A few weeks ago I got an email from a reader and it went a little something like this.
I’ve been pretty consistent with my nutrition and “training” during the week for the past 4 weeks, but when the weekend comes around we (family) typically spend it on the road. We have 6 kids, 5 adult kids in their early 20’s and none of them live in the same city. We traveled all day yesterday visiting 2 of our kids and spent today moving another kid to Detroit. We have eaten out 5 times this weekend. The biggest challenge I have is committing to waking up early to accomplish a workout instead of getting some much needed extra sleep on a weekend.
I sent her a quick reply but after doing so I realized that you might have the same struggle. So, today I want to go a little more in-depth about how you can stay more consistent with your training and nutrition over the weekends.
Some of what is written might piss you off, some of it might make you nod your head in agreement, and other parts of it may make your face look like this.
The Two Weekend Camps
Most people reside in one of two camps when it comes to the weekends.
Let’s call camp one, “Blue Triangle Wannarelax Fun Time Camp.”
Camp Wannarelax Fun Time Camp views weekends as an escape. A time to relax, unwind, and a chance to let go and that means weekends equal freedom. Freedom from the strict diet you’re trying to follow, freedom from the training program you’re doing, and freedom from work, stress, and anything else really.
Campers here feel like if they’ve been good all week they “deserve” a break. They’ve earned it for having to put up with shit all week at work, for depriving themselves of a certain food, and for killing themselves in the gym all week long.
Camp two is known as “Camp Perfection.” I couldn’t think of anything creative. My apologies.
Camp perfection believes there is no such thing as the weekend. No time to relax, no excuses, no wiggle room. Diet, training, and other routines all stay the same.
Folks in this camp feel guilty when they don’t do the things they said or planned they were going to do. Often beating themselves up for it and in response trying to be stricter by setting more training and nutrition rules, and trying to rely on more willpower.
When these campers screw up their answer might be to train harder or eat less during the week. This often leads to bigger blowouts during the weekend because of severe restriction and deprivation during the week.
I use to flip flop between these two camps. I couldn’t decide which frickin one I wanted to be a part of.
Regardless of what camp you’re in here are a few strategies that can help you stay on top of your health, fitness, and life over the weekends.
Define What A Successful Weekend Looks Like For You
Try and keep this list short, simple, and sweet. I don’t really know what sweet means in this case but it sounded really nice so let’s just go with it.
Here’s my really shortlist of a successful weekend:
Priority #1: Spending time and connecting with people that are important to me.
One of my favorite things to do in this world is to have a meaningful conversation with someone. I try to make it a point each weekend to connect with someone over coffee, on a hike, on the phone, or doing some other activity together like taking a cooking class.
Priority #2: Making the best food choices I can in whatever situation I am in.
In the email above she mentioned she had to eat out 5 times over the weekend. I get the impression that she views this as a bad thing.
Eating out isn’t really a big issue and I’m not sure why it’s often viewed that way. Maybe it’s because you’re trying to follow a specific diet plan that involves foods you’re allowed to eat and not allowed to eat. For the majority of us and our goals following the perfect diet isn’t really necessary to have a body that we’re proud of.
Over the weekends I do my best to include a 1-2 palm-sized serving of protein, 1-2 fist-sized serving of vegetables, and 1-2 thumb-sized servings of healthy fat with each meal. I stick to mostly zero-calorie beverages with the occasional glass of wine.
I don’t try to eat 5 to 6 meals a day. If I only eat 1 to 2 then so be it. If I’m at a pizza joint and can’t get a salad with some protein on it then I just eat 1 slice of pizza instead of 3 or 4. I just do the best that I can in whatever situation that I’m in and I’m not trying to follow a plan or adhere to diet rules. I’m just trying to do the best I can.
Priority #3: Moving my body for at least 10 minutes in a fun and challenging way.
I don’t schedule workouts on the weekends anymore because I want to do other things that are more of a priority for me. So instead I try and do one of two things.
Get in a very short 10 minute “movement session.” I’ll do more if I want to but my goal is 10 minutes. This may include a workout like this, a walk with my dogs, or it may be some stretching and yoga.
Participate in fun and or social fitness. Weekends for me involve hiking, rock climbing, Muay Thai classes, dance lessons, and other fun ways to move my body. Sometimes I invite people I like these things and sometimes I don’t.
Social fitness kills two birds with one stone for me. I can get in some movement and during or after I can connect with someone that I really care about. #bigwin
Get Clear And Realistic Goals. Decide What You’re Willing To Give Up To Reach Them
A lot of people say they want six-pack abs. That’s until they figure out what they’ll have to give up in order to get them.
If getting really lean is a goal then some sacrifices will have to be made and it’s best to be honest with yourself about that. You’ll have to be that guy or girl that orders a super clean meal at a restaurant with your family or friends.
You’ll have to get comfortable being the “weird one” that passes on a late night out for drinks so that you can sleep and get up early to train tomorrow.
But extreme leanness might not be your goal. Most people that email me say they want to lose a few pounds, feel more confident in their own skins, build a body they’re proud of, and “tone”… whatever the heck that means.
Get specific and clear on what your goals are. Getting toned is so broad. What the hell does that mean to you? What does it feel like? Look like?
Whatever it may be determine what sacrifices you may need to make in order to do that.
Is it really necessary to get up early and train on the weekends to reach your goal or are there other alternatives? Does every meal need to be chicken and broccoli or is there some wiggle room on a Saturday with your family?
Are You Trying To Be Perfect? How About Just Good Enough?
Do you only give yourself credit for exercise if it lasts a certain amount of time? If you burn a specific amount of calories? If you sweat, if it’s hard, if it hurts, if your heart rate gets to a certain level, or if you’re in a gym and using the equipment?
You’re not alone. I use to be like that too and it’s hard to get away from that belief. For years we’ve been told very vaguely that we’re supposed to get at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity activity 5 days per week or 10 minutes of vigorous-intensity activity 3 days per week.
I’ve had clients who’ve scheduled a workout after work but ended up canceling it because they had to stay 15 minutes late to finish up a last-minute assignment. Upon asking them why they didn’t just get their workout in 15 minutes later – instead of a 30-minute workout why not just 15 minutes? They usually respond with something like this:
Because it would have only been 15 minutes. Why bother, that doesn’t even count as exercise.
WTF! Of course, it counts.
Something is always better than nothing.
I see it all the time with clients of mine. Hell, I use to do it in the past too. Getting too wrapped up in following a specific program.
- Monday: Chest and triceps
- Tuesday: 60 minutes of cardio
- Wednesday: Legs and abs
- Thursday: HIIT cardio
- Friday: Back and biceps
- Saturday: 60 minutes of cardio and abs
- Sunday: Rest day
- 1 whole egg + 3 egg whites
- ½ cup oatmeal
- 1-ounce raw almonds
- 1 apple
- 1 string cheese
- 6 ounces of chicken
- 1 tablespoon of olive oil
- ½ cup of brown rice
- 1 cup broccoli
I’ll stop boring you. I think you know where I’m going with this.
I work full time and I bet you do too. You probably have kids. You may go to school. And I’m certain you have other responsibilities too.
I don’t think I really need to explain why most of us fail when it comes to programs and meal plans like this but I’ll say it anyway. These plans are for people without real lives and when your life isn’t dedicated to the gym and your kitchen – shit happens and that shit (gross) gets in the way of these programs and plans.
I just want to build a body I’m proud of without dedicating my life to the gym or a meal plan.
To do this I try my best to make working out and eating well easier to do. I drop the programs and meal plans and opt instead for what’s more important. Moving my body every day in a way that is “good enough” and choosing real food as often as possible in whatever situation I am in.
So instead of perfection decide what your “good enough” is and aim for that. A good enough workout would be the minimum effective dose that you’re happy with. For example, a good enough workout for me is a 10-minute workout like this.
- What is a “good enough” workout for you? What does it look like? Feel like?
- What about “good enough” nutrition? What does that look like? Feel like?
- What’s “good enough” sleep?
- What’s a “good enough” weekend in general?
Stop setting so many food and training rules like your workout has to be 60 minutes and you can’t eat carbs after 6 pm.
Good enough. Not perfection.
Final Thoughts On Weekend Domination
Let’s wrap this bad boy up.
- Define what a successful weekend is for you. What does it include? What are your priorities?
- Get clear about what your goals are and decide what you’re willing to give up in order to reach them.
- Strive for good enough instead of perfection.
Health and fitness, work, and personal relationships are often viewed as independent of one another.
But they’re not. If you’ve had a rough day at work it can affect you can take that frustration home and take it out on your significant other. If your health is poor and you’re exhausted it can keep you from doing a good job at work or having the energy to play with your kids.
What I’m trying to get at is this. Are there ways that you can build a body you’re proud of without working out and dieting taking over your life. Can you discover ways to combine your health priorities with the other priorities in your life?
I’d love to hear your thoughts. Feel free to comment below or to reply back to this email. I read every single one that I get.