At the moment I am planning for our wedding.
Now most of you will think this is a wonderful thing (which it is) it has left me in a bit of a pickle. You see, for the last two years I have been focused on peaking at specified dates so that I can look my best for the physique shows I've competed in. Sure, I've had off seasons, but I've always been thinking about that next competition date, which has kept me focused.
Right now I don't have a date I'm working towards, and instead am following a more 'normal' lifestyle plan. Honestly I find this more of a challenge which may sound strange to most.
During physique competition prep you do what your plan says. Period. Day in, day out you stick to your macros and you stick to each training scheduled. It's game set and match. You want / need to look your best. Personally, overindulging during your prep just isn't an option as your mindset should be fully on the stage. (If your food choices are varied balanced and colourful you shouldn't feel the need to)
So you see without that competition date in mind I can have that bar of chocolate if I like, or an occasional pastry with my coffee, as the end goal is not to be stage lean but rather how good I feel.
The challenge has been this: with a more relaxed approach, I've found it's far too easy to slip into the 'I can have an extra serving, it's not like I'm stepping on stage' mentality. Which is fine, and absolutely should happen if you can fit these treats loosely into your macros. You can always swap things around a little more and be even more flexible (when in competition prep i still eat flexibly, I just stick to food types and portions that suit my body)
For a few weeks now as I plan for my wedding I've struggled to stick to my macros.
The challenge has been that I've wanted to join in with the socialising and enjoy the food everyone was eating which often included birthday cake etc. Which again is fine as I'm on track and I am fitting this into my lifestyle.
However. That one BBQ, leads to another birthday party and then yet another celebration for something else etc etc, the list goes on.
Last week I had 3 high calorie days when I should have only been having medium and low calorie days.
Do I feel bad? Yes because I didn't stick to plan. Do I feel good? No because I feel bloated and heavy. Did I feel bad after the first time I went over my macros? No actually I felt OK. If anything good actually, cut some cravings and had a strong gym session the next day.
What I'm trying to say here is that after 1 day off plan I felt good, after the second, I felt disappointed. By the third time i felt lousy.
On top of this the more chocolate cake I ate, or glass of prosecco I drank made me want more. Like I lost control. Not because the second piece / glass tasted better than the first but because I got greedy.
From this point it's far too easy to feel guilty and sink into one of two traps:
1. The feeling of guilt sets in and you try and compensate by overtraining or under eating for the following days.
2. You feel so down about things that you continue to reach for that chocolate bar or that extra serving of pasta. Before you know it you're either so hungry that you are tempted to overindulge once again or you've become way off track and made the struggle back that bit harder.
Now understanding the problem is one thing, but here at HLL it's important that we help you understand how to overcome them. So here are some considerations that in my experience can really help when you've had a little slip:
1. Don't stress about it or beat yourself up. It's done and in one step off plan you just take one step back.
2. Don't let one slip turn into a fall, it's much harder to get yourself back up.
3. Think about how you'll feel afterwards and focus on that feeling.
4. Remember why you started the plan in the first place and what you're trying to achieve.
5. See how far you've come and look at old body shots to realise how you've changed.
6. Understand that it's ok to indulge, nut binging is another issue altogether..
7. Wake up the next day, have a nice steady walk if you can, and plan the rest of your week ahead.
The way we handle these hiccups can be the difference between the long term success that we all crave, or the yo yo weight gain and loss all too common in the modern world. So gain an understanding as to the potential pitfalls at the begging, plan for them, and when they inevitably happen don't stress, just take back control and focus on the long game.
After all bodies are with you for life, so time really isnt an issue.