If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that life is insane and it is going to keep changing and throwing us curveballs regardless of our goals, plans and aspirations. In my experience a big part of finding success in your fitness efforts is being able to adapt and follow through with your plan amidst the chaos. This is actually a topic I discuss with almost every client I have at one time or another. Unfortunately life will bring conflict whether it be a mass pandemic, a loss of a loved one, a break up, loss of a job, etc. Now, I’m sure some of you reading this will rank everything I just listed as a higher priority than fitness. And I don’t disagree with that train of thought. However, most people put looking and feeling good pretty high on their priority list whether they realize it or not. This is one of the reasons fitness is so addicting in the first place. Some people go through a big part of their lives only to discover fitness later on and they get hooked because they start to see how great they can actually look and feel. Now, if you don’t follow through with your fitness goals following the death of a close loved one, or the loss of a job, no one is going to judge you. But, in my experience if you are going through a rough time and let go of things in your life that make you feel better like eating well and exercising it can create an even worse situation. So, this post is designed to cover how to create a plan that is easy to follow when shit hits the fan.
Think back to how many “shitty” weeks you’ve had over the past year. It could be a bad allergy week, a tough week at work, a week with bad back pain. Now that you have that number in your mind think back over the past 10 yeas. How many “major” unfortunate life events have you had? A loss of a job, a loss of a loved one, a global pandemic (theres at least one of those), etc. Now I want you to take all of that into consideration. When people make dieting plans on paper everything seems easy and flawless. So, if I eat this many calories each day I will be at my goal weight in 3 months! In retrospect this is obviously not usually the case, unless you have a mindset that plans to have some shitty weeks in there. For some reason in my experience I have never had a weight loss client that had a flawless journey. Something always happens. They have a bad week at work, they lose a close loved one, etc. While all of these things are unfortunate they don’t negate the fact that you are working towards something. Something that at the end of your journey you will thank yourself for. Something that makes it easier to get up in the morning. Something that makes you feel better even when the deck is stacked against you. And in my experience the reason why most people “fail” at their plans is because they don’t take into account that 1) making any changes to your life and body is hard as f***, and 2) they expect everything to go perfect and lovely. So let me give you a few tips as to how YOU can be successful with your plans regardless of your circumstances.
So let’s say over the past year you have had 12 shitty weeks, that’s roughly one per month. If you set up a weight loss/weight gain plan that only works on perfect weeks that is designed to last 3 months. Well you are already putting yourself 3 weeks behind schedule. My advice, think about how you are going to react when you have a shitty week, and remember just because the situation isn’t ideal every decision you make either brings you closer or takes you farther away from your goal.
2) Make everything as SIMPLE as possible
Many people follow these crazy ass meal plans that force people to cook foods they have never even heard of before. Or they choose a dieting style that doesn’t align with their cravings/palate. The ketogenic diet is a great example of this because what is going to happen if you have an absolutely shitty week and you decide to crush a sleeve of Oreos. Well, now you’ve taken yourself out of “ketosis”. So, if you can’t follow whatever plan you’re on when the going gets tough you SHOULD NOT be on that plan because life is not all sunshine and rainbows. My advice, choose a balanced approach to exercising and eating, one that allows you to be consistent even on the bad days.
3) Figure out your caloric balance
When shit hits the fan sometimes exercising may not be an option. Some people that have families and a demanding job may find themselves in a bind if their boss pushes a deadline. When this happens we don’t want to be in “reactive” mode. We want to be proactive. So, let’s say on your plan you work out 4x a week and deficit your caloric intake 500 calories per day which will yield about 1lb of weight loss per week. If you have an insane week where you only workout twice well that messes with you caloric balance. So if you want to continue to lose weight you need to obviously deficit the amount of calories you didn’t burn that week. If you normally burn 300 calories a workout well that means you need to eat 600 less calories that week, or roughly 75 calories less per day. That number obviously changes based off of how hard you workout.
4) MAKE A PLAN, JUST MAKE A DAMN PLAN
Life is ever-changing. Most of us don’t have the luxury of a “normal”. We have kids, demanding jobs, loved ones that need us, home projects, and whatever else demands your attention on a weekly basis. When these things happen DO NOT give yourself an excuse to not follow through with your plan. The reason why I see many people fail is because when something throws off their natural rhythm they flounder. Well I always workout on Friday’s, but I have a work conference this Friday, ok so why not workout on Thursday? Theres 7 days a week, if you normally work out 4 you have 3 days with which to adjust your plan. So, when you have a week that throws you off plan on how to get around it. Be a problem solver, don’t be helpless.
5) Ask yourself how long you actually want to be “dieting” for
One of the best things about the world we live in is the copious amounts of amazing food that reside here. Sometimes I have vivid dreams about foods that I’ve eaten in my lifetime. Not sure if I should talk to my therapist about that or not. With that being said, how long do you want to limit yourself on the foods you can eat? Because in reality when you get to the “end” of a weight loss phase you have the ability to slowly raise your daily calorie threshold without gaining body fat, if you do it the right way. I have many clients who do really well with their food for a couple weeks only to fall off for the 2 weeks after that because they couldn’t moderate their portions, or decided to live in an “ignorance is bliss” type of mindset. The reality is somewhere, some way you have to sacrifice if you really want to change. You can sacrifice consistently and see results quickly or you can sacrifice here and there and drag out your “diet” over a matter of years. The choice is yours. Now, when I say sacrifice I don’t mean you have to give up the food you love, you just have to moderate how much of it you consume. And again this has to be a consistent thing. Even when weeks are tough. The worst thing you could do for yourself is have a complete “fuck it” day or week because life got tough. So going back to my earlier point make it simple.
Alright guys and gals that’s it for todays rant. Remember choosing to change your body is one of THE HARDEST things you will ever do in your lifetime. Why do you think the fad diet industry is so lucrative? People have such a hard time doing this that they pay companies millions of dollars per year to make it easier for them. So here is some free advice on how to succeed. Make it simple, plan to fail, follow through with your plan, and remember you don’t want to be restricting yourself forever.
Stay strong everyone
My name is Patriel Dunford and as the owner of Infinite Fitness my main goal in life is to spread good advice in the health industry and help people live healthier, longer, more fulfilling lives.