When I first started college, about five years ago, I began my fitness journey. At that point I knew next to nothing about exercise or proper nutrition, but that is when I first decided to try and make a change. After 18 years of binge eating and zero physical activity, I decided that I had enough. If I’d known then what I know now, I could’ve saved myself years of going in circles or even backwards at times. I’m thankful for every part of my journey and all that it has taught me, but I figured I’d pass along some of what I’ve learned along the way, so you can learn from my mistakes.
Cheat Meals Should Not Be In Your Plan
While in college, I had a trainer, a very expensive one at that, who also managed my nutrition. According to his plan, I was supposed to eat 1200 calories per day, all week, until my Friday night cheat meal. As a 5 foot 9 woman, who was working out every single day, 1200 calories felt like starvation. The only thing getting me through my week was thinking about all of the food I was going to eat on Friday night. Half of a large pizza, root beer, wings, ice cream, you name it. As long as I could eat it all in one sitting, it was fair game. I did this for almost two years before realizing the damage it was doing to my progress and mental health.
Very simply put, losing weight is about calories in versus calories out. The extreme, and unhealthy, caloric deficit I had all week did not matter, because the 3000 calorie + binge on Friday night put me right back into a surplus or kept me even, maintaining my weight. I was killing myself all week, just to undo all of that hard work in one meal. Not to mention the fact that starving yourself, and then bingeing, is a form of disordered eating.
It does not matter how well you’ve eaten all week, one meal CAN undo all of that work. But don’t worry, this doesn’t mean you have to be perfect all of the time in order to make progress. I am a huge fan of finding a healthy balance. It is perfectly acceptable to have meals where you eat food that you know is not necessarily “healthy” or is more dense in calories than what you normally eat. Just be sure to keep it in moderation. There is nothing wrong with a slice or two of pizza, or some ice cream. Overeating a bit on special occasions such as holidays with your family is not the end of the world nor does it mean that you have failed, should start over, or worse, give up completely. And, starving yourself all week to have a weekly free for all is not healthy. You have to find that happy medium between starvation/binging and eating with reckless abandon – If you struggle to find that balance, fear not, we are here to help guide you and will be with you every step of the way! Contact us to schedule a complimentary consultation.
You Shouldn’t Have a “Do Not Eat” List
All of the time on social media I see people sharing these monthly “challenges” they want to do to lose weight fast. They will looking something like:
FOR 30 DAYS
- No soda
- No chocolate
- No processed food
- No fried food
- No white bread
- No fast food
- No cookies
Not only are these common on social media, but there are also trainers and nutrition coaches who promote these types of challenges. Of course the foods listed above should not be staples in our diet – they are dense in calories, therefore should be consumed in moderation. However, to cut all of these foods out completely, for 30 days, will likely set yourself up for failure, long term. If you are able to just cut all of these delicious foods completely out of your diet and be perfectly happy doing so, then go for it. But for the majority of people, this is unnecessary and unrealistic. As long as you are consuming these foods in moderation, and 80% or more of your calories are coming from whole, nutritious sources, there is no point in restricting yourself to an unrealistic level. I wish I could go back 5 years and tell myself to stop focusing so much energy on categorizing foods as “good” versus “bad”, as it would do more harm than good to my relationship with food. One cookie is not going to kill you! Just don’t lose all sense of discipline. Confused? We can help you make sense of all of this nutrition stuff! Contact us and schedule a complimentary success session with a trainer today!
There is Nothing Wrong with Taking Days Off
Another common mistake is the “No days off!” mentality. You are always told “Never skip a Monday!” I’m telling you, you can skip every single Monday for the rest of your life and still be very healthy, if you want to.
You do not NEED to workout every day in order to get results. I get much better results now, working out only 4 days each week, compared to when I used to workout 7 days per week. Just like your nutrition plan, your training plan needs to be sustainable long term. Does working out for a shorter time, each day of the week, fit better into your schedule and lifestyle? That’s great — build your plan around that. Or if you prefer to only workout 4 days per week, and opt for more intense/longer training sessions, that is fine too — you can be just as successful doing that.
Taking rest days can give your body time to recover, and proper rest for your muscles to rebuild. This will allow you to come back to your next training session fully rested and ready to push your workout to a more intense level, rather than hitting the gym tired and fatigued. It also gives you time to take care of the thousands of other responsibilities in your life, so that you are not running yourself ragged just to make it to the gym every single day. The other benefit of 2-3 rest days per week is that you can schedule trips and vacations without feeling like your entire week of training is derailed. You can get your training in before you leave, actually enjoy yourself and not worry about making it to a gym out of town.
The main takeaway from this should be this: Your training plan doesn’t have to feel like absolute torture and be an inconvenience your entire life in order to make progress. Do not feel guilty for taking rest days, as long as you have a plan and you are sticking to it. Make your training plan sustainable and enjoyable, and push yourself as hard as you can on the days you are in the gym!
Meal Replacements Are Not Necessarily the Best Way to Lose Weight
There are many different brands and types of meal replacements out there, and they are used quite frequently. Often, these replacements come as a shake or meal bar, and are sometimes accompanied by different pills or supplements. If you currently use something like this and you are completely satisfied with your results and feel it is sustainable/healthy for you long term, then more power to you! But in my experience, these types of plans are extremely overpriced and unnecessary. You can eat real food that satisfies you and still allows for amazing progress.
If you like to have a protein shake as a quick snack on the go, or along with your post workout meal when you’re in a rush, there’s nothing wrong with that! There is nothing wrong with using a quality protein powder to supplement your diet when needed. But, there is a difference when your nutrition plan requires you to consume daily, or multiple times daily, protein shakes to replace real food. Those sort of plans, in my opinion, are not sustainable or enjoyable. There are so many delicious snacks and meals that taste amazing, will help your reach your goals, and don’t require you to spend hundreds of dollars per month for one person!
Pills or additional supplements, my honest opinion, are usually unnecessary. There are people that train for strength or physique competitions – extreme athletes, who use supplements to gain even the slightest edge over their competition. That is understandable when the stakes are that high – something that small might make enough of a difference. But for the average person who wants to create a healthier, stronger, and/or, leaner version of themselves, supplements are usually the least important factor in their plan. If you aren’t getting the results you want, first ask yourself if you are adhering completely to your training and nutrition plans. If you are adhering completely for several weeks and not getting any results, then you should be questioning the plan you are on, not whether or not you should be adding supplements.
Think Long Term
There is not a cookie cutter program that will work for every single person. Find what you enjoy and gets you the results you want. Don’t torture yourself following a plan that makes you miserable just to reach your goal, because when you do reach your goal, you will probably want to stop your plan immediately and, by doing so, will undo all of the progress you made. Find a plan that you think you could sustain over long periods of time, something that you could truly stick to and enjoy!
We would love to help you on your path to a healthier lifestyle. Contact us today to set up a complimentary consultation and let’s work together to reach your goals!