It continues to be the bane of most people's health and wellness journey. They can get into such a good routine throughout the week, yet come Friday afternoon, the wheels aren't the only thing falling off of the wagon.
The CDC tells us that only six percent of Americans engage in the top five health behaviors: maintaining a healthy weight, not smoking, drinking moderately (or not at all), getting enough sleep, and staying physically active.
Why do 94 percent of people fail to meet even this low standard?
Is it because they don’t know that sleep and exercise are important? Is it because they think smoking cigarettes and drinking too much are extending their lifespan?
Of course not. Information is not the problem. Changing behavior is.
There is just something so tantalizing about loosening our belts, putting on our elastic waist sweatpants, and boozing ourselves straight into Monday morning.
I have also seen a good number of people attempt to "will" their way through weekend pool parties, backyard barbecues, or any other generic "celebrations", and they find themselves spiraling out of control.
The mind is sort of funny that way. Somewhere along the line of pumping your self up psychologically before an event and taking the first bite of cake, your willpower burst through the seams and oozes onto the floor along with your self-esteem.
"Well since I already had one bite, I just as soon eat the entire tray of Oreos."
That is what we say to ourselves, but when you really unpack that way of thinking, what you find is that the mind is interpreting a completely different set of beliefs. You may tell yourself that, but the mind hears:
"Well since I have already failed myself and others with my commitments and am now completely weak, worthless, and undeserving of any grace or love, I just as soon continue harming my psyche and my body by continuing to consume this poison that sits before me on this plate."
Of course, this then leads into the unavoidable "Coyote Ugly Health Syndrome."
What is that you ask?
Well, in the wild, coyotes are known for chewing through their own legs just to escape a trap in which they have been snagged.
In college, "coyote ugly" refers to getting obliterated at the bar the night before and waking up next to a stranger that is so ugly that you would rather chew your own arm off as opposed to waking them up and having the charade continue.
"Coyote Ugly Health Syndrome" is what I have termed the dread that comes Monday morning when you are faced with having to wear pants or a dress that isn't as magical as your sweatpants. Sunday's sweatpants contain such sorcery that is capable of concealing even the most horrendous bloating blunders.
But those darn slacks, jeans, and dresses just don't have the same forgiveness. You'd rather eat your dress clothes, or the scale, as opposed to wearing them or standing on it.
So, how do you avoid this seemingly inescapable loop? How can you continue down a healthy path of continued weight loss, fat loss, and avoiding nutritional burnout along your path to improving your health?
Here are a few suggestions that could have you saving your sweatpants in the attic where they belong and investing in a smaller size or waistline in the next few weeks:
1. Plan your cheat meals.
No one says that you can never have the foods that you enjoy, but some of you keep telling yourself such convincing stories about how you deserve them. Your progress towards your goals is the only determinant of that. You can't "feel" like you deserve a reward of sorts and then completely unravel the week's progress. Effort is sort of meaningless in the health and wellness game. Least effective dose should be your aim.
Remember, you can force muscle growth, but you must coax fat loss.
It is like loading a horse into a trailer. Place some oats in the stall and gently lead the fat loss stallion where it is you want them to go. But try and yank or jerk them into the stall, or worse, push them aggressively from behind and prepare to be horse-kicked into oblivion.
2. Plan your hardest workouts for the weekend before the events
Now, is this a free pass to go buck wild at the buffet since you trained so hard for the evening creating a caloric deficit? No, of course not. Working to earn food is an unhealthy habit to begin with. But, if you know that there will be "slim pickens" at the event and you want to ensure you are set to succeed, it may help to create a proper hormonal setting going into the evening. That way, you encourage certain nutrients to be partitioned in the muscle and liver as opposed to the hips and thighs.
3. Be aware of your poor weekend habits.
This isn't AA. You don't have to stand up in front of your peers and admit that you have a problem. I am only suggesting that you actually use your brain cells on Friday before murdering them with your martini ritual. Sit and actually think about the weekend and what events you have on the schedule.
Which will you have to plan for?
Which will have healthier options?
Which will you be drinking alcohol? (These are the ones that you should probably eat a meal beforehand. This will pack on a little bit more inhibition prior to you losing a bit of willpower after your first few cocktails.)
A little bit of thought and planning goes much further than you think.
Planning healthy options during the week is easy. A routine already exists there. The first step of escaping the death loop of weekend nutrition is to simply plan Saturday how you plan the rest of your week. Once you conquer that, just move into Sunday.
If all you need to do is perform a little thinking and planning on Friday, then what are you waiting for? Get to it!
If you need a little bit of help getting started or need a little bit of assistance digging into a deeper problem, sign up below and let's get started.
“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.”–Chinese Proverb