It’s day 5, it’s Friday and it’s the weekend!
Weekends can end up striking fear into the hearts of people who are trying to lose fat.
It can seem like the time when all the work from the week is undone with social events, BBQs, family dinners, meals out and takeaways.
But it doesn’t have to derail you. You can enjoy yourself whilst still making progress towards your goals.
Did you know that you don’t have to be perfect?
You can actually be far from perfect and still lose fat, gain strength and build muscle.
An acceptable ratio of on track to off track is about 80:20.
If you manage this, you’ll do well. If you can do better than that, 90:10 or 95:5, you’ll do extremely well.
So don’t stress when you’re invited out for lunch, your spouse wants to order in dinner or your kid wants you to have one of the cookies they made.
You can try to plan ahead and fit these things into your daily calories whilst still hitting your protein target. It’s possible. You might have to “save up” a few extra calories, but you can certainly do it. I recommend doing this if you can.
But, sometimes you can’t. Sometimes you know you’re going over your calories and there’s not much you can do about it. On days like this, I like to remind myself that they are not the norm and remember the 80:20 rule (although I try to do better than 80:20 if I can).
I’m not getting takeouts every day, buying my lunch from McDonalds and ending every evening with a tub of ice cream, so on the rare occasions that I do do something like that, I don’t bother trying to account for it. I just do it, enjoy the treat, and get right back on track.
Instead of having to study restaurant menus ahead of time, you can just order off the menu when you’re sitting there based on how appetising it sounds!
Instead of going to a friend’s or family BBQ and skipping the bun on your burger, the pasta salad or the desserts, You can just eat and enjoy it. It’s a rarity, so why worry?
If you’re on plan 80-90% of the time, then days like this won’t prevent you from reaching your goal.
Don’t Make An OK Situation a Bad One
You can’t track anything, so you might as well let it all go to crap and eat what you want. You’ve worked hard for it, right? You deserve this. The diet’s already ruined, might as well keep going.
Do you see how easy it is to justify these kind of actions to yourself? That’s the kind of trap we want to avoid getting into.
You can have a day that doesn’t move you forward as much as the others in the week. Maybe you spend that day in a smaller deficit (in which case it’s still progress) at maintenance, or in a small surplus.
What you need to remember is that individual days are not what make the difference. What makes the difference is your average over a long time. So if you zoom out a bit, and look at your diet in the context of a week, what is your average calorie deficit for the week?
If you spend Saturday at maintenance, in a smaller calorie deficit, or in a small calorie surplus, that is still going to be a decent average overall for the week. The fact that Saturday isn’t perfect doesn’t actually really matter.
What WILL matter is if you get off on the wrong foot on Saturday, and then justify a whole weekend of eating dreadfully, going way over your calories because “f*ck it, the diet’s already ruined” and going through the weekend with an “I’ll start again on Monday” mindset. If you’ve spent Monday-Friday averaging in a 500 calorie deficit, you’ve built up 2,500 calories of deficit so far. It’s quite easy to turn that around in 2 days and completely wipe it out.
You go from a situation where you were on course to lose a pound of fat, to one where you worked hard for 5 days, only to completely undo everything in 2 days.
Need Another Strategy to Manage Days Like This?
Sometimes you just have a string of events, or your work involves a lot of entertaining, or you’re going through a rough patch. It can be hard to stick to the 80:20 rule in these situations. If this is the case, you can adopt a different approach:
If you overeat by 500 calories one day, you can balance it out by undereating your target by 500 calories the next day. I find the easiest way to do this is to skip breakfast.
Make it an OMAD or 2MAD day when you have a social event
I do this sometimes when it’s a family BBQ (they pull out all the stops and I can’t resist). OMAD stands for One Meal A Day. I’ll let you guess what 2MAD stands for, When I know there’s a big “treat” meal coming up, sometimes I will fast until the event by not eating breakfast and/or lunch, or fast after the event and not eat dinner. This reduces the overall calories consumed on that day. It might not be enough to make up for how much I eat at the event, but it at least reduces the impact by lowering the total calorie intake on that day.
Try to estimate calories
This can be difficult, especially if you have no knoweldge around how the food was prepared or what specific foods and quantities there were. Nonetheless, you can still estimate and get some idea of what you might have eaten, which can help with your choices the rest of the day or the next day. If you’ve been tracking for a while, you may have gotten quite good at estimating. In that case, estimate calories on the high side (round up to nearest 250) and estimate protein on the low side.
Look at restaurant menus in advance and try to pick high protein dishes without sauces. Steak plus veg is a good one because you can track the weight of the steak, it’s high protein and filling, and you can just get sides of veg which you don’t really need to worry too much about the calories of.
Control where you can
If you find life throws you a lot of curveballs, then don’t add to it yourself. Stay on plan at home. Throw tempting foods out of the house. Batch cook good protein:calorie meals and keep one frozen so you always have a meal ready when you don’t feel like cooking. Having these meals in the fridge will help keep you on track too, as you won’t want to end up wasting your money and time if you have to throw them out. Planning your meals ahead of time (like the day before) and entering them into myfitnesspal can help, as you may feel an obligation to stick to the plan.
Here Are Your Actions for Today
- Have a look back at your ratio so far of on track to off track. We’re on day 5, so it’s easy to work out what your percentage is.
- If you’ve been on track every day so far, you could potentially have a treat today/tonight and remain on track in the big picture. I’m not talking about an epic binge, but something that doesn’t really fit the plan. Takeout. Dessert. Going over on your calories slightly.
- The key thing is whether you can keep it sensible and then get back on track immediately or not. If you think you’d be better served by continuing to abstain, then do that. If you think a small reward might keep you going, plan to have one.
This is fun right? I don’t tell my clients they’re only allowed to eat steamed cod and green beans.
If you’re letting yourself have a little treat today, let us all see in the Facebook group!
Talk again tomorrow!