Summer 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?