Your guide to dating while losing weight

First dates are challenging. But with a little know-how, you can meet your goals — and the love of your life.
Published January 8, 2016

It was a wonderful Thursday evening. We were on our first date: He made a reservation; we shared several tasty small plates and dessert. I indulged a little bit, but I didn’t mind because we’d made a connection. To me, it was worth it.

But first dates don’t always work out that way. Sometimes you find yourself glugging a second glass of wine just to survive while the dud across from you expresses his or her concern for the declining fertility rate. Or sometimes, you feel so anxious about how it’s going that you mindlessly munch all evening. You know what? Not worth it.

Dating and living a healthy lifestyle don’t go hand in hand. I get it; I’m a single girl who has lost 50 pounds* over the past three years. But if you plan ahead, you’ll be able to stay on track while you figure out if he’s Mr. Right.

Before: Pre-Program your evening

Check off a few healthy to-dos from your list: Fit in a workout and have a protein-packed snack about an hour beforehand so “hangry” doesn’t kick in. Try an apple with peanut butter or fat-free yogurt with fruit.

It’s normal to start feeling self-doubt, especially before a first date. If you start getting cold feet while getting dressed, take a few long, deep breaths to calm those anxieties. “Affirmations are key. If you’re not feeling good about yourself, find a different viewpoint,” says Donna Barnes, life and relationship coach and author of Giving Up Junk Food Relationships. “Tell yourself, ‘I’m beautiful’ and ‘I’m confident.’ Your perception becomes your reality.”

RELATED: Create a mantra for all situations

During: Eat what you want — but share, too

If your date’s agreeable, sharing a meal is romantic and keeps your portions in check. And scent out the menu in advance: Almost every cuisine offers healthy dishes. Out for Mexican food? Choose shrimp fajitas with corn tortillas on the side. If you’re at a Greek restaurant, opt to eat meze-style, with small, healthy plates like grilled octopus and a Greek salad. And sip that wine slowly.

If you start to feel self-conscious or think your date’s not fully engaged, don’t take refuge in your food. Ask questions. And if you begin to wonder if the person interested in you, stop. Barnes says emphatically, “You should be asking yourself, ‘Wait a minute, do I like him [or her]?’”

RELATED: The restaurant survival guide

After: Extend the evening — healthfully

So you’ve had dinner and two drinks, but you don’t want to go home yet. “If they says, ‘Want another drink?’ tell them, ‘I’d love to spend more time with you, but I’d prefer water,’” says Barnes. You’re showing interest — no cocktail needed.

But if you find a keeper who is worth that third glass of wine, enjoy the moment. In the morning, press the reset button and make healthy choices throughout the rest of the week so you can feel your best on date number two!

RELATED: Your healthy happy-hour survival guide

When should you reveal your weight-loss efforts?

Talking about your weight with someone you’ve just met can make you anxious. The first rule: Always make sure that you feel comfortable. “Don’t share anything that’s going to make you feel vulnerable, especially on the first few dates — they haven’t earned that yet,” says “dateologist” Tracy  Steinberg, a dating coach in New York City and Los Angeles. When you are ready to tell him or her, stay positive and upbeat. “How they react will depend a lot on the energy that you communicate,” says Steinberg. If fitness and eating healthfully are passions of yours, talk about them. Remember: Being honest about what makes you, you, makes you even more attractive.

RELATED: 9 chefs talk about their weight journeys

*At 6 months, participants in a clinical trial of the WeightWatchers® weight-loss program lost an average of 9.7 lbs (5% of body weight). And, people who track their food more often lose more weight. When actual WW members track their food at least two times a week for 6 months they lose on average 16.6 lbs. (7.9% body weight). Katerina lost weight on a prior WW program.