This past weekend was our family cookout. As you probably know by now, I married into a very large Hispanic family. We really are a melting pot of different ethnicities and races but the common core of it is our Puerto Rican elders.

This is a time for us all to gather at our cousins house to celebrate life, to celebrate love, to celebrate family and mostly just to be together in one space since we’re all so incredibly busy and live in different sections of New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and beyond. I’m sure you can imagine the food that was there, too. Everything from pernil (roast pork) to potato salad to arroz con gandules (rice with beans) to an apple dump cake. We all try to bring something to share and a lot of times there’s several people that make something in particular we ALL love and rave about and wait for all year.  For me, that’s my mother in laws potato salad and our cousins mac and cheese. We talk about this cookout all year leading up to it and then we talk about how much fun we had afterwards for months.

I personally don’t have a large family at all and the family I DO have is not close. Like I’ve said, I married into the most amazing family.

But I digress.  I prepared myself for this cookout in a lot of ways.  First and foremost I planned out my gym days to make sure I got my workout days in. I made sure I worked hard so that I could play hard. The next thing I did was think even more about the food I was eating leading up to the cookout. I made sure I kept my carbs low, my proteins high, my sweets in check and I drank PLENTY of water. I wanted to save my calories, to be honest, for what I KNEW was going to be at the cookout. Thirdly, I bought an outfit that made me feel good. I know that seems like a strange way to prepare BUT…  if we put something on our bodies and look in the mirror and say “Oh, I LOVE how this looks on me.” we’re less likely to throw caution to the wind and eat everything in sight because we know how good it tastes. I found a romper at Walmart for $12 and when I put it on in the dressing room the first thought was “This is what I’m wearing to the cookout.” I loved it that much. Plus, let’s be honest, it was comfortable. Like wearing pajamas all day. Not. Even. Kidding.

When we arrived at the cookout we greeted everyone as we always do (that takes a REALLY long time but I love it so much) and then it was time to make a plate of food for myself. The first thing I did was survey what was in the buffet line and then I surveyed the dessert area. Why, you ask? So that I could make decisions ahead of time what I was going to put on my plate, what I was willing to eat and not eat so that I could keep my food intake in balance with how hard I’ve worked to drop 80lbs.  Some people can eat candy bar after candy bar and not gain an ounce. My body make up doesn’t rock out like that. It sees chocolate and BOOM. 10 lbs on my hips.

I chose carefully.  What was worth the calories and what wasn’t? The fried chicken wing from my sister in laws mother is totally worth it. So is the cornbread with coconut in it from our young cousin. Oh… and let’s not forget the amazing orzo salad our other cousin made. It had feta cheese in it but since I was choosing that over mac and cheese, I ate it and it was amazing. And no, for the record, I didn’t have any of the mac and cheese. And no, I’m not sad about it. I know that there will be plenty of opportunity to have a little bit either at Thanksgiving or Christmas… so I’m not missing out.

Since I have a major sweet tooth, dessert was where I decided to spend most of my calories. A bit of my sister in laws apple dump cake and then there was a yellow cake with fruit on top. I don’t know what it was but MAN, it was delish.

All the while I’m drinking bottles of water like crazy. Since alcohol isn’t worth the calories to me, I chose water or I finished the juice pouches my niece and nephew didn’t want anymore.

It really is possible to attend a big cookout or BBQ and enjoy every piece of food you put into your mouth. It’s possible to drink more water so you’re a little fuller (and hydrated because it’s HOT) and you aren’t as hungry for a second plate until it’s dinner time. It can be done. You really can have your cake and eat it too. It is that simple.

Above is a picture of Bec and I. The first side is from 2016 – I was about 285 in that picture. By the 2018 BBQ, I was 308 at least.  There are no pictures of us standing next to each other.  I was way too embarrassed.  The 2nd side is from this past Saturday…  the 3rd. I’m 230 lbs in the $12 romper that I love.

I know it seems like a daunting task or even like you’re about to deny yourself your favorite dessert that your aunt on your Dad’s side makes.. but you really don’t have to. Moderation. Portion control. Asking yourself “Is this worth the calories?” helps more than you know. If you need help, I’m right here ready to help you get there.  We all are. Just come into 13 Stripes!

See you at the box!!!

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