You may have read this stat before: the six weeks between Thanksgiving and New Year’s account for about half of the average American’s yearly weight gain. The NIH estimates that the weight gained in that time frame is between 0.8-1.4 lbs. That might not seem like a big number if you or someone you know has ever wondered why they weigh 10 lbs more now than 10 years ago, wonder no more. Feeling entitled to indulge at multiple holiday gatherings and then saying you’re too busy to go to the gym is how that happens. But it doesn’t have to. Here’s a little story to illustrate the point.
Meredith and I decided to do the Advocare 10-day cleanse together at the beginning of November. Meredith thought this would be an ideal time because there wasn’t going to be much going on (no rehearsals, no parties, etc.). This would be a time that she could be completely in control.
Of course, ask any mother of a toddler and you learn that as much as you’d like everything to be in your control, it’s not. A few days into the cleanse, Meredith felt frustrated with the whole thing and said, “I thought this was going to be the best time to do this cleanse but I’m stressed out with the baby and everything else going on.” And here’s the thing, y’all: THERE WILL NEVER BE A BEST TIME TO MAKE A LIFESTYLE CHANGE. Life will ALWAYS get in the way. As Meredith would soon learn, when it comes to managing weight loss with a hectic lifestyle, planning ahead is the biggest tool you’ll need in your weight management toolbox.
There’s a rule of thumb when it comes to weight loss that says you should stay on track 90% of the week so that you can enjoy treats 10% of the week. The idea is that this will keep you from feeling deprived. But if you don’t plan ahead for that 10%, it can EASILY become 50% without you even noticing.
After Meredith got over the initial hump of “this cleanse is freaking hard”, she amazed me by how much she stuck to it by planning ahead. Here are a few things she did that you can do to stay on track (YES, even during the busy holiday season!):
When you are in the comfort of your own environment:
THEN, PLAN FOR YOUR 10%!! Here’s an example of how to do it:
Meredith ended up hosting a huge BBQ for friends a week into our cleanse. It would have been so easy for her to give in and eat burgers, hot dogs, chips and drink tons of beer but she didn’t. She made some cleanse-friendly food for the party in addition to the BBQ. Then she decided ahead of time exactly how much she was going to drink. Instead of hosting this party and letting herself be a victim of decadence, losing track of how much she was eating and drinking (because let’s face it, it’s so easy to lose track), Meredith gave herself the power to make smart decisions so she could enjoy her indulgences guilt-free. And here’s the beauty of all of this: Meredith had something to look forward to as she was planning ahead so it made staying on track during the week easier.
So what if you’re NOT in the comforts of your own home? In addition to the tips I gave you last year, here are some ideas to help you out:
The number one thing you can do to totally help you out for the rest of the holiday season in conjunction with watching what you eat and drink: BE ACTIVE! It’s too easy to let the stresses of the holidays overwhelm you and keep you from getting it done. We are ALL overscheduled and crazy busy but if Meredith can make the time to work out 4-5 times every week AND meal plan ahead of time, YOU CAN, TOO! It can be as easy as taking some walks, going for a jog or hitting the gym. If you’re out of town and looking for a gym, check out this site!
Friends: the easiest pound to lose is the one you never gained in the first place. Try out these ideas to stave off those holiday pounds.
SO: What did all of that hard work get Meredith theses last 6 weeks? 6 MORE POUNDS OFF HER BODY! WOOOOOOHOOOOOOO!
Happy start to the holiday season, everyone!!
When we approach something new, some of us get SUPER excited/eager/impatient about the journey that we want to do EVERYTHING we can RIGHT NOW to get to the good part. Patience is a virtue and some of us (like myself) just don't have it. So, appropriately, I'm going to skip ahead and tell you the moral of the story:
When we do asmuchaswecanrightnow, we b u r n o u t.
This brings me to Meredith's first five weeks of training. As long as I've known Meredith (going on 13 years), she's been someone who gives 1000% to her projects. It's not a stretch, then, to understand that she is 1000% dedicated to getting back into shape now. Which is great. Until it's not.
I'm speaking for everyone alive here when I say we have days when we can crank up the volume to 11, days we can't get out of bed and many days in between. The trouble, my friends, is when we expect ourselves to perform exactly the same way day in, day out, whether we feel awesome or just plain awful. Some days, Meredith is full of energy, in a great mood and her workouts are supercharged. Other days, after she hasn't gotten quality sleep, is feeling an incredible amount of stress or feels like she's coming down with something, she STILL feels like she should perform the same way as when she feels like the mom from The Incredibles.
READ AND REPEAT: it is OK -- encouraged, even -- for our energy to undulate. That's how we humans are built to work. Because we are not robots.
The greatest gift we can give ourselves when we work out is that of self awareness. If working out full force feels like it's going to knock you out for the rest of the day, scale back the exercise choices and knock the intensity down a notch, otherwise you're compromising your system and probably preventing your body from making the changes you want it to make. While Meredith yells at me in protest when I do this for her, saying I'm letting her "off the hook", I'm really just doing her a huge favor. She's still getting a great workout and her body will be better able to recover. And here's the secret: change happens in recovery from a workout, not during the workout itself.
While Meredith understands that lasting results come at a steady pace and we need to take it step by step and alter the plan from time to time, it doesn't take away the anxiety of: WHAT IF IT DOESN'T WORK? which is a very real, valid and natural concern. And while you're waiting for the physical evidence to prove that the occasional "slower day" is OK, you just have to trust the process.
Life is full of stressors and things you can't control. The only thing you CAN control is knowing you did the best you could that day to get you toward your goal, no excuses. Sometimes the best means taking it a little slower so you don't burn out.
Ok, week 5 measurement results time. I usually take measurements every 6 weeks but since Meredith went to San Antonio for 10 days we took them early. Drum roll please...
As of October 4 (I know, I'm really late with this post), Meredith:
Lost 5.62 lbs of fat (averaging about 1 lb per week) and
Gained 4.02 lbs of lean muscle that will help her burn even more calories!
[Enter thunderous applause here, she kicked butt!]
So keep tuning in for more updates and tips and, as always, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if there's anything you'd like to see covered as I blog about Meredith's journey!