The Ultimate Birthday Party Pregame Plan To Feel Awesome Tonight (And Tomorrow Morning)

Whether you’re throwing a big blowout bash or looking forward to a quiet night with friends, your birthday is one day you want to feel your very best. But if you’ve been slacking in certain areas of self-care leading up to the special occasion, you might feel more like hibernating than celebrating.

The good news is, it’s never too late to get back on the wellness wagon so you can feel amazing as you usher in your new year—all you need is a feel-good pregame plan. Try these seven day-of strategies to stay on track with your health goals the day of your birthday party and beyond.

Your Feel-Good Birthday Party Pregame Plan

Step 1: Set your intention. If you start most days staring in the mirror, lamenting the workouts you’ve skipped or the desserts you haven’t, notice your internal monologue and consciously make a switch. Rather than allowing negative thoughts of past choices to overwhelm you, try focusing on the actions you can take from that moment forward. If you want to eat a healthy breakfast every day, start today. If you want to get stronger, sign up for that gym membership (and maybe take advantage of a birthday discount!).

Step 2: Get up, get out, and work out! Start the day right by boosting your heart rate with a high-intensity interval training (HIIT) walk, run, or bike ride. Not only will it burn calories while you’re doing it, but it will also create an after-burn effect, increasing your metabolism (read: torching more calories!) for the rest of the day. So go ahead and have that slice (or two) of birthday cake.

Step 3: Pregame with water. Just like athletes hydrate before a big sporting event, you need to hydrate before a big night out. Getting enough H2O early in the day will prevent you from downing your mixed drink to quench your thirst (never a good idea). Plus, alcohol is dehydrating, so going into the night parched will only increase your chances of a sore head the next day. Commit to reaching your quota of at least 8 cups (64 fl oz/2 l) of water spread throughout the day. Tracking your intake in the Fitbit app can help.

Step 4: Lighten up breakfast and lunch. If you’re tempted to restrict calories or skip meals ahead of an indulgent night, don’t—fasting is a surefire setup for overeating. A better strategy for avoiding a bloated belly is to simply lighten up your intake slightly, but be sure to get three balanced meals during the day: Try an egg and mushroom omelet, a light salad or whole-grain sandwich with lean protein for lunch, and a bowl of vegetable soup with a small crusty roll for dinner.

Step 5: Snack before you go. Make sure you eat something before the champagne bottles start popping. Food in your stomach controls how quickly the bubbles hit your bloodstream, and makes you less likely to polish off a tray of sliders. Ideally, you’ll eat a proper meal before you raise your glass, but if you’re running out the door, grab something quick and easy on the go: A banana, cheese stick, or a handful of nuts can take the edge off.

Step 6: Think about your drink. If you’re watching your weight, you might want to steer clear of any creamy, high-calorie cocktails. Alcohol seriously undermines weight loss, so it’s important to choose wisely. Decide what you’re going to drink and stick with it the whole night. The CDC’s healthy drinking guidelines suggest no more than one drink a day for women and two drinks for men (one drink equals one 12­-ounce beer, 5-ounce glass of wine, or 1.5 ounce shot of distilled spirits). Pace yourself: Dilute your drink to make it go further, drink it slowly, aim to have only one alcoholic drink every hour, and alternate with water—you’ll thank yourself in the morning.

Use this chart to help you decide what to sip tonight!

Drink Calories Average steps
Cranberry cocktail 156 4,680
Beer, 12 oz 153 4,590
Red wine, 5 oz 125 3,750
White wine, 5 oz 121 3,630
Vodka, 1.5 oz 97 2,910
Champagne, 4 oz 84 2,520

Step 7: Buddy up. Hopefully, you’ll be surrounded by friends all night long. Recruit one of those dear pals to be your health ally, and keep each other accountable. Book an exercise class or a walk together the next morning—that way, you’ll both have a good excuse to turn down that nightcap. If none of your friends are game, be the responsible friend, and volunteer to be their designated driver (after all, no one turns dow

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