Was I a Grizzly Bear in a Previous Life?

Family & F.I.T.  |  Debbie Hatch


I went out to eat tonight. I was going to say “after a long day” but that’s not really true. It just seems like a long day because the sun was already setting when I walked out of the classroom.

I didn’t need to go out for dinner. There’s plenty of food in my room.  Good, healthy food.  I just didn’t feel like eating it.  Been there?  Done that?


These shorter days bother me – every single year. I’m a “sunny kind of person”! Without it, I’m tired. It feels like bedtime around 6 p.m.

Not joking. I was a grizzly bear in a former life. It's time to hibernate!

Not joking. I was a grizzly bear in a former life. It’s time to hibernate!


My motivation – for anything – really wanes.

Zero.  No, not even zero.  Negative 1,000 motivation.


It’s tougher to get to the gym consistently. It’s harder to finish anything (everything), and I start craving comfort foods. Ugh.


So, yup, I went to a local Italian (my fav!!) restaurant.

Add this seasonal change, a craving for comfort food, and the fact that a lot of people already struggle when they go out to eat – triple whammy.


“What should I eat when we go out?” is among the top 5 questions I get from people. It either makes us anxious


We go out to eat, over do it, and then feel guilty, or both.


First, you should never feel guilty about food.


It doesn’t change what you’ve already eaten. It only makes things worse.  Guilt can lead to binging and an all or nothing mindset.   You’ve eaten it.  Okay, so what.  Don’t make matters worse by thinking,”Well, if I’ve already eaten all of that…..might as well get the chocolate lava cake and a kailua and cream, too.  What difference does it make now?”

Please don’t.  Be done.  Move on.  No guilt.  No shame.


As for the anxiety you might feel before going out to eat, it can help to have a plan.

Here are three things that might make things a little easier.



Do you know what’s on the menu?  When I can (and it’s not always possible) I like to look at the menu on line and decide what I’m going to get before I walk into the restaurant.  This means there’s less of a chance I’m going to walk in the door and order whatever the next table is having.




Can you set one or two specific goals for yourself before you go?  Stick to those goals and let the rest of the evening just happen.

This is not an exhaustive list but some examples might include:



  • I’m going to start with a salad.
  • As soon as I sit down, I’m going to ask the waitress not to bring the bread basket.
  • I’m going to start by drinking a large glass of water.
  • I’m going to order mixed vegetables instead of a potato covered in sour cream, or French Fries.
  • I’m going to get an appetizer (or two) as my meal.
  • I’m going to make sure I get some protein.  If I can choose something that isn’t breaded or deep fried, that would be best.
  • I’m going to get that pie I love so much but I’m going to share it with the person who’s going with me.
  • I’m going to only have one glass of wine.
  • I’m going to focus on the conversation and not just the food.
  • I’m going to eat slowly and stop when I start to feel satisfied rather than waiting until I feel full (or stuffed).



Are you comfortable determining how much you’re going to eat rather than feeling like you need to eat everything the restaurant puts on your plate?  Servings, and plates, are frequently larger when we go out to eat.




What rules did I have tonight?  I wanted to get some vegetables and protein.  I didn’t want fried or battered food.  I’d never been here before and didn’t look at the menu before arriving.



I ordered the unstuffed mushrooms for an appetizer.  Crabmeat and shrimp mixed with some cream cheese, garlic, green onions, and mushrooms, topped with a light cracker crust.  I ate half of it and asked the waitress to box the other half.  I didn’t have bread.  I did have a glass of water.  I didn’t worry about the cream cheese or cracker crumbs.  Who cares.  Those weren’t in my rules for tonight.



For my entree I ordered grilled chicken and mushrooms.  It was cooked in a wine reduction (didn’t worry about it).  I had a choice of soup or salad.  I picked salad with balsamic dressing on the side.  I had a choice of baked potato, garlic mashed, french fries or broccoli.  I picked broccoli.  The plate of food was very large and easily two servings – so I put half on my smaller plate (from the appetizer) and sat the other half off to one side for the waitress to box up.



    • Sylvia on November 15, 2016 at 23:38
    • Reply

    I try not to have dessert unless someone or someone’s share it with me. I love vegetables, I’m not partial to beef so it’s usually chicken or seafood. (PLEASE don’t tell anyone about the beef – I’m from Texas!!) If it’s Italian I go for the eggplant. Once in a while I do like a hamburger. I find the chicken sandwiches too dry. One glass of wine is usually all I allow myself. Not because I don’t want more but because of meds. ??? I love salads but I love lots of different vegetables. I prefer sunflower seeds to croutons. I know I need to start liking oil and vinegar rather than Italian with ranch. I have one wish: that I had a workout partner like you. I know I can’t do everything you do, but a partner would help me out a lot!! That’s what amazes me about you.

    1. I love your input. Thanks so much for taking the time to share it with me. A partner really does help!! I wish we lived closer so that we could help each other.

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