off for the rest of the summer. I also tried to be more responsible on the weekends too.

  12. When I was a summer associate, I had a few things I did that kept me the same weight no matter what I ate:
    1. Exercise every morning, 5 days a week. Unless the rules have changed, as a summer you won’t be working late. I would get up and run for 45 minute/5 or 6 miles most days of the week, then do 10 minutes of weights in my apt. It got me going for the day and also burned calories.
    2. Sashimi is your friend! Also, chirashi, any kind of grilled fish, etc. Sauce on the side is fine, and dressing on the side is also fine. Avoid spicy tuna rolls, which have mayo, anything described as “creamy”, and fried things.
    3. Have a 2 drink maximum at firm events, unless it is an only summer associate event. (I got very sick the night of our final party, which in retrospect was a really dumb idea. I was still hung over on the last day of work and even got sick during work, not at all fun)

    • Hmm…. sounds a lot like what happened to me, except the drinking triggered an extreme migraine and left me so ill I had to leave early and go to the emergency room on my last day.

  13. Back in the good ol’ days, I gained a couple pounds as a summer associate. We literally ate nearly every lunch out, and had many, many cocktail parties and dinner events as well. I’m super weight-sensitive (having been obese most of my life, and struggled tooth and nail to get to a healthy weight during law school); nonetheless, I had a blast during my summer and it was worth the extra work in the fall to take those few extra pounds off (this is the only time I’ve ever felt that weight gain was “worth it”). I made friends who, thank god, are the people I now depend on daily to keep me from losing my mind at this place. This is a little off-topic, but don’t underestimate the importance of making friends with your fellow summer associates — some day they will (hopefully) be your colleagues, and you’ll be glad you can count on them.

    Frankly, I’d be less worried about it today. The summer associate culture (at least at my firm) is DRASTICALLY different. Sure, there will be lunches out, but they won’t be nearly as frequent or as indulgent as they once were. There will be evening events, but again: less frequent and less indulgent. Plus, my summer was 12 weeks; yours is probably 8 or 10. That all adds up to less calories over the course of the summer.

    If you’re really still worried about it, a couple of thoughts:

    - Go ahead and eat a “bigger” lunch on the firm’s dime. Then go home and eat an incredibly healthy salad with some lean protein for dinner. Make lunch your big meal. You might find it easier to “fit in” without sacrificing your health.

    - Remember that the associates/partners that you’re out to lunch with have a desk job, too. They are human, and some of them likely are just as picky/food conscious/allergic/whatever as you. Don’t make a big deal over your preferences, and they won’t either.

    - Join (and then actually use daily) a gym. You can’t undo a 1,000 slab of chocolate cake but you can undo a cocktail or the “little extras”. It will mitigate the damage, at the very least. Plus you’ll feel so much better!

    • 2009 summer :

      Thank you for your second paragraph! I was a summer last year and LOL’ed and stopped reading as soon as I saw “daily lunches out” in the OP’s question. :)

      • Ditto. I gained about 5 pounds during the summer of 2007 during my stint as a summer, but I think the days of lunches out every day are gone at most firms. At my BigLaw firm, we’ve been told that lunches out only on the first and last day of the summer program. Most other days food will be brought in from local sandwich/salad places. It’s still free food so hopefully no one complains, but it certainly won’t be as lavish as my summer and frankly, I think that’s a good thing.

        • At my biglaw firm it’s still lunches out 3/5 days of the week (catered CLE-type lunches/meetings the other two days).

          Cheaper, “informal” lunches are encouraged (at $20/person), but restaurant lunches are still permitted (at $50/person), an unlimited number of times.

  14. A great rule to follow is to only eat when you’re actually hungry! When you’re not hungry anymore, stop eating – even if there is food left on your plate. Just because the firm has free food everywhere you turn doesn’t mean you need to eat it. In dining situations outside the office, think about what you’ve already eaten that day/week – try to balance yourself out (and fit in that occasional workout – especially if the firm is covering gym membership for your summer!)

    • And an addendum to this, don’t let yourself get too hungry – don’t skip breakfast in anticipation of lunch out trying to save calories. You’ll likely be so hungry you’ll just end up eating much more than you would have otherwise.

      • Agreed! You can always start out the day well with a healthy breakfast :-)

        • This also applies to late afternoons, before events — eat a granola bar, a protein bar, an apple with peanut butter (as I’m noming on right now). This way you don’t go to the cocktail party and snarf down 8 mini eggrolls, half a tray of cheese, and a dozen mini-quiche. Also it means you don’t get tipsy off a glass of wine either.

    • RE: the idea that because someone else is paying for your food or it’s “free” or came with the conference registration – I used to think that. I got over it when I decided free is not cheap if it means I carry it around on my hips forever or have to work like a dog to get rid of it.

  15. I think the trick is to get rid of the “I’m going out to eat, so I get to treat myself” mindset if you’re heading to restaurants daily/near daily. If you weren’t going out to eat, what would you have for lunch? Probably not an appetizer, entree, and dessert. Try to order something close to what you’d make yourself if you were eating lunch at home.

  16. Be more weary of what you’re eating when you’re not going out on the firm’s dime. Even though you may be dead tired when you get home, take the effort to actually cook/prepare yourself a dinner at home (as opposed to something that comes frozen/from a can/from a box). My experience is that cooking for myself usually ends up being far healthier than eating something pre-prepared or ordering in.
    Watch portion sizes. Alot of restaurants have huge portion sizes (this coming from a chubby girl who loves food). No one’s going to scoff at you not finishing your plate (unless you took all of two bites, maybe). And I would imagine that most attorneys wouldn’t think twice about a broke-ass law student wanting to take leftovers home.
    Finally, get thee to the gym. Some people have said to go in the morning. Personally, I’m not much of a morning person and tend to go a couple hours after dinner (think like 8-9pm). I know it’s not ideal but (1) getting up any earlier than 6:30-7a is a serious challenge for me and (2) at least I’m going.
    And good luck on your summer internship! Work hard and have (at least a little) fun!

  17. I think the main problem for interns and summer associates is that often this is the first time in your life where you’re eating in a restaurant regularly, and a restaurant feels special and like you should treat yourself. Even if you’re super excited about the delicious menu items available, remind yourself that you can come back here again. And seriously, people here will disagree with me, but there’s nothing wrong with asking for a to-go bag if you can only eat half your lunch. Don’t stuff yourself because you don’t want to waste food.

    I think it’s important to monitor what you eat throughout the day, if you can do so without obsessing. If I know that I’ve only eaten 1500 calories by the end of dinner, you better believe that I am going to have dessert. But on the other hand, if I know I’m at 2200, I’ll probably order a cup of tea and call it a night. Of course there are days where I have 2200 calories plus dessert, and that’s okay so long as there aren’t a lot of those days and I am getting plenty of exercise. You need to hit a balance of being aware of what you eat without being compulsive about it.

    I think a lot of women aren’t aware of just how many calories are in booze, especially sugary ones. A frozen margarita or chocolatey drink can have 500+ calories, and after three of them you’ll find yourself craving fries too. Bread-based and cream-based foods also have a lot of calories. Eat pastries, bagels, cheese, creamy soups, creamy salad dressing, etc in moderation. You’ll feel more full if you get more protein, anyway. Also be careful about artificial sweeteners. They’ve been shown to make you more hungry and stimulate cravings. Most restaurants will have a fruit cup or something similar as a dessert option.

    You may find yourself running to grab mid-morning or mid-afternoon coffees. Resist the urge to order a pastry or muffin with that. You don’t need a 500 calorie snack between meals. Keep healthy snacks in your desk if you get hungry.

    Finally, most of us find that we gain weight more easily once we start working. Running from class to class carrying a backpack burns calories, apparently. Try to maintain an exercise regime, and move around during the day.

    After gaining in law school, I’ve gotten back to and maintained the same size and weight as when I graduated from high school by following these rules, so they work for me. Hope they’ll work for others too.

  18. I think there were a few comments recently about calorie-tracking websites – can anyone recommend a good one? I’d really like to be able to track fat, protein, etc., as well as calories, if possible

    Oh, and I don’t have an iPhone, in case anyone was going to mention the great apps available…. :(

    • There are tons of options available, and in my experience they are all about the same. I’ve used FitDay.com (it’s free, and does not require an iPhone). It is annoying initially because you’ll have to enter/find all of the food that you eat frequently, but once that’s done, it’s pretty user-friendly.

    • I use fitday.com and I really like it.

    • I asked, and found My Plate on the Livestrong website. It’s great, and for 45 dollars/year, you get more options.

    • I love myfitnesspal. I’ve been using the iphone app, but they do have a website. The search function for foods is ridiculously easy and very extensive. The app doesn’t let you track fat or protein, but the website might. That’s the one thing I don’t like about it.

      I was using sparkpeople.com, which does track fat and protein, but the search function was incredibly bad and the database of foods really limited. Entering a meal into the tracker took about as long as eating the meal did.

      • I use myfitnesspal.com also, and the website lets you customize what you want to track (calories, fat, protein, carbs, etc.) I think it’s really easy to use, and it has a ton of foods already listed in its database, including many restaurant foods.

    • John Gregg, MD :

      Go to sparkpeople.com – free site with ads, excellent tracking software with full nutritional data.

  19. Veggie lover :

    For you vegetarian summer associates out there, be especially careful. Invariably the only vegetarian entree (and I don’t count fish as being vegetarian) is a pasta entree smothered in sauce and butter. It’s usually divine but sooo fattening. And eating just a salad never made me feel full. There’s not much that can be done except to work out and skip dessert. Have fun all!

    • I am beg, and I love pasta. But I ask them for a tomato/pesto base (cream sauces make me feel rather sick). Usually restaurants will oblige even if that’s not listed on the menu.

      • I meant “veg”!!

        • Chicago K :

          Good idea! Veg here too, and while sometimes the creamy sauce is divine, often it is sooo rich it makes me feel ill too. I’ll have to remember this tip.

          • I’m a vegetarian as well, and I’ll be a summer associate this summer. I’m not too fond of pasta– is it enough to order soup and salad if at a restaurant without much else for vegetarian options? I had to do this a few times interviewing because there were simply no vegetarian entrees, and no one seemed to take issue with it. Thoughts?

  20. For me, summer is when I’m likely to loose weight, because it’s too hot to eat and because I’m more active. Starting a big internship or new job, you won’t be able to play like that, but weight gain is a real part of a new job when you graduate too, and then can go on incrementally for years. Better to get in the habit of making appointments with the gym (or courts, or lanes) now than to think this is just one big push/one small slice. Once you make it through the summer with no extra weight, you’ll know that you can do it once you start work.
    As for being high maintenance–I’m a vegetarian and try to suss out menus ahead of time so I have an idea of what to order where ever we go: potato at the steak house, enchiladas with cheese at the Mexican place, etc. You might try that approach, if it’s not a pain to find out ahead of time where you’ll be going.
    Good luck!

    • and about doggie bags–You might want to divide your meal into two before you even begin eating. If it’s comfortable to do so, you can make a comment on the “freshman 10″ or whatever you want to call it, or about starving law students. Both of those are familiar rites of passage that your dinner companions have probably been through and they’ll appreciate your proactive approach.

      • I always when I start eating cut my portion in half. If I eat all of that, I wait ten minutes, and then assess whether I want more. I rarely do, and I also find it very hard to actually limit what I’m eating without cutting it in half.

      • Hmmm…there was a thread a while back about whether or not it was appropriate to take a doggy bag home from a business lunch. Personally, I don’t see what the big deal is (although I probably wouldn’t do it if it was a lunch with a client). However, I seem to recall that a lot of people in that thread thought that this was not a good idea. Given that there do seem to be a number of people who would frown on this, given that being a summer associate is basically a summer-long interview, and given that we are not seeing near 100% offer rates any more, I would be very hesitant to be taking home doggy bags as a summer.

      • Mmm, I’m not against taking home doggie bags generally, but I feel like dividing the meal in half to start with sends a really bad signal. Basically “I know I’m over-ordering but I want to get dinner out of this too.” I don’t think there’s anything wrong with asking for a half portion of something or ordering an appetizer instead of an entree instead, but I’d be wary of looking like I was actively trying to get two meals on the firm’s dime.

        • I would think it very, very strange if a lunch/dinner companion divided their meal in two before they even started eating, and then only ate half.

          But on the other hand, I would not think twice if they DIDN’T do this, but then simply ate half and stopped.

          Maybe I’m a terrible person, but if you have to physically divide your food in half before you start eating, it sends the message that you don’t have very good self-control. Not sure that is what you want to send out on a summer-long interview.

          • Agree – divide it in two mentally, not physically. Or if physically is a must, do it very subtlely – like pushing a bit of food around on your plate or cutting your fish in half, but not dumping half of it onto a bread plate. Basically, don’t call attention to the fact that you’re doing this at the beginning of the meal.

  21. I was a summer associate last year, and lunches out or catered lunch presentations happened most days of the week. I still actually managed to lose weight over the summer, though.

    Things that helped: Eating small dinners (often after a big lunch, I wouldn’t want more than a little sushi or Pinkberry for dinner), not eating red meat, walking a lot (this happens naturally if you’re going to New York), and being so stressed about the uncertainty of our offer rate that I lost my appetite.

  22. A few tips that worked for me:

    1.) If you take public transportation, get off a stop or two early and walk a little extra. Adding an extra mile or two of walking each day won’t undo everything, but it helps.

    2.) If you’re eating out for lunch, try to take it easy at dinner time.

    That being said, you’re never going to have the opportunity to be wined and dined like this again. Enjoy it and don’t stress out too much about a couple of extra pounds. :)

  23. I think paid-for lunch is actually a great opportunity to lose weight. When I’m paying my own way, I am often too stingy to order the “healthier” items … i.e., a chicken dish or a burger costs way less than a piece of fish on just about any menu. Same with pasta (esp. with pasta!).
    Yes, obviously, some fish or veggie dishes are covered with butter sauce, etc., but there are usually options and you can always ask to leave your sauce on the side. That, and being able to order an appetizer (assuming others are ordering them) gives you an opportunity to fill up on something healthy like a salad before diving into something less so (which you’ll likely eat less of as a result).
    Finally, one small piece of advice that worked for a good friend — she basically ate what she wanted but ate proteins and carbs separately. Veggies going with either food group. For some reason, your body digests these foods differently, so steak eaten alone, e.g., is much easier to burn off than steak & potatoes; pasta with veggies much easier than spaghetti w/meatballs. Although it takes some readjusting, my friend actually ended up losing about 20 lbs this way, without giving up anything at all, & all w/o feeling even remotely deprived. Just some food for thought. All in all though, in this economy, this is a wonderful problem to have, so keep that in mind, too. :)

  24. I have to say I loved the last note : if your sheets still fit the bed….
    I usually skip the entrée and go straight to a main meal but eat slowly and I drink a lot of herbal tea during the meal for two reasons:
    First; it is a nice non-work-related conversation starter, I love tea and know a little about it to be able to discuss it
    Second; hot tea is .. well.. hot! so you have to sip it slowly throughout the meal and the taste changes as time passes
    Third; tea has zero calories, I drink it with no honey or sugar

    I am not sure if this is feasible for you during hot summer days but I can handle hot tea on summer
    I hope this tip helps a bit

  25. I like the earlier comment about remembering to eat before you drink. If you’re going out for a happy hour on the firm’s dime, there will usually be appetizers ordered with drinks, but remember that drinks come out before the food, and the food is usually not healthy and you don’t have control over ordering it. Eat a handful of almonds or a cup of yogurt or peanut butter on apple slices before going to the happy hour. I learned this the hard way – forgot to eat before a firm happy hour, had a glass of wine, and needed to be helped outside after I almost fainted. I also tend to be an angry drunk when I’m hungry, which isn’t a good idea at employer functions.

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