How Not to Gain Weight Over Summer Recruiting Season

how not to gain weight over summer recruiting seasonSummer recruiting season: always a trying time for those among us trying to maintain our weight (to say nothing of those of us trying to diet)! I still stand by my old advice on how to diet during the recruiting season, but I thought we’d refresh the post with a guest post from a good friend of mine, L, still in the trenches (which is to say, still attending recruiting cocktail parties and ritzy lunches).  Thank you, L! – Kat. Check out more resources for summer associates, here!

When I was a summer associate (in a year I will not name, but it was pre-economy collapse), I gained twelve pounds in about as many weeks.  A quantity of food I had previously called “lunch,” I started calling “an appetizer.”

Now, however, after navigating many more summer programs, I’ve figured out how to strike a good balance between having fun (free food!  free drinks! bonding!) and still managing to maintain a healthy lifestyle – and fit back into my fall clothes when the summer program comes to an end.

For many, recruiting events are a chance to eat at amazing restaurants and try delicious food, and I’m not discouraging you from participating in that experience.  But if you are concerned about gaining weight, then decide each meal whether the calorie splurge will be worth it.  For when it won’t be, here is my advice:

  • Eat (a healthy) breakfast. If you are a breakfast person, put in the time to plan breakfasts — that don’t involve the words “food cart” or “bagel.”  There are tons of make-ahead breakfasts that are easy, healthy and will keep you focused through the morning.  I like to make a big egg, zucchini and tomato frittata on Sunday night and then eat it all week.  Plus, if you skip or skimp breakfast, you are more likely to over-order at lunch.
  • Exercise. Do what you can when you can, even taking the stairs or getting off the train one stop early.  For summer interns, however, true workouts should be scheduled early in the morning or on nights when you don’t have events, because you should not duck out during the work day to hit the gym.  For everyone else, Kat had some great advice on squeezing in work-outs during the day.
  • Watch what you drink! I cannot emphasize this enough, and for many reasons.  Don’t be that girl (or that guy).  As Kat has advised in the past, at cocktail parties, try to alternate alcoholic drinks with water or seltzer.  You can ask the bartender to put the seltzer in a small glass with a lemon or a plastic flamingo or whatever, and nobody will know that you are not having a cocktail.
    • Speaking of, if mixed drinks are your thing, request club soda and a lemon as mixer rather than sugar-laded fruit juices or soft drinks.  If you need to doctor up your drink more, ask for a splash of cranberry juice or order your drink with half tonic / half soda.  And white wine spritzers are always a lower calorie – and refreshing – choice as well.
    • Skip the juice and soda at breakfast and lunch too.  And try to make your own coffee or tea – the sugar in those frappuccinos can really add up.
  • Make smart choices at restaurants. For your first course, look for something cold – raw bar, ceviche, crudo or a simple green salad are all great options.  If you’re getting a salad, ask for the dressing on the side, or ask for just olive oil and lemon juice, as many restaurant dressings are loaded with sugar.
    • For your main course, pick something grilled or baked over anything fried.  A lot of restaurants will also have options where you can add shrimp or grilled chicken to one of the salads.  If you are somewhere more casual, you can often get a hamburger or turkey burger without the bun, and with a side salad.
    • Oh, and don’t fill up on the bread.  Especially if it’s cold.  (Ew.)
  • Do your homework. Look at the restaurant menu in advance so you can walk in with an ordering plan.  If you have questions about the menu or substitutions, call the restaurant ahead of time.  This will give you more time to socialize at the table, and you’ll look more prepared.
  • Make smart choices at cocktail parties. Be mindful of what you’re eating at cocktail parties as all the passed hors d’oeuvres can really add up too.  You’re better off making a whole plate at once from the buffet, and then politely declining the passed hors d’oeuvres.  This also means you can do fewer food-in-teeth-checks!
  • Don’t be peer-pressured (or beer-pressured). It’s okay to not eat the calamari, the bacon-wrapped dates, or the dessert if you don’t want to.  You won’t look girly for ordering a salad or refusing a shot.  You can have just one bite or leave food on the plate that you don’t want.  Don’t be apologetic – own it; you are entitled to eat what you want.  (But don’t tell people you are “dieting” or looking to “watch your waistline” – that is a huge buzzkill).
  • Snack (if that’s your thing). If you need or want to snack, there are many healthy, desk-friendly options.  If you have access to a refrigerator, mini sweet peppers are one of my personal favorites; they require no utensils and make a minimal mess.  Otherwise, stock up on items like bananas, protein bars, kale chips or nuts to keep at your desk.

Finally, I want to say that the above suggestions work for me and make me feel good.  But I think that they are adaptable to any diet or lifestyle.  So if you prefer to eat a low-fat or low-carb or low-meat diet, etc., do you.

Ladies, let’s hear from you — are you dealing with summer recruiting season right now? Do you find weight maintenance to be a struggle when faced with a zillion cocktail parties, lunches, and more? What are YOUR best tips? 


how not to gain weight over summer recruiting season - helpful advice for lawyers and law students alike


  1. Can we talk about the bar exam 15? I am a complete cow right now, stress eating, taking breaks to eat, and I cannot control myself. HELP!

    • Anon for this :

      If it helps, I can share what I did, but I know it’s highly individualized. I lost around 30 pounds during the bar exam (thank goodness because I put them all on during the stress-free days of 3L) by putting eating and working out, along with every other aspect of my life, on a rigorous schedule. I looked forward to working out for the first time in my life because it was a 30 minute break (I found a high intensity class) in my day and because then taking a post-workout shower was another break several hours later. For lunch and dinner, I lived on pre-made fresh meals from Snap Kitchen (similar to My Fit Foods or any of those other portion-controlled food pickup places) and even though that was expensive, I knew exactly how long it would take to eat and then I’d be done. Sometimes I’d go out for food for dinner as a break, but after a few weeks of eating the pre-made meals, I didn’t want as much food. I think having a serious routine – that didn’t allow many breaks and designated what the breaks were for – helped the most. Another thing that helped was that I didn’t take snacks into my study space – eating was the break and therefore I didn’t mindlessly eat to help with the pain of studying.

      Good luck! It’s so hard, but you’ll get through it!

    • I just finished studying for the CFA exam and I gained 10 pounds in gummy bear and crackers. Mindlessly eating helps me concentrate :(
      My goal for the summer is to run it off, in preparation to do it all again next year.
      Good luck on your exam!

    • When I took the bar, I was very nervus. At law school, we did NOT even know what NY law was, so when I had to study it, I had NEVER heard of the CPLR. Now, I am a BLACK BELT at it b/c of all of the litiegation I do, but then I was PETRIFIED. So, as a result, I ate, and ate, and ate, and also got VERY big. Dad got disguisted at me b/c I had alway’s been svelte, and all of a sudden I had a tuchus as big as a medicine ball.

      So once I took the bar, Dad told me that no one would hire me with my tuchus, so I stopped eateing so much and lost about 15 pound’s between August 1 and Labour Day. I did NOT have a job yet b/c I had not yet met the guy who hired me serveing supeenies, so I pretty much wound up goeing to the mall and the beach all summer. It wasnt until AFTER I learned I passed (I think December), that I was abel to go out and show peeople I was an attorney at law, to be duly admitted after the character stuff.

      At that point, I had lost more weight, so the guy (who looked like the short bald guy on Taxi) hired me on the spot, even tho I did NOT have to be admitted. He said the job was legal, but I did NOT know then you did NOT have to be a lawyer.

      The morale of the story is: Work Hard, Study Hard, and try NOT to eat like I did, b/c no one likes to hire someone with a tuchus.

    • It might not feel great right now, but honestly, during the bar, I say just let it happen. Take walks, meet friends for coffee, make sure you’re taking breaks and getting fresh air, but don’t add more stress to your plate by worrying about weight. It’s an incredibly stressful time and that’s OK. For my bar study I bought 5 pairs of yoga pants and 5 tops from Old Navy so I just had a study uniform, and just went with it. You’ll have time after the bar to lose it all again. It took me about 6 months; I could have lost it faster if I’d actually gone to the gym instead of just doing slow diet stuff.

  2. This is good advice, but I will say that as a vegetarian it’s often hard to eat a healthy main entree. It’s more often than not a very heavy pasta dish or something wrapped in filo dough. Either that, or boiled vegetables which leave you hungry even before you have left the table.

  3. I gained about 8 pounds during the 2L summer, as well. I swear — that’s when I really experienced how much alcohol really makes me gain weight!

    As for the bar exam, I actually found that a good time to diet. With all that time studying, it was time that I wasn’t eating. Meaning, I wouldn’t notice that I was hungry because I was so focused on the books. Be careful about what food you bring into the house. If you know that you’re going to eat whatever is in sight, then make sure to stock up on produce. And make sure that you’re getting enough protein.

  4. Also… If these decadent meals are lunch… They become my dinner. Minimal, healthy food at night.

    And I would not be eating a frittata for breakfast. If you’re going to splurge, you got a pull back elsewhere.

    • Frittatas can be as healthy as you want them to be – I often just make them with eggs and vegetables. Sure, they’re not low-fat, but this isn’t the ’90s and that’s not the standard anymore.

      • Anonymous :

        I make mine with a carton of egg whites and only a couple whole eggs and a lot of spinach….they’re a lot healthier than the vast majority of breakfasts

    • I find that if I eat a really solid restaurant lunch (either something decadent like these, or something like a sit-down restaurant’s burger and fries), I don’t need dinner at all. Maybe a little tiny snack, but usually not even that. So, I usually feel pretty free to eat whatever I want at lunches out. Maybe that doesn’t work for everyone, but it’s something to consider trying.

  5. We have had a lot of lunches lately and it IS fun to explore new restaurants that you might not otherwise treat yourself to. My strategy has been to order a nice fish entree. As long as it’s not fried or smothered in sauce, this is a very healthy option, doesn’t scream “diet” to dining companions, and is often a more expensive item that I wouldn’t buy on my own dime.

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