Weight Loss Tips for Meetings and Conferences

September 30, 2010

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Creative Commons License photo credit: bizjournal

I work for a big company and we luv us some meetin’s

Sadly, I spend large portions of my life listening to banal buzzwords like “circle back,” “manage expectations,” “customer centricity,” and my personal favorite, the ultra-meaningless “solution”.  Most of the time these words are thrown around during Meetings or sometimes even longer multiple-meeting events like Conferences.  (I hear even more of them on teleconferences, but at least there I can roll my eyes…)

Meetings – when they are at least a half a day and involve more than about 5 people – usually come with a few standard items.  Flipcharts, markers, agendas, “the deck (PowerPoint)”, and the dieting dilemmas – especially coffee breaks (always with far more food temptations than just coffee).  More meetings, more breaks.  More people, more food on offer.  Longer meeting, more breaks, plus the fun of lunch & sometimes dinner too.  Several days of meetings? Call it a Conference and really let the fun begin.

Weight loss tips for Meetings & Conferences

1) Set realistic expectations : this is probably not the week you’ll lose 3 full pounds, nor is it probably a good idea to plan to eat nothing but celery sticks and chicken breast, or get in 3 sessions of strength training.

2) Bring your own snacks : every dieter knows this, and yet it’s often overlooked.  A less-than-perfect (but easily transportable & shelf-stable) choice planned for is better than not bringing a compromise snack as a backup & falling into the junk available.  Protein bars, nuts, small packs of applesauce, fruit, etc – there are lots of options.  Even if some of these things you don’t consider your best snack options, it’s probably better than what you’ll find on the meeting sideboard.  My on the road snacks are rarely as healthy as the ones I have at home – but they’re a significant upgrade from the stuff on offer in the meetings.

3) Set a fruit-only break rule : the only thing I eat at breaks at meetings is fruit (exception if I bring my own snacks).  Having this as a RULE not a choice makes things a lot easier.  If there is no fruit, you have no snack.  I don’t decide how many cookies/brownies/whatnots fit into my calorie budget or could kill my boredom.  I just cross the break foods completely off the possibilities list.   I do sometimes grab my purse (full of snacks) and head to a quiet corner to make a phone call (and eat my own snack).
Leftover breakfast

4) Bring your own indulgences with you : Personally, I travel with chocolate, but your indulgence could be any number of things.  In short, it’s something you really like & allow yourself to have so that you can pass up all the stuff on offer.  Knowing I have really good chocolate in my bag allows me to pass the industrial cookies and gummy mass-produced desserts without any regret.

5) Play games with yourself : One of my favorites is to list all the junk I DIDN’T eat.  Everything on offer, listed, and not ingested.

6) Drink zero calories : I generally apply this all my life, but for the meetings it’s iron-clad.  I don’t put sugar in my tea, I don’t drink the orange juice, I don’t add cream to my coffee.  I do focus on getting enough water (and tea) but calorie-free, all of it.  Sometimes in meeting there are vast quantities of beverages on offer & consumed.  If you open this door…

7) At meals, order first & say no first : Ordering the meal before temptations of peer pressure, and saying no to dessert before your colleagues can help you eat better.  If it’s a plated dinner without a choice, I often eat just the things I would have ordered from a menu – often leaving the meal still hungry (and later digging into my stash).  Your fattest colleagues will look to you for a partner in crime to order the deep-fried anything.

8) Bow out of situations : I try to say no to some of the dinner events – saying I need to call home, or that I’m tired, or the one that seems to work best “When I travel for work I WORK all the time, so that when I’m home I can be with my family”.  People can’t say much in response to that one, and I’ve had several a colleague reply that they wish they had the discipline to do the same.  I may or may not really work in the evening – but I know I’ll make better choices alone with a room service menu than I am likely to make at a big long boring business dinner.  Other ways I bow out includes booking phone calls during coffee breaks and during part of a cocktail hour – reducing time spent in tempting situations.

Do you face meetings, conferences & other diet dilemmas?  How do you manage them?

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