If you’re trying to get fitter, stronger, leaner and healthier, it’s all too easy to beat yourself up when you accidentally fall off the wagon.
Sometimes your willpower just isn’t strong enough to order a salad instead of a burger, sometimes you just don’t have the motivation to go to the gym on a Thursday evening instead of the pub, and sometimes the birthday cake is just too damn delicious you can’t not have three slices.
But that’s OK, and, in the scheme of things, it really won’t make too much difference, as one personal trainer has explained.
It’s all about thinking long-term and developing consistency across the whole. What’s more, if you try and make your diet too extreme, cutting out all the foods you really enjoy, and exercising every day, you won’t be able to maintain that lifestyle.
Here’s what actually does make you gain fat:
“CONSISTENTLY eating too much, too many meals out, and too many takeaways over TIME,” PT Anna Rhodes wrote
“Maybe there’s been lots of life stuff going on, work events, moving house, whatever it is, but there’s no doubt that eating lots of chef made or processed food eventually leads to an excess of calories that you might not normally have.
“CONSISTENTLY drinking too much. Alcohol has calories in. It also makes you make less smart food choices, especially if you’re hungover and your body is craving sugars to combat tiredness.
“CONSISTENTLY not moving enough. If you’ve spent the last few months sitting at a desk, on a train or in a car, or on a sofa, then no s*** you’ve been expending less energy. Combine that with the prior two and yes you may have gained some extra lbs.”
Rhodes says she regularly sees people getting upset because the scales say they’ve gained “weight,” when in reality the number going up is often down to other reasons such as eating a big meal late at night, consuming too much salt, stress, tiredness, constipation, water retention and hormones.
She adds: “So what DOESN’T cause weight gain:
- “A few days off training
- “A few days of eating more
- “A few days not moving that much.”
“Learning that a few days off track doesn’t derail your progress is one of the best learning curves you can make in any fitness journey! So don’t lose your s*** and keep it together Susan. S’all good.”
Don’t be an Ostrich this Holiday Season!
If there’s any time for excuses, it’s during the holidays when sweaters come out, socializing heats up and the overindulging begins.
With so much to do, it can be hard to imagine a way to squeeze in the American College of Sports Medicine’s recommended fitness guidelines of 150 minutes of moderate activity or 20 to 60 minutes of vigorous cardio three times a week, plus strength training and stretching. So many simply abandon their exercise routine until the new year, says Los Angeles-based trainer Mike Donavanik, making it harder on themselves in January.
“They start out defeated, already shutting down the possibility of staying active and fit during the holidays,” Donavanik said.
Research shows that half the weight you gain over the holidays takes until the summer months to come off — if it comes off at all.
Rather than giving up and giving in to the Spanx, Donavanik advises his clients who have an existing fitness routine to compress their workouts into short but intense sessions that get your heart rate up and build strength.
“if you can fit in 20 minutes [of circuits] three or four times a week, that will hold you over until January,” Donavanik says, when you have more time and energy to tackle those fitness goals.
Here are some pro tips for getting the maximum fitness benefits in the shortest amount of time over the holidays:
If that hourlong cardio class doesn’t seem likely given your to-do list, try squeezing in 15 to 20 minutes of high-intensity interval training (HIIT) on the treadmill or at the park, raising your heart rate to 80% of maximum in one running interval for three minutes, then lowering it to 60% in the following three-minute recovery period by walking or slowing to a light jog, says Walt Thompson, the American College of Sports Medicine’s president. Repeat the sprint-and-recover intervals three or four times each workout.
When you travel over the holidays, it’s hard to keep up with your strength routine. Donavanik recommends picking a handful of basic bodyweight-based strength exercises such as lunges, squats, pushups and plank-ups that can be done anywhere — at your mom’s house or between stints on Amazon.com. Set a timer on your phone and crank out 15 reps of each, rest for the remainder of the minute and then switch to the next exercise. Repeat the exercises in this every minute on the minute (EMOM) circuit three times a session at least three times each week.
Just because you can’t manage a big workout doesn’t mean you can’t squeeze in mini-workouts throughout the day. Called “exercise snacking” in the fitness industry, it means squeezing in at least 10 minutes of exercise at a time two or three times a day when you can find the time, such as a few calisthenics when you wake up, a brisk walk at lunch, and a longer walk or jog when you take the dog out in the evening. You will get the same benefits of a longer session, Donvanik said, if you commit to it.
During the holidays it’s easy to prioritize shopping, cooking and cleaning above all else. “We need to make sure that during this holiday period we make appointments for ourselves for exercise,” Thompson said. If you know you have a party or family gathering coming up on a Saturday evening, make sure to schedule an exercise session on your calendar for that afternoon. Then you feel better and can indulge without all the guilt, Thompson said.
When in doubt, just move. It’s easy to say you don’t have time, Thompson said, but everyone has a few minutes that he or she can devote to feeling better, even if it’s parking far from the store where you’re shopping, dropping into pushups during that Christmas special or walking through neighborhoods looking at holiday lights. “Any time you can devote to a structured exercise program is beneficial,” Thompson said.
Copyright © 2017, Los Angeles Times
For those of us stuck at a desk all day, snacking can be more like grazing – non‐stop eating between meals. Now that you’re tracking your meals using an online journal (*cough cough*), try to focus on coming up with better strategies to determine what you’re going to eat, how much, and why.
Here’s the focus: Come up with a concrete plan of attack for meals and snacks.
The first step to gaining control is knowing what you are going to eat. And by that I mean – how many snack calories or points do you have a day?
Most of us wouldn’t eat steak and mashed potatoes and consider it a snack. That’s because certain foods and portions are meals. Snacks are similar. What’s the maximum number of calories you want to spend on a snack and what does that look like?
After tracking your meals for a while, you should have a good idea of what your typical breakfast, lunch, and dinner contain calorie-wise. What you have left is your snack/beverage budget.
Once you have your snack budget, you need to schedule your snacks. Eating at regular intervals ensures that you won’t be famished by nightfall but also helps you avoid constant grazing. Aim to have one snack between each meal so you’re never starving when you sit down to eat. Just make sure your snacks pack protein, healthful fats, and/or carbs for extra staying power (think apples with peanut butter or nuts with yogurt). If you know that snack time is at 11am, you can refrain from grazing before then.
Know your snack limits!
Here are some common snacks and the number of calories they contain.
Banana, medium: 105
Chocolate chip cookie (from packaged dough): 59
Peanut butter (creamy, 2 tablespoons): 180
Granola bar (chewy, with raisins, 1.5‐ounce bar): 193
Potato chips (plain, salted, 1 ounce): 155
1 Piece of String Cheese: 80
Snickers, fun size: 80
Baby Carrots: 25