Happy Thanksgiving to my American friends today, I’m thankful for my loving wife and kids who support me everyday.
It’s that time of year in general plenty of eating and drinking going on, not just in America but everywhere. We have office Christmas parties, reunions, Thanksgivings, religious festivals etc; all big important events with plenty of food and drink. **Danger Danger Danger Will Robinson** Unfortunately these splurges play havoc with training preparations and your health and we’ve all done it, yup me included, I’ve over done it at these things and we’ve all felt pretty rubbish the next day and the next day and the next day. You can have more than your daily caloric intake at these meals. So what are the options, well lets takes exercise first. On the morning of these big splurges get some high intensity cardio going. There are loads of options from running, cycling, studio classes or home workouts (I’m glaring at you Shaun T workouts) but its important to get the heart, lungs and legs going and begin a burn off. Trust me this will be a great way to start your day and feel pumped for the day ahead. Next is food, about a few hours before the big meal have a smaller meal, eggs and veggies for example. But hey you are saying you will ruin your appetite for the big meal – exactly the point. You won’t eat as much turkey, stuffing or creamed potatoes but you will have eaten some good source of protein, carb and fat before hand. If you happen to be eating out as the server if you could have the veggies without the butter on top, or some brown rice or not to have the greasy option or just go vegan for the meal. You entice them with a tip at the end. Additionally you may want to just consume smaller quantities of the food on offer. I am no fan of these low fat options about, I’d much rather take a quarter serving of the regular full fat option than a full serving of the low fat option. Why? because the low fat options are typically further processed and have many more unpronounceable words in them including sugar. Drinking well, I’m no fan of drinking, I used to drink but stopped about 7 years ago as I hated the feeling next day. Life is short enough without wasting a day or 2 or 3 being hungover. If you are going to drink please take a 10 ounce glass of water between each drink – you’ll drink less, feel better hydrated and hopefully not have a dire hangover the next day.
All of this brings me on to cheat meals throughout the year. When I first started bodybuilding and serious training a had a cheat meal once a week – yup Saturday/Sunday night chinese or pizza it was my reward for a tough weeks work. This was fine at the start with huge gains but as time went on fat started to appear. Why because the huge caloric and macro nutrient content of the cheat meal was being turned to fat and wrecking my weekly progress. So I started to eat differently rather than eat religious healthy 100% for 6 days of the week and binge on one day I took an 80-20 and 90-10 rule each day. For 80% or 90% of the day I eat very clean and the remaining 20% or 10% I have little cheats the odd kit kat, gluten free cookie, 90% cocoa chocolate etc. My health improved dramatically over time with this rule. I still do have the odd cheat meal its never weekly or monthly more often every 6-8 weeks, why? Because we need to fire up our metabolism from time to time, it adds variety and keeps the body guessing. If you are preparing for a competition it will be different and tailored to your body. This is only the system that continues to work for me. You may be much different. My most recent cheat meal was at Belfast Christmas Market with a yummy venison burger, yeah it was fatty but hey it tasted good and haven’t splurged like that since September. I didn’t take any waffles, mulled wine, mince pies or treats so I was pretty happy with that.
One of my favourite cheats are Quest Bars. Yum yum yummy, anyone who has tasted their cookies and cream or choc brownie knows what I am talking about. In my opinion the cleanest cheat snack around today – they’ve even come up with crisps but I haven’t tried these. I always keep a box on hand. Great for out and about on the road, offices etc. They are expensive but really nothing else comes close.
Finally be careful of binges but also of cutting out cheats, especially sugary ones from your nutrition. I recently saw a fitness group doing a No Sugar November. This turns into a Donut December. The splurge happens in December when you think you can have some sugary foods and you just eat and eat. Its not good and its something I always go back to – keep everything in moderation. Have the odd donut a week, not every day, or chocolate bar a week. I’ve a sweet tooth for chocolate I find a 90% chocolate slice a day keeps this at bay or if you can find it a chocolate protein shake that tastes nice.
But guess what if you don’t heed any of this opinion thats fine to, take it as a learning experience and move on. If you do binge at an event take it as restart and redouble your efforts the next day, we all fall down and fail at times but we need to move on and not get bogged down in them. Don’t keep beating yourself up everyday about them, problems really appear very quickly if you are binging daily or weekly.
Keep it balanced
Yours in fitness & health