The average person lives off routine. The week starts on a Monday morning after an action-packed weekend, and you step on the scale only to see you have lost all the progress you made since weighing in on Friday. This sparks a fire! You cook yourself up a healthy breakfast, workout every day that week, and then finally, once its Friday, you are back down in weight. That night your friends ask you to go out for some drinks. On Saturday, family comes in and you all go out for supper, and on Sunday you spend all day relaxing around the house with your only movements being moving from one end of the couch to the other. The next thing you know it’s Monday morning and you step on the scale only to see you have gained the weight back that you lost last week.
So, what is going on that people can do so well during the week, only to lose it during the weekend? This is the thing, with only 4.5 days (Friday is half a day in my opinion) during the week, and 2.5 days on a weekend, what you do during those 2.5 days can easily outweigh the progress made during the week. What most people don’t realize is just how much energy it takes to shed fat, and how little food it can take to gain it all back. The average person is educated enough that they could easily tell you that in order to lose weight you need to work out more and eat less. This, however, is very general and doesn’t have enough basis to actually be an effective strategy. The real numbers behind this theory is that there are 3500 calories in one pound of fat, and therefore, in one week one must burn 3500 calories more than they take in in order to burn off one pound of fat.
People come in different shapes and sizes, and therefore everyone’s body burns a different number of calories at rest. This number is called a Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) which is the number of calories you burn if doing nothing but resting for 24 hours. A person with a BMR of 1800 calories, for example, must expend 500 more calories per day than they intake in order to lose 1 pound of fat per week. So, if on the weekdays they do this by cleaning up their diet to 1800 calories per day, and then exercise to burn off an extra 500 calories, they will find themselves in a 500-calorie deficit. If they continue this throughout the week, by Friday morning they are well on track having acquired a 2000 calorie deficit! Now the weekend hits… They stop exercising, and they start eating more food. Not a good combination for reaching their weight loss goals.
What most people don’t realize however, is just how calorie packed some “cheat meals” can be. Did you know that an order of large fries from that fast food chain contain upwards to 600 calories? Or that sweet pint of cider you’ve been waiting for all day contains 580 calories? How about those breaded wings? Most breaded wings total 100 calories each, and we all know how easy it is to put down a half-dozen of those. By following this “cheat meal” strategy, you’ve now taken in an excess of 1000 calories each day of the weekend, completely cancelling out your 2000 calorie deficit you had going into it. You can now see how easy it is to stop your progress dead in its tracks on the weekend!
Overall, my point is that no matter how disciplined you are during the week, if you intake too many calories on the weekend, all weight loss progress is lost. And what is easier? Eating a side of fries? Or working out for an hour straight? Although this may not seem fair whatsoever, that is life, and this is what we must deal with in order to lose weight. So, what are some ways to keep us on track? Below is a list that I like to follow:
- When you are in control of your diet and exercise, DO IT. There will be times when you won’t be in control, and you will be wishing you had been more disciplined when you had control.
- If you are going to drink alcohol, stick with hard liquor and soda water. Avoid all the unnecessary calories and sugars that are found in mixes.
- Look at the calories in junk food and think of how many minutes or hours it would take to burn it off on a treadmill. Sometimes this awareness is all that you need in order to put that food back down. Don’t buy junk food for your house for you to snack on. If it isn’t in the house, you can’t eat it!
- Eat before you go out to restaurants. If you have time to eat before, this will save you from ordering those high fat/sugar resultant foods that are needed to make their food taste so good.
- Cut your cheat meal portion sizes. Although this isn’t a great strategy for those who “Can’t have just one”, if you can have just one, do it. Don’t order your own fries and steal 4 or 5 from a friend instead.
- Have an accountability partner. It is always easier to do these things with someone else, especially if you are in the same social group. You can stick together on those nights out where you will be likely be pressured into bad habits by your other friends.
- Eat vegetables. Look up vegetables that are low calorie such as cucumbers and celery and eat as many of these are you want. This will help curb your appetite, give you proper nutrients, and not break the bank!
By Kurtis Cullen