NEWSFLASH: We like alcohol.  We like it a lot.  We also like to work out and stay in shape.  The sad, hard truth about these facts is that they certainly conflict.  I can tell you right off the bat that drinking alcohol definitely can derail my healthy lifestyle.  Overeating, dull skin, dehydration, belly bloat, lack of smoothness in the back of my legs (my personal problem area), and more to boot.

On the flip side, with alcohol, comes times of celebration with friends and family, an amazingly tasty way to wind down after a long day, and great times to remember.  With summer coming, all we can think about is an icy Corona on the beach, a few glasses of Rose with the grill going on the patio, and a Mint Mojito on a fantastic NYC rooftop.

So, how do we manage to drink alcohol and still be fit?

1.  For one, obviously, the word we all love to hate is moderation.  Your favorite foods in moderation, your favorite booze in moderation.  Simple as that.  I’m not gonna lie, it has taken years for me to exercise drinking in moderation, and every once in a while I still tend to consume too much.  Hey, it happens.  There are many contributing factors that lead to overconsumption..

2.  The #1 habit I have taken on that is a serious game changer is drinking water while I drink my cocktail.  Either alternate between water/cocktail, or simply have a glass of water on hand while you’re having your drink.  Trust me, you’ll still get a buzz going.  Not only does water keep you hydrated (helping prevent a hangover the next day!), but it also fills you up, which may prevent you from binge-eating later.

3.  Which leads me to my next point: MAKE SURE YOU EAT BEFORE YOU START DRINKING! Eating before, while you are still clear-headed, means that you are more likely to have a well-balanced meal.  After a few cocktails and the hunger pains of an empty stomach hit, suddenly pizza or disco fries is not only a good idea, but the ONLY WAY TO GO.   Now, not only are you consuming alcohol calories, but you’re eating grease and calories that will no doubt have you feeling terrible the next day.

4.  Burn more calories than you consume.  If having 5 beers (average around 120 calories each) seems like a great idea, factor that into your daily calorie intake or daily exercise routine.  You juuuust might want to make that a cardio day.  Avoid pastas and other starchy carbs before a night of drinking, as that will bloat you even more.

5.  Be very, very, very mindful of the alcohol you are deciding to consume.  I used to be such a beer girl, and then I started to hate the way it made me feel the next day.  Now, I am a bonafide wine girl, with the occasional Miller Lite, Ketel Soda, or Martini thrown in the mix.  Figure out what works for you.

Some food for thought…

Champagne is relatively low in calories, so get ready to pop some bottles!

Wine calorie count varies, but the average is around 150, so just account for it.

Guinness lovers – get excited! Even though Guinness seems heavy in appearance, a standard pint of it only has 126 calories.  These also may make you feel fuller, slowing down your drinking pace.

Ordering a margarita at a restaurant can run you 450 calories.  Many places use a pre-mix, which is loaded with sugar and sour mix.  Have two of them, and you’ve basically had two Big Macs at happy hour.  Look out for places that make FRESH, on-site margs so you can edit the ingredient list yourself.

Drinks you should also avoid: Any beachy favorite such as pina coladas & mudslides (I know, soooo sad), Long Island Iced Teas, and hard ciders (although just one is delicious).

Work hard in the gym, keep the diet as in check as possible, make the right cocktail choices, and it is entirely possible to drink alcohol and still be fit!