Shaping Up '“ Socialise without wrecking your diet

We all love to socialise with friends and family and I know it can be a huge challenge to eat out and stay on track with your fitness goals.

By The Newsroom
Monday, 15th February 2016, 1:48 pm
Updated Monday, 15th February 2016, 1:50 pm
Personal fitness trainer Graham Low in his centre at the Seaham Marina.
Personal fitness trainer Graham Low in his centre at the Seaham Marina.

It is possible though and just requires some discipline and the right choices. Here are eight of my top tips for you to try next time you’re out socialising:

1. Have a snack before you go out

Eat healthy.

Consuming calories before you go out for a meal may seem counterproductive, but it can save you hundreds of calories later.

If you have a healthy snack before you go out it will suppress your hunger, meaning you won’t want to eat as much when you’re out.

Try having a piece of fruit or one of the No Bake Oat Balls.

2. Have a plan and stick to it

Oat balls.

Have a look at the menu online and decide what you’re going to have before you go out. When you get to the restaurant order your food first so you don’t feel pressured to get what everyone else is having. You might even find that your friends follow your healthy lead.

3. What to choose?

If you’re unsure what to order, then go for grilled steaks, chicken and fish rather than fried options. Go for extra vegetables or a leafy green salad instead of simple carbohydrates.

Or choose the better carbs like sweet potato, brown rice and quinoa. Imagine your plate being ½ vegetables, ¼ good protein, ¼ good carbs (or more vegetables and skip the carbs) with a source of good fats for a well balanced meal.

Eat healthy.

4. What not to choose

Avoid cheese as it tends to clog digestion and cause inflammation. Simple carbohydrates like bread, white rice and pasta should be avoided too.

5. Be in control

Sauces and dressings usually contain ingredients and extra sugars that our body does not need, so ask the waiter to put any dressings/sauces on the side and then you’re in control of how much you eat.

Oat balls.

6. Choose a healthy dessert

If you’ve got a sweet tooth this can be the hardest thing to avoid. Try having some fruit to satisfy the cravings. Or take a small bar of dark chocolate with you so you don’t have to miss out completely. If you really can’t resist a dessert off the menu then try to get a friend to share it with you so you don’t have to eat the whole 

7. Limit alcohol

One glass of wine is £4.95. A bottle is £12.95. It makes sense to go for the bottle, right? It may make sense for your pocket, but not for your health. Do you really need that extra alcohol?

Next time you’re out for a meal order one glass of wine, enjoy it, and make it last. Order a bottle of still water with your meal and keep sipping that too (your glass of wine will last longer).

8. Don’t be afraid to ask

I find that some restaurants have very little healthy options on the menu. In this case I normally ask the waiter to go and ask the chef if they can make something special that is not on the menu.

If they need some ideas, have a look at what vegetables and proteins are included in other dishes on the menu, and suggest they make something that uses a combination of those things. You can also mix and match things in most cases.

For example, a big breakfast at a cafe will usually include eggs and bacon with beans, hash brown and a tomato.

In this case I’d ask them to swap the beans with mushrooms and the hash browns with avocado, making a healthier meal. In my experience most places are happy to 

Recipe of the week – No Bake Oat Balls

These are very easy to make, full of protein and perfect for a delicious snack, breakfast or even a dessert.

Makes seven


60g almond butter

60g honey

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

50g wholegrain rolled oats

50g desiccated coconut

25g ground flaxseed

3 tbsp dark chocolate chips


In a mixing bowl, stir together almond butter, honey and vanilla extract. Add remaining ingredients and stir until evenly coated. Divide the mixture into seven evenly sized balls. Store in refrigerator in an airtight container. Enjoy as a snack or a dessert. Don’t eat too many though, stick with one per day.

Weekly workout challenge – Upper and lower body pyramid

This workout challenges your strength and muscular endurance. The aim is to get through the following exercises as quickly as possible. Time your workout and do it again a few days later to see if you can beat your time. If you need a break at any point you can take it, but keep the timer ticking.

2 Press ups

4 Squat jumps

6 Press ups

8 Squat jumps

10 Press ups

12 Squat jumps

14 Press ups

16 Squat jumps

18 Press ups

20 Squat jumps

18 Press ups

16 Squat jumps

14 Press ups

12 Squat jumps

10 Press ups

8 Squat jumps

6 Press ups

4 Squat jumps

2 Press ups

Squats Jumps: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Start by doing a regular squat, then engage your core and jump up explosively. When you land, lower your body back into the squat position to complete one rep. Land as quietly as possible, which requires control. This exercise targets, your thighs glutes.

Press Ups: Place your hands on the ground, slightly wider than your shoulders. With your toes on the floor, brace your core, engage glutes and hamstrings, and flatten your back so your entire body is neutral and straight. Begin to lower your body, by bending your elbows slightly out to the side, keeping your back flat until your chest nearly touches the floor. Don’t let your hips dip or stick up at any point during the move; your body should remain in a straight line from head to toe. Keeping your core engaged, push back to the starting position.

Health and fitness tip

Don’t let the scales affect you. Too many people beat themselves up when they don’t see a drop in weight. Look at it this way:

The scales show you a number that only you see. Your figure is what everyone else sees. So focus more on inch loss.

When your shape starts to change and other people notice they will start to compliment you with things like ...

“You look great!”

“You look slimmer!”

“Your bum doesn’t look as big.”

They won’t say ...

“You look 2 stone lighter.”

Your Trainer: Graham Low, owner of East Coast Fitness, is an award-winning personal trainer based in Seaham. The ex-professional footballer was nominated for the Small Business of the Year and Leisure Awards at the Sunderland Echo Portfolio Awards last year. Graham won the Leisure Award at the North East Hotels Association Awards while working as gym manager at Seaham Hall in 2012. For personal training, boot camps, small group training and online programmes email g[email protected] or visit