Here is where a lot of people go wrong, the weekend. Almost all of us have been guilty of this at some point of our lives. All week has been perfect, not a single training session missed and your diet has been on point. Treats have been resisted, even those cakes in the staff room at lunch time have been avoided…. just.
Then comes the weekend.
At this stage, they may feel a mix of pride and may feel the need to reward themselves, after all it is the weekend I suppose and you have been so good all week, why not reward yourself? maybe a little bit more than originally planned, and then the feelings of guilt come in. This guilt feeling is where it can all go wrong, those feelings of weekly accomplishment turn into, ah well, I’ve already ruined this week, may as well have the weekend as a free for all and ‘I’ll start Monday…..’.
A lot of you may be asking, well why does 5 days of hard work get outdone by a couple of days of enjoying yourself (a little too much). It all comes down to energy balance. What does this mean? Well our bodies run off calories, little monsters that hide in the wardrobe and sew our clothes a little tighter if we have too many of them. Now if we eat too many calories then we store this energy, mostly as fat, and if we eat fewer than we burn then we use some of this fat as fuel for our daily activities, leading to, yep, weight loss. Here is where the weekend may ruin your hard work.
From the graph we can see that throughout the week (Monday to Friday), this individual is in a calorie defecit (eating fewer calories than they expend, thus leading to weightloss) however, on the weekend they ‘treat’ themselves leading us onto the subject of their weekly average calories. This individuals maintenance calories is around 2200 calories, 5 days out of the 7 they are under this, but the weekend caloric intake brings their weekly average to around maintenance for said week. Therefore, weight will stay stagnant despite all the hard work from Monday to Friday.
What makes this situation worse is that often people will get frustrated and fall into a continuous cycle following this protocol, never really making any progress, this is where it is common for people to fall off the wagon completely and give up with their fitness journey, often turning to excuses such as, ‘I have a slow metabolism’ ‘no matter what I do I can’t lose weight’. As personal trainers, we hate to see this as we understand the frustration having dealt with clients in this cycle time and time again and it is our job to educate on how to get out of this frustrating phase and into a lifestyle that allows weight loss and getting fitter to be as simple and enjoyable as possible.
The solution? There isn’t just one right way to do things, you don’t need to be perfect during the week and you don’t need to be strict over the weekend. What people need to understand is that one ‘bad’ meal does not mean you messed up the whole week, it means you enjoyed yourself which is perfectly normal, a lot of people fall into this relationship with food where they feel guilty for eating off plan and this leads to food focus and increases likelihood of binge eating if a meal off plan is eaten. The best solution, enjoy the meal for what is it, and get straight back on track the very next bite, because as long as you get straight back on track, it’s impossible to mess up.
Some Tips we recommend
1. Continue to train on the weekend, by all means take a day off if you need but just because the weekend has arrived does not mean you can’t enjoy staying active. Especially with an increased likelihood to have a meal off plan it is important to ensure these extra calories are used effectively to fuel a super workout.
2. Remain flexible even on weekdays, by telling yourself you’re only allowed food on your ‘cheat day’ increases the likelihood to binge all day rather than enjoying a meal off plan and getting straight back on track. Try a moderate approach of ensuring you’re eating nutritious foods 80-90% of the time Monday – Sunday so that these food focused thoughts don’t steer you off plan completely for a whole day or weekend which may damage your weeks’ progress.
3. Avoid using food as a reward. Had a hard week? Relax with an experience rather than food, take yourself to the cinemas with friends or try something fun. These are a great way to refresh without the guilt from undoing your hard work only leading to more stress.
4. Stay as hydrated as possible, often people confuse feelings of hunger for feelings of thirst and forget to drink as much during the weekend because they are out of their weekday routine. We recommend drinking a minimum 2-3L a day, a great way to do this is by keeping a big bottle to hand, and refilling it a couple of times rather than fiddling around with 5 or 6 small bottles.
5. Make smarter choices, weekends often include social events, meals out, nights out with friends. These can all include high calorie food and drinks. Don’t go famished so that it becomes a free for all, snack on lower calorie but high volume snacks which keep you full but allow for higher calorie evenings to make less of an impact of your weekly calorie amount. Salads, homemade fruit smoothies, even low calorie pop-corn can all help keep you fuller for longer and not leave you going back for your 3rd or 4th plate at these events.
Written by Jordan Winstanley. To book a free consultation with Wirral based personal trainer Jordan get in touch here- http://wirralpt.co.uk/trainer/jordan-winstanley/