So over the holidays many of us decided to take a break from exercise perhaps, or just haven’t really had the time and motivation as maybe we were busy spending time with family or even went away and just wanted to relax and enjoy. Exercise, routine and diet were the last things on our minds for many of us. Those of you who kept up the steps and workouts good on you, you deserve a pat on the back, but I know for many it hasn’t been the case.
And now here is the pressure to try and get into the mood to work out again and eat better (mainly pressure from ourselves), but it’s easier said than done.
The little voice in your head is saying; I feel so fat, I ate and drank too much, I gained so much weight, I need to start working out again, I need to cut out sugar, carbs, junk food, etc.
The mental struggle is real, the physical struggle to get off that “holiday food”, couch and Netflix is even more real. To set alarm early and actually start exercising again… agghhhh, Ill just enjoy my holidays one more week and start after January, right? Yup, I hear ya. Because I’ve been there long time ago, before I was a PT and before fitness became my love and lifestyle 52 weeks a year. Not because I have to, but because I enjoy moving my body, unless I’m sick or run down of course.
Stepping on the scales is a little scary right now, so many of us thinking of jumping into a challenge, prepping salads, doing a big shop, perhaps doing a cleanse/detox or some sort of a fast even.
But do you really have a long-term plan? Do you have a strategy?
No you don’t need to map it all out till next Christmas, but you need to be a few steps ahead and have a game plan.
Ok so the “New Year, New Me” challenge or the 8-week challenge that keeps popping up in your feed seems tempting since we are so desperate to just do something hardcore to punish ourselves for overindulging the past month or even 2. Let’s be honest festivities start in November and continue on till end of January lol
The biggest problem with new year fitness resolutions is, they often don’t last because you lose that mo-jo. You get started, you will feel good about eating that salad for a week and getting your steps in, a couple of kilos will drop and you will feel better about yourself, you will become complaisant and not as freaked out anymore about your holiday weight gain and your motivation will drop. Why? Because you were motivated by fear, the fear of extra kilos you gained. And once the fear fizzles off, so will your motivation.
You need a different approach this time. Calm and strategic one. Treat your new fitness lifestyle like an exciting project, not like damage control.
Don’t go crazy, signing up to a gym membership and buying 5 heads of Ice Berg lettuce please, not right now. January is the worst time to sign up for a gym membership because about 70% of memberships that are started in January are not used by March, I worked at a gym, I know. Join gym later if that’s what you really want to do eventually. I’m all for gym, but not out of fear from the extra kilos, but with a purpose to build and progress to the next level and have a plan in mind.
So, what do I recommend that always works for my clients to do in this situation when you really really need to start doing something?
1. Specific goals
Decide what is your goal, be specific, what is it you want to achieve and by when. Preferably a shorter-term goal at first, not for the whole year just yet. Not a 2021 resolution type goal, but a smaller goal like; I want to get into a habit of exercising 3 times per week and I would like to lose 5cm by April. Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time bound. Use an upcoming event if you have one in the 1st half of the year, like your birthday or catch up with old friends that you haven’t seen in a while, trip to see your family if they live interstate (fingers crossed soon this will be possible).
Why is this important? Because ambiguous goals don’t allow you to track how you are going and therefore it’s easy to get demotivated and give up.
2. Make consistency your main goal
Make consistency your main goal for this year, not a wham bam quick fat blast program to undo the holiday damage as quickly as possible (remember that this is the approach that didn’t work in the past, this is why you are here again at square 1). Focus on keeping up your chosen exercise every single week, Ill repeat, EVERY SINGLE WEEK. Unless you are physically really unwell of course.
Get an accountability buddy or a PT if you can afford one, or even team up with a friend to do buddy PT sessions to cut the cost. Or simply get an app that helps you track and tick things off as you go. A step counter, food tracker, workout app that allows you to tick off your workouts and track your progress etc.
4. Plan your diet specifically
Be very very strategic with your diet long term. Write it out.
Bad example of diet planning: I’m gonna go shopping tomorrow and buy lots of salad ingredients, fish, tofu and chicken breast. I will make salads for work everyday and eat grilled fish for dinner or lean meat. I will cook at home every day except weekend, and sometimes take dinner left overs to work with me. I will eat yoghurt and berries for breakfast or smoothies. I will order protein powder now.
Here is what’s wrong with this plan; it’s not specific and realistic.
First ask yourself, what is realistic to fit into your lifestyle? If you are going back to work, will you have time to cook dinner fresh every night? Or will you get home late some nights and will have to grab whatever is there. What if you don’t feel like eating your grilled fish that night? And believe me there will be times when you have every intention to eat your grilled fish you defrosted, but you just don’t want it or don’t even feel like having a proper dinner that night, you are too tired and just want to grab something and crash on the couch turn on Netflix. So, what then? Are you just gonna go to old habits and order Uber or take away? Back to square 1. What if you forgot to defrost, what if you don’t have time to make a smoothie in the morning? What if you didn’t prep your salad for lunch the night before cause, well you were buggered and just crashed.
Have a plan B, something you can grab and fly out the door.
Here is a list of items to add to your shopping list aside from those salad ingredients to have as Plan B for when plan A is not happening. These are my absolute go to when I just don’t want or have time to cook or ran out of my meal prep. I can either whip those up in 5 mins or literally throw stuff in container as is and go.
- egg whites,
- fetta to add to eggs or low-fat cheese
- cottage cheese
- baked chicken legs (ok these need to be prepped ahead, which is crazy easy)
- cans of tuna or salmon
- turkey breast slices
- low fat ham
- avocado, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, capsicum
- rice cakes/corn thins
- natural peanut butter
- Tuna and bean thingymajig tubs (yes, I wrote thingymajig on my blog post)
- 90 second microwave rice or quinoa sachets
- Pre marinated chicken pieces
- Frozen spinach
- Frozen cauliflower & broccoli
- Pre marinated tofu pieces like Teriyaki or Thai Style (can be found at Woolies)
5. Calculate and track, track, track
Now a more in-depth strategy which really is quite simple once you work it out and you know. Let’s focus on your caloric intake to make sure you go into caloric deficit without starving yourself and hating your life. Because the bottom line is, that’s what’s gonna make you lose fat. Nothing else, but caloric deficit.
Some people say you shouldn’t focus on calories or count calories, but what if you are eating around 2000 calories daily without realising it, super easy to do (even sometimes even if you eat healthy), but you don’t burn that cause well you only exercise or walk 3 times per week and you BMR is around 1200. BMR stands for basal metabolic rate which means calories you burn just staying alive. And your additional incidental exercise like a short dog walks or cleaning the kitchen doesn’t really equate to burning the extra 800. That puts you into calorie surplus storing all that extra energy as fat. That’s how weight gain works. Not because we are unlucky or have bad genetics, but because we eat more than we burn off so the rest stores away for later in the form of body fat.
So yes, you need to be educated and know the maths before you can rely on your intuition. Not counting calories or macros is actually for people who know what they are doing and are that in tune with their portion sizes by now that they don’t need to count and weight food.
But if you are a beginner and just trying to eye ball and guestimate things you are setting yourself up for failure, because what you thing you know, you don’t know. Eating salads for lunch means nothing. You need to workout what calories you need to have to put your self into a deficit and track them using scales and My Fitness Pal app. When you have done so for a while and dropped the weight you wanted you will then become a pro at knowing your portions. Tracking is not obsessive, it’s educational. And by tracking and weighing you are learning what you body needs and what your daily eating should look like.
It will take a little time to fine tune in but if you master this you will never ever gain too much weight again and you will be able to fit foods you love into every day, ever chocolate and bread.
Where to start with tracking? Google macro and calorie tracking or even YouTube or feel free to contact me and Ill be happy to give you a few pointers on how to get started. Sounds tricky and time consuming, I can work it all out for you if you need help.