Most of us work Monday through Friday, whether you’re a student, a white-collar or blue-collar worker, or a stay-at-home mom or dad. The structure that comes during the work week often makes it easier to fit your workout in during that time. With routine, we can become very productive in regard to our workouts. But could all of that hard work be sabotaged by mistakes made on our off days?
- Making Bad Food Choices
On the weekends, there are often events that present some more challenging food options for those of us who are trying to improve our health (or look better naked). Whether it’s a birthday party, a barbecue, a ball game or other weekend events, food is always present and it’s rare that the choices offered are healthy ones. By indulging in these food options, you run the risk of minimizing the benefits of your training, possibly even preventing them all together. It may not seem like that big of deal to have something here and there, but if your body is already fighting to not be dependent on simple sugars and carbohydrates, these foods could set you back in your progress of being more dependent on fat.
Here are some ways to overcome this.
First, eat before you go, and eat a substantial, well-balanced meal of nutrient-packed foods. For a better idea of what foods are nutrient-packed, refer to our “Eat Well, Live Well” manual. If you eat good foods before the event, you will have a much better chance of fighting off the urge of eating foods not good for you. Something I tell my clients is, if you feel obligated to eat something, create a “plate of respect”. This is a plate with very small portions of a few things — so you can still show respect for what your host provided, without going overboard. In some cases, even a tiny portion of a certain food can be too much. Not all food is created equal, which brings me to my second way of overcoming bad food choices.
Second, get to know your body and what foods are most efficient and healthy. We often have underlying issues that hinder progress. Fortunately, we also have assessments to help understand these issues. Some of these assessments have been game-changers for my clients. Check out our entire portfolio of lab tests and assessments. With testing, we can be proactive in getting to the bottom of how to get people feeling their best and achieving their goals. One in particular that helps with learning how your body responds to different foods is our Food Sensitivity Test.
Food sensitivities may take up to 72 hours to show symptoms. Because of this, it makes it very difficult to know what foods are giving a person challenges. By knowing which foods need to be periodically regulated, you can give your body the ability to improve and recover more efficiently while potentially improving gut health. Having this awareness of how your body responds to certain foods gives you the ability to make better choices with evidence to back it up. It’s easier to say no to something when there is proof that it is, in fact, a bad choice.
- Missing Out on Recovery
One piece of the puzzle that often gets neglected is recovery. We get excited about the workouts. The adrenaline gets pumping, and we want more and more. The challenge comes with giving our bodies the necessary recovery time it desperately needs. Weekends can often be that for many of us. If we don’t take the time to slow down and recharge, we lessen our ability to make positive changes while risking overtraining. We give a lot of time and energy in the workouts, but if recovery is overlooked, you may be causing more harm than good.
There are two systems in our body that are involved in improving our health through exercise, the sympathetic and parasympathetic system. The sympathetic system, which is our “flight or fight” system, is triggered when we respond to high stress. During weight training and other forms of exercise that causes your body to be in an anaerobic state, the sympathetic system is used. During this time people tend to have more shallow, chest breathing, adrenaline is increased, muscles tense, heart rates increase and cortisol (our stress hormone) levels increase.
Our parasympathetic system helps our bodies restore and recover. When the parasympathetic system is utilized, our breathing is deep and diaphragmatic. This system can be involved during rest, low intensity, aerobic exercise and digestion. This system is vital to ensure improvement. We have to recover and restore so we can reap the benefits of our hard work. The parasympathetic system cannot be overlooked.
On the weekend, along with getting quality sleep, you can do things that put you in a recovering place, such as getting a massage, reading, taking a walk or hike, playing a musical instrument or any other hobby that helps you handle stress. Recovery can be active, like a bike ride, as long is it’s low intensity, giving your body that chance to recover. If our weekends are loaded with events and obligations that make us just as stressed as our weeks, we may miss out on feeling better and improving from the workout regimen that we upheld through the weekdays.
- Failing to Plan
I’m sure we’ve all heard, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” The weekends are not an exception. In order to stay on track with our fitness goals, planning needs to be involved. We can be victims to our circumstances because of our lack of preparation. We often make bad choices because we’ve left ourselves in desperate situations where there are not healthy options. These are the situations that leave us going in the wrong direction for our goals. If we know the agenda of the upcoming weekend, we can make the appropriate planning to succeed. With both food and recovery, planning ahead can keep you on track. If you think ahead about the events of your entire week (including the weekend), you can plan your both food and training.
Weekends are great opportunities to get out and spend time with family and friends or catch up on projects. Whatever your weekend activities, you don’t have to compromise your fitness goals while enjoying them. It just takes making your fitness a high priority through your entire week. You’ll wind up enjoying your weekends more if you’re looking and feeling your best.