Take a second to think back to when you first decided to take the plunge into the world of fitness. Everyone around you was hitting the gym and ditching the takeaways, so you decided that you too were ready get your ass into gear! So you head into Penny’s and buy yourself some fab neon gym gear, and off you go! Back then, you had set out with the intention of becoming the healthiest, happiest version of yourself! And somehow today, you find yourself eating more s**t in the evenings and weekends than you did before you started. Your quest for health has led you into this never ending cycle of eating ‘super healthy’ all week, and binging out all weekend. Your quest for physical health - has led to a deterioration of your mental health! Sound familiar? Well then this article might just be what you need, to help turn things back around.
As a personal trainer and lifestyle coach, I speak to girls every day in the gym or online, who voice these concerns saying ‘I'm actually soooo healthy, but for some reason I can’t stay on track on the weekends’, ‘‘ever since I’ve become healthier, I find myself binging out and now have a terrible relationship with food’. ‘I thought fitness would make me happier, but i’m stressed, anxious, and unhappy’. You would be surprised just how many people face these problems, so believe me, you are not alone. And I know exactly how it feels, as I too have been sucked into the horrible cycle of restriction, guilt & binging! But it no longer controls me. Why? - Well, I took the time to understand it, understand what caused it, and understand what steps were needed to take to prevent it! As with any quest for improvement, comes pressure and a possibility of failure - so it's how we deal with these failures that will determine our happiness & success.
Most people start their fitness journey with SO little knowledge of nutrition, training, hormones, or how the body works, etc. They jump in all guns blazing, and usually go about things the wrong way. So, as someone who has studied nutrition, hormones, and this topic in detail, I’m here to give you my two cents.
So, how did we get here?
We start out with the intention of looking & feeling better and as we begin to lose the initial weight, we are so happy to see that our hard work is paying off! To do this we cut down our calories and start moving more - and viola..bye bye love handles!
But of course, as soon as we ‘relax’ or go back to eating ‘normally’, back they come, and the cycle begins.
‘Last time I lost weight, I ate less and moved more - so i'll just do that again’. The addiction to losing weight grows, as do the negative feelings towards gaining weight.
This new desire to constantly look a certain way, and the pressure we put on ourselves to ‘get back to our goal weight’ causes an unhealthy relationship with fitness.
So how can we prevent binges?
1. Don’t Eliminate - Replace.
Yes - eating less will make you lose weight, but what's the point, if we just put it all back on and usually more? Stop eating less, just eat better! (and more!!)
When you cut back on processed foods, excess carbs, sugary snacks - make sure to replace it with lots of veg, protein and fiber. By eating more low calorie, highly nutritious foods such as vegetables, protein, whole grains etc, your body will feel satisfied, fuller and will stop you craving bad foods. The high nutrient content in these foods will promote healthy hormone production - which will de-stress your body, give you more energy and allow your body to work optimally. This allows you to start burning fat from stubborn areas you haven't been able to shift for years!
Eat MORE - and you will lose more weight than eating less - a very hard concept for us girls to grasp, and it takes practice, but trust me, not only does it work - but it is the most enjoyable way to reach your goals - it stops binge eating and gets you out of this stressful cycle!
2. Eat Your Biggest Meals First!
We have so much more determination & willpower early in the day than in the evening, and naturally us women use our this willpower to eat less. Admit it, you're proud when you see it’s already 4pm and all you have had is your small breakfast! – We're all guilty of it! But it is this behaviour that makes it almost impossible to stay away from all those tasty carbs in the evening. What you eat in the morning and afternoon will determine how your evening goes. Have a BIG healthy breakfast & lunch and your body will thank you for giving it all the nutrients it needs. You will have more energy for the day - and whatever you eat in the evening will satisfy you, which reduces cravings/binges and you will in turn eat less overall throughout the day.
3. Think Ahead
To help so many of my clients that are going through this battle, I try help them understand the importance of thinking ahead. To prevent a weekend binge, preparation must start on a Monday, not Thursday/Friday.
Prepare meals so that when you're tired and lazy, you don't reach for something ‘easy’ and unhealthy
Make a conscious effort to eat more Monday - Friday, so that the need to over-eat on the weekend reduces. (this is probably the biggest cause of failure)
Allow yourself treats during the week - so that the need to eat them on the weekend decreases - Admit it - how many times have you ordered dessert after dinner on friday - even though you're not hungry - ‘ah sure it’s the weekend’ ‘I've been so clean all week’ so you have to - after all, it’s monday again soon! - By having treats during the week, you eat them when you feel like it, not only on the weekend.
Make healthy eating something you do 80-90% of the time 7 days a week, instead of 100% all week - and failure every weekend.
Think of the week as 7 days, instead of 5 days and a weekend!
Think ahead on a daily basis. Don’t let yourself go hungry all day! Eat big meals early on.
4. Be Patient
Stop trying to get results overnight. Obviously the less you eat the quicker you will get results, and going about it the right way will take a little longer to get to your goal. But do you want to get to your goal for one week? Or forever? In 6 months time do you want to still be sitting in the same position as you are now? Having lost loads of weight each week and put it back on, over and over, while spending every day stressed and anxious? Or would you rather have taken it slow, lost it in a really enjoyable stress free way, and be planning the next 6 months, and how much more you can achieve? Think about it.
And my final point, and probably the most important one - is to breathe.
You don’t wake up one day with an unhealthy r