Are you one of those people who likes fitness, eats healthily and makes sensible lifestyle choices but come the weekend, it’s time to let your hair down and binge on reward foods that you would never dream of during the week?
Do you also long for a flatter stomach and more definition but despite endless cardio and hours of core exercise all you can see is the same old stubborn layer of fat which will just not shift?
We have all been in this situation haven’t we? We are invested in our training goals so we work hard at eating clean food all week. We avoid the sweet bowl at work and to avoid temptation, we dodge the dessert aisles while doing the food shopping.
But come Friday night, to accompany your favourite box-set you find your self in a cosy embrace with take-away food, a bottle of wine and something sweet to finish it off.
The Habit Of Self Sabotage
It’s been a long week. Managing deadlines at work, the challenges the kids bring, the rush hour commute, not to mention the office politics, etc.
Finally, you manage to sit down on Friday night and suddenly a little voice which has been absent all week inside your head begins talking to us.
The Internal Voice
“Have a glass of wine” it says, suggestively… “You have literally not stopped all week. You are so tired and have worked so hard, you deserve it, in fact, you need it“.
Normally, this voice is often very good at convincing us in addition to the one small glass we initially “deserved”, we did, in fact, deserve the whole bottle plus an Indian take away.
The following day we are often presented with the same voice again… “Well, you enjoyed that little treat last night, didn’t you? Why not enjoy yourself again tonight? You have trained and eaten so well this week, surely it won’t matter. Go on, treat yourself… It’s Saturday night! Let your hair down. After all, you will be back exercising again Monday, you can burn it off then”.
One of my favourite books is ‘Burn the Fat, Feed the Muscle‘ by Tom Venuto. It’s a really clear, concise and easy to understand way to burn fat and get lean in a safe and healthy way through appropriate nutrition and good exercise.
In the book, Tom uses the equation 5 – 2 = 0. I totally love this and use it with my clients all the time. The idea is the progress made by 5 days of healthy eating and training brings you back to zero when followed by two days of ‘bad’ eating. As the saying goes… “You cannot out run a bad diet, even if it’s only on the weekends”.
Creating a Calorie Deficit
You see losing weight and getting leaner is about creating a calorie deficit over 7 days. 1lb of fat is equal to 3,500 calories. Yes, you may have trained hard three times this week, however, in reality, for every hour you workout will probably only burn a maximum of around 600 calories. Of course, we all burn calories at different rates based on age, gender, build, fitness, etc. – However, 600 calories an hour is a fairly accurate generalisation based on the average person training hard.
The problem is working out three times a week only creates a 1,800 calorie deficit, at best. That’s around half a pound of fat. According to MyFitnessPal it’s also equal to a bottle of Wine, a Vegetable Samosa, a portion of Lamb Tikka with Madras Sauce and a serving of Mixed Vegetable Rice from your local take away.
That is your entire weeks progress cancelled out by your Friday night meal alone – and that’s before the second bottle of wine and dinner on Saturday night!
1lb of Fat Per Week
In order to lose 1lb of fat in 7 days we have to burn off 3,500 calories per week, which equates to a 500 calorie per day deficit. As we have already discovered, this means (roughly) a one hour gruelling workout every single day until you reach your target weight. To put things into perspective; If your goal is a 30lbs weight loss (just over two stone)… This would mean working out at maximum intensity every day for 7.5 months with no days off.
The Smart Solution
Realistically, you would burn yourself out before that happens and, of course, isn’t realistic for most of us. Instead, the smart way of achieving this goal is to restrict your calorie intake by around 500 calories a day to meet your weight loss target.
In addition, exercise will burn off extra calories, boost your fitness and tone your muscles at the same time. On the days when you are training you can even allow yourself a few extra hundred calories for fuel and still meet your target weight of 1lb weight loss per week.
What you can’t do though, if you are serious about changing your body shape, is to sabotage your week by allowing yourself a huge calorie binge on the weekend. This will literally reset all your hard-earned progress achieved during the week. Instead, allow yourself a ‘cheat day’ if you really feel you need it.
The trick is to simply keep your calories inside your daily allowance. This means if you want a glass of wine or a dessert (for your results to stay consistent) you need to keep whatever you choose to eat/drink within your calorie target, regardless.
To work out your calorie needs for the day I would recommend using the MyFitnessPal App or website.
How to Stop Self Sabotaging
Finally, you have to learn to control the voice inside your head. It is YOUR voice, after all. The idea here is to follow the same good habits over the weekend you have put in place all week to stay consistent with your goals and avoid falling into the “It’s the weekend, therefore, I deserve…” mind-set. To achieve this successfully, I would recommend some if the following tips:
- Workout on the weekend – You will feel healthier, cleaner and, therefore, feel less likely to want to ruin that feeling with poor quality food/drink decisions.
- Plan your weekend meals in advance – Make sure your weekend food isn’t reactive and you have planned good nutrition and sensible calories ahead of time.
- Don’t keep problem foods or alcohol in the house – It may sound extreme, however, if you are surrounded by ‘treats’, it can be just too tempting to resist. Only buy alcohol or food treats on special occasions (i.e. If you are hosting a dinner party, etc.) as a sure-fire way to keep your calories in check.
- Ensure you snack on the weekends – The weekends often bring a change of routine to your food habits because your sleep patterns may be different and you may be at home more. Forgetting to eat means you will be hungrier in the evenings and will be more likely to overeat. Ensure you have some healthy snacks to hand.
- Avoid the Sunday morning fry up – A large breakfast can be satisfying but you could consume almost a days calories for breakfast if you over indulge. Instead, opt for grilled bacon, poached eggs, whole wheat toast, add tomatoes and bake your mushrooms (rather than frying them)… It tastes just as good!
Binging can be rewarding psychologically but it can be incredibly damaging physiologically. The outcome here isn’t just aesthetics and what you look like, but your overall health.
Yes, over-consumption of unhealthy foods does mean an excessive intake of calories which will harm your weight loss goals, but the bigger picture here should be about maintaining good health. Binging on high processed foods, sugars fats and alcohol can be incredibly damaging for the body long-term.
The next time you reach for the Friday night take away menu and bottle of wine, my suggestion is to and use some mindfulness and ask yourself what you really want your overall outcome to be.
You may spend hours dedicated to keeping yourself fit, feeling healthy and your muscles strong. Do you REALLY want to trade all that hard work, effort and expense for the sake of a few minutes of indulgence…?
If you enjoyed this blog post, please do check out my friend Helen Sanders at Health Ambition.com. She has written an excellent article which accompanies this weeks post perfectly. Helen’s post explains how the scales can lie to you despite making excellent gains and the best solutions to burning fat while gaining muscle. It’s a great read which you can see here: https://www.healthambition.com/how-to-lose-fat-while-building-muscle/
Love your writing, Danny. You have a unique way of pointing out what needs to change and what can be changed. All you hard work in educating yourself and listening to your clients is clearly shown in your personality. You have amazing talent and credibility as a personal trainer.
Thank you so much Tina! That is incredibly kind of you to say. I very much appreciate your feedback. I hope you enjoy my blog and continue to read! Best wishes. D