Eat for your health, even on weekends

Jamaica Observer:  

You have come to the realisation that the extra body fat is beginning to affect your functionality and you understand the current threat it poses to your well-being.

So you have cleaned up your eating, no more unhealthy processed foods or fast foods, you are doing great and your future is looking bright. But, from week to week you are not losing the extra fat as you thought you would. Every day before work you have planned everything precisely, you are obeying the plan and you are even fighting the old night-time snacking urges. On the weekends, you have a couple drinks to socialise or unwind, or perhaps you have decided to eat with your family, after all, family time is important. Maybe you need to sleep later or give yourself a break from the intensity of a routine, so you are not preparing your meals or you are treating yourself after a hard, stressful week. That cannot be the problem, can it?

Yes, it absolutely can! Weekend fluctuations are normal, but left unmanaged, will undermine your wellness goals.

How does weekend eating destroy your wellness efforts?

So just how counter-productive is loosening up a little on the weekends? Let’s look at some average numbers:

• Daily calories needed to maintain fat levels: 2,300

• Calories leading for weight loss and ingested Monday to Thursday: 1,800

• Approximate fat weight loss during each Monday to Thursday cycle: 0.6lbs, that is 2,000 calories worth (500 daily caloric deficit x four days).

Wonderful, you did very well. You are losing 2.4 pounds per month; that’s a safe, healthy fat loss. In a year you will be about 30 pounds lighter. If you have enough excess fat to lose, you can drop as much as 90 pounds in just three years if you are consistent, and that is probably a lot quicker than it took to put it on.

But wait, what about the weekend? Did you keep up that pace and lose even more? After all, it’s three days more (Friday-Sunday) to make the most of, or did you stay steady?

Sadly no, you chose to loosen up on the weekend, right? Needed to hang with your friends and drink just a little, needed to unwind, reward or comfort yourself, take a break from the planning or just enjoy eating time with your family.

So, what is your reality now?

If you still ingest your basic bodyweight, dropping 1,800 calories but add the following over the three days:

• Two alcoholic drinks per day or “juices”: 1,326 calories of carbohydrates and sugars, all promoting fat retention;

• Just one slice of pizza and one cup of water, after all, you are being health conscious: 300 calories.

You are now at your daily caloric needs to maintain your weight over the the weekend days, you would still be losing your 0.6 pounds per week, if you stuck to your eating plan, but:

• Not feeling to plan and prepare on the weekend, needing a little comfort eating or quality family dinner/friends time: 3,000 calories in “normal” choices over the entire weekend.

Now, instead of losing 2.4 pounds per month, you will be gaining almost a pound per month, just from weekend eating, 12 pounds heavier in a year, even with all your well-planned efforts every Monday to Thursday.

Solutions

Most importantly, you cannot look at weight loss, as weight loss. You must realise that you have been on a path to a body which is showing you how unhealthy you are going to be; on a path which every measure has shown will result in some combination of pain, disability or disease. You have already taken the first steps to identify the issue and make the effort to make your life better.

Take the final steps and try these simple guides to get and keep your weekends on the healthy track:

• Embrace the mindset of a truly healthy individual; embrace the foods which make you stronger and feel better all your life.

• As much as possible, avoid the habits and foods which may make you feel good for a short time, but which will damage you deeply.

• Understand that reactive eating is a bad sign, poor eating habits will never be the solution. Separate food from your issues and try to figure out what is the root cause of your real issues and seek out real solutions.

• Plan ahead. Yes, every day, everywhere, if you are with a system such as ITK Wave. Follow your plans and prepare as always. Speak with your coaches regarding any options, they’ll understand that you may not be able to be 100 per cent all the time, but will help you to be as close as possible.

• Do not skip meals.

• Seriously limit your alcohol intake, it increases your caloric, sugar and carbohydrate intake, encourages fat storage, and lowers inhibitions and self-control.

• Remember, the week may have been rough but splurging will make your life rougher. Try active relaxation, add something to your life other than food.

• Remember that overeating or drinking does not have to go together with entertaining; planning is key, research your options.

• If you decide, or your coach suggests a higher calorie meal, don’t turn it into a cheat day.

• Do not overeat at restaurants; call ahead or look online for their menu and decide ahead of time what you are having. Stick to the guidelines of your chosen diet, and feel free to leave some for later.

• If you do go off your wellness track, don’t overcompensate, go crazy or give up after. It can happen, but the only real problem is completely losing your wellness mindset.

Don’t allow weekend eating to destroy your health efforts any longer, not to mention destroy your gut bacteria, immune system, emotions, willpower (by boosting cravings), and causing inflammation and tiredness.

You have it in you to take control; find balance for those who love you and most importantly for yourself. Every day of the week eat as if you deserve to be living healthily.

Fitz-George Rattray is the director of Intekai Academy, which is focused on helping people live a healthy lifestyle through nutrition and weight management. If you are interested in losing weight or living a healthier lifestyle, give them a call at 968-8238, or visit their website at intekaiacademy.org