Keep your friends and your diet

Keep your friends and your diet

Grandma''s birthday cake
Sometimes you just have to indulge.

Would you rather be neurotic and thin, or agreeable and overweight? You just might have to choose, according to article in the latest issue of Scientific American Mind. Studies cited in the article found that people who are disagreeable, neurotic and pessimistic tend to be successful at losing weight. Those who are agreeable, adventurous and optimistic? Not so much.

Take the example of a friend offering you a piece of cake. If you have an agreeable personality, you’ll probably accept it. If, however, you mull over in your neurotic little mind the dire consequences of indulging in 500 unnecessary calories, you will have no problem turning down the cake.

I’ve experienced this firsthand. My (Polish) husband and I often eat dinner at his grandparents’ house. After several attempts to avoid heaping stacks of potatoes and kielbasa, I asked my husband how to say “I’m on a diet,” in Polish. (I was not on a diet, but it seemed a simpler explanation than “I’d rather not get all my calories from starch and red meat.”) I have no idea what Babcia responded, but the look on her face screamed, “You are neurotic, child!”

Then, just the other day, I was at the gym when I heard a guy complaining to his trainer about the difficulty of turning down beer when he’s out with his friends. I see his point. Have you ever heard a 20-something year-old guy say, “No thanks, I’m counting my calories” when offered a beer?

But you don’t have to be an unfriendly, grandma-offending pansy in order to lose those last 10 pounds. The key is to appear normal and agreeable on the outside, while maintaining mildly neurotic on the inside. Here are some tips.

The Acceptable Excuse: The more serious your excuse, the less likely you’ll be met with objection. Medical reasons: “My doctor says I have to cut down on red meat,” safety: “No more beer, man. I have to drive,” and religion: “Sorry, gave up chocolate for Lent” never fail.

The Comedian: If you get them to laugh with you, they can’t laugh at you. Combat your friends’ snarky remarks with humor. Try “Thanks, but I gave up fried foods in protest of the oil spill,” or “Yes, I did order mine without the bun. These buns I already have are plenty.”

The “Accidental” Pregame: You knew your greasy friends were going to order pizza, so fill up on something healthy in advance. Then when the deep dish dilemma arises, you can say, “Oh, I didn’t know we were going to be ordering Giordanos. Darn, I already ate dinner.”

Take, But Don’t Eat: If you really have no excuse, take what you’ve been offered and quietly slip it in the trash, feed it to the dog or take it to go.

Eat Now, Pay Later: Sometimes you just have to indulge. Your best friend’s birthday, your nana’s homemade cannoli, your promotion at work – there are moments when the temptation is worth the calories. Just make sure to do your cardio tomorrow.