Many people struggling with their weight find that the weekend is the most difficult time of the week to stay on track, especially during the summer months. There is always at least one BBQ hapening at a friend's house or the weather is nice enough to have a day out on the beach, not to mention the Sunday roast. How could anybody resist?
What if I said you don't necessarily have to resist, you may just need to implement more strategy to your nutrition that include a separate weekday and weekend plan.
Though lots of people worry about falling off the wagon at this point, a study from 2014 suggests that you don’t have to be perfect all the time to lose weight. In fact, Brian Wansink PhD, suggests that adjusting to the fluctuations rather than trying to control them could be better for dieters overall.
Whether yor goal is to lose weight, look better in bikinis or feel better in your skin, considering the following 5 tips for more balanced and successful eating habits can help you achieve your fitness goal faster.
1. Aim for Consistency over Perfection
The diet mindset is always focused on achieving perfection: you have to stick to a set meal plan of set foods and set calories. This often doesn’t work because a) no-one wants to eat the same foods every single day and b) this is way more effort than anyone is prepared to give - especially on a Friday or Saturday.
Restricting your food options too much can also result in weaker willpower over the weekend which is a recipe for disaster. Mainly becaue it can easily create a snowball effect of binging, feeling guilty and restricting more, then binging on even more food the following weekend only to feel even worse and make the next mistake.
Instead, understand that it will never be perfect and aim for consistency. Don't restrict yourself, just control how much of the less healthy food you take in. One chocolate bar won't make you gain weight in itself, so long it's part of your overall nutrition plan. Equally, feel free to try that roast or have some of the BBQ over the weekend, but ensure you only eat once, put everthing on your plate and once it's gone, stop eating.
2. Forget About Good and Bad Food
The good and bad food rules are a myth. The healthiest food in big amount will lead to weight gain. So instead of restricting specific ingredient or food group, find a way to control how much you eat. There are a few methods:
If you are craving when you know you aren’t really hungry, try to find out why. You may actually be thristy or just bored.
3. Ditch Cheat Days
Cheat days are by far the best day of the week - for 6 days you have deprived yourself and now, finally, you can eat as much sugar, fat and carbs as you like! But this really messes up your relationship with food. You automatically cure the deprivation with abundance making yourself feel anxious and greedy.
Instead, you should ditch the cheat days and have a little bit throughout the week. This might feel like you are eating more, but you will probably eat less because there is no anxiety attached.
4. Accept Responsibility for Your Decisions
Choosing what to eat and when can feel a bit like a hostage negotiation with you stood between the options. On the one hand you really want the fried food with extra sauce and a dessert; on the other hand, you know that you should be eating the salad and lean protein option.
The first thing is that there isn’t a “right” decision every time but there is always a consequence which you will have to accept. This isn’t about morals, just a basic cause and effect model. Accepting the consequences is a good way to enjoy your food more and to think more clearly about what you really want.
5. No More Excuses
Food is there to give you enough nutrients, energy and happiness to enjoy a healthy lifestyle. Once you accept responsibility for your choices, it's imperative you will need to make a decision on what you want more: that mildwatering cake now, or a more energetic, fit and healthy body for the rest of your life.
This doesn't mean you should never have cake. Heck I love a good cake myself. BUT, if you want to lose weight and keep it off, or just simply would like to manage your body composition and set yourself up for a fitter lifestyle, that cake should be part of your nutrition strategy and only consumed when it fits your daily intake without risking your progress.
Once you realise this and make a vow to do anything in your power to acieve your fitness goals, there are no excuses, only focused and planned choices.
Feel free to comment or get in touch and let me know what you think. What is your decision?
Owner and creator of One Small Step, Joe has been in the health and fitness industry for 8 years and takes an all-round approach to his coaching.