My awesome neighbors always do a great job of cooking gluten free for me and Joe whenever they have use over – which is downright awesome. But when it comes to dieting or the little scheme I’m up to now…well, they may not totally get it. Sometimes I feel like I live a double life where I oscillate between my fitness fanatics (my clients, colleagues and personal trainer friends) and the “regular folks”. Our downstairs neighbors are the regular folks. They do not have conversations about carbs. They don’t discuss why tricep kickbacks are dumb or why you should do a neurologically challenging exercise like a clean or a deadlift at the beginning vs. the end of a program. When I’m with them we talk about our kids, the neighborhood, politics – you know, regular stuff. So how was I going to survive the Superbowl party at their house? Honestly, I didn’t really want to get into how I was on a stricter than usual nutrition plan and how I’d been focusing on a positive mental outlook and keeping my word to myself. They bake me gluten free brownies, but they may draw the line on my positive psychology – kinda sounds like I’ve watched The Secret too many times – heal my inner child banter (especially since one of them is a PhD in psychology and her sister – also at the party – is a therapist). What was I going to do? In the past I would’ve avoided the gathering entirely. I’ve missed so many nights out with friends, special dinners and parties because it seemed easier to stay away than to feel uncomfortable about what I was or wasn’t eating. But to really keep up the diet and lifestyle I need to in order to have the body I want, diet and exercise have to be part of my life – and I will be happier if I can do it in a way that doesn’t isolate me. There are the usual standbys to navigate a party like this: eat before you go; bring something that fits your current nutrition strategy; pick the veggie and protein options; steer clear of the chips, cookies and other sugary treats; etc. These are all great tips! Yesterday however I worked all day and by the time I finally asked them, “Hey, can I bring anything?” They said they were all set, just come down! Then I went for a long walk and showered and ended up not even having time to eat something before I went. Yikes. I quickly downed a protein shake and figured I’ll eat something when I get back. Which was fine, but not ideal. So here was the menu: enchiladas mole. Yum! Double yum actually. But I said no grains, no dairy for 4 weeks – so those were out. The gluten free brownies made in my honor were baking in the oven, the gluten free chips and salsa were set out for me next to a little bowl of yogurt covered covered gluten free pretzels. But no sugar is on my mission as well. I really needed to skip everything on the menu last night. So it begs the question: how was I going to navigate not eating while I was there? What would I say to my gracious hosts? My first choice was that I could eat whatever, call it a splurge meal and since I doubt they read this blog, they probably wouldn’t call me out at the dinner table. But that wasn’t the point of this experiment. We will inevitably “cheat” or “splurge” on our plans when we don’t intend on it and under normal circumstances with 2 clean weeks under my belt, a splurge meal would’ve been just fine. But my charge during this was to keep my word to myself, show me what I was capable of and feel good vs. feeling restricted. Not keeping my word to myself or not being honest with my readers (yes you!) would not have felt good. I also could’ve been completely without conviction or confidence about my choices and been all weird and sputtery about it. Over-explaining and making everyone uncomfortable. They don’t need to know all the reasons I’ve chosen to eat what I do. Defending it is unnecessary. So what did I do? I didn’t say anything. I commented on how yummy it smelled and thanked them for always thinking of us and our gluten issue when they had us over. And when it came time to eat, I said, “You know what, I’m fine but it smells delicious!” I kept myself busy wrangling the kids and kept the conversation going, stayed in the “party” mood and kept having fun. No one even asked. Now did they snicker to themselves after I left, “What’s Brooke’s deal not eating dinner?” I highly doubt it. And if they did, I’m sure it was a passing comment and they were back to dealing with their own life – people spend less time focusing on us than we think! So I got through last night unscathed and at the end of it, again, I had kept my word to myself and stuck with my intended plan. But what if your family outing or friendly get together isn’t as easy as mine? Share. Tell your friends or family you’re working on leaning up or getting healthier – but make it as minimal of a deal as possible. Don’t treat it like a confession, but more like hey, guess what I’m up to. Make a joke, keep it light. Ask for support. If you really feel weird about it, talk to your friends. Tell them you’re really trying and it is tough! Let them know you’re doing something that’s hard for you, that you don’t want to make anyone feel awkward and that you need some support. Chances are they would love the chance to be there for you. Remember it’s not about you. When people do get weird about your nutritional strategies, it’s usually because your eating plan triggers something for them. It isn’t always that they feel guilty and bad about themselves, but sometimes yes, it brings up their own diet and body image issues. Often they mean well, but your plan challenges what they believe to be great nutritional info. Such as, “You don’t’ have to avoid gluten if you don’t have Celiac” or my favorite, “Well Dr Oz said….” Simply say, “Thanks that is a good point” and let it fall out of your head as you go right back to eating the way you planned on. Much of what I’m doing now is part of my life for the long haul, such as being gluten free, so I have to make my nutritional habits work without isolating myself from friends and family. But right now I’m undergoing 4 weeks of sticking to something more strict and less forgiving. That was my choice and I’m committed to it. Last night wasn’t a big deal….because I didn’t’ make it a big deal. 🙂 P.S. Did I feel pretty great about my choices last night? Damn right I did! After we got home and I ate my dinner (albeit a little late) of spinach and ground turkey, and for dessert I had raspberries with a sprinkle of Truvia (and you can’t see it but there’s a dollop of self love and confidence on top). Delicious!