Plan your meals so you stay on the wagon
A hot topic among my clients at the moment is how to overcome their weekend dieting struggles and avoid sabotaging all the hard work they're putting into the gym.
If you're anything like them, you probably find it quite easy to stick to a solid training and nutrition plan throughout the week, yet when Friday night hits, it's sabotage alert.
So how can you avoid falling off the wagon at the weekend? And, is there a way that you can still enjoy a few indulgences, whilst also seeing progress with your fat loss goals?
I believe so.
These are my two top strategies for making it through to Sunday night with your progress still intact:
1. Alter your mindset
Too many people I speak to have a “work week” mentality towards their diet. What this means is that they will happily stick to a plan Monday to Friday, but they leave their weekend completely unstructured. This can set them up for dieting failure.
Stop treating the weekends any differently. The truth is, just because you ate “perfectly” during the week doesn't give you free reign to go all out at the weekend, at least not if you want to see progress with fat loss.
Taking a more flexible approach to your nutrition may help. Meal plan ahead for the week, and be sure to include your weekends into the plan too. Planning is crucial as it will give you control over the choices you make, so you'll be less likely to fall spectacularly off the wagon by the time Friday night hits.
If you know you have a dinner or social event to go to, you can alter your other meals around this. My suggestion would be to reduce the portion sizes and stick to eating protein and vegetables, as these are lower in calorie, which means you'll have a greater calorie buffer at dinner.
You also need to be real about the number of indulgences you have. I believe in the 80-20 rule: focus of making healthy choices for 80 per cent of the time, you can then afford to relax a little and splurge on calories 20 per cent of the time.
However, this rule often gets abused. What starts as one weekend meal out soon turns into Friday night happy hour and a takeout, a larger-than-normal breakfast on Saturday morning to ease you through your hangover, then dinner out with friends, followed by a large Sunday brunch. Before you know it you've gone way over the limit of relaxing the rules for 20 per cent of the time.
So have a good think and ask yourself how honest you're being about your diet. Where can you improve? Ultimately, there will always be trade-offs and it all comes down to how committed you are to seeing results. If your goals are important enough to you, forgoing a few weekend indulgences really won't seem so arduous.
2. Exercise at the weekend
There are a couple of good reasons to get a fat-burning high-intensity workout in at the weekend. Not only will you be burning calories during the session, but you'll be revving up your metabolism to burn more calories after you've finished, which is perfect timing if you have a big dinner planned for that evening.
What's more, if you do a high-volume training session that includes lifting weights, when you do eat extra carbs — and, let's face it, you'll likely be eating a lot more carbs — all these will go towards replenishing your depleted glycogen stores as opposed to being stored as fat.
Training will also put you in a better frame of mind and may just make you think twice before veering completely off track. Knowing the effort you've put into doing a great workout will raise your motivation to stay on your health and fitness path, and may help you to avoid overindulging later in the day.
Try adopting some of these strategies, and I'm sure you'll find it a lot easier to stay on track the full course of the week, whilst also letting your hair down a little at the weekend.
• Becky Wright is a qualified personal trainer, nutritional therapist and international bikini fitness champion. She has worked with clients worldwide, including royalty. Contact her at www.beckywrightfitness.com or firstname.lastname@example.org