Everyday I see people put in massive amounts of effort at training; they are exhausted, sweating like mad and physically can't lunge another step! They feel great, knowing that they pushed themselves to the very limit of their threshold and can expect some serious muscle soreness in the following days.
At this point, I am confident that I have done my "magic" for the day. I have seen that they have exerted themselves beyond their normal boundaries and are experiencing a sense of achievement for all their hard work.
However, as they walk out the door I often wonder what goes on at home when they don't have their trainer looking over their shoulder and pushing them to the next level.
When they leave the "fitness zone" do they let all of that hard work, sweat (and sometimes tears!) fall away until next week? Does their determination to have a fabulous body go right out the window as they drive past McDonalds, KFC and Krispy Kreme?
Too many times I have seen people finish a grueling training session, only to start talking about the creamy pasta dinner they are cooking later (complete with baked cheesecake for desert). It seems as though the notion of health and fitness can sometimes be left at the gym - in this case, out of sight is really out of mind!
If you feel as though you fall into this category (training 100% - eating 20%) then listen up! This article has many tips that will ensure your weight loss journey continues, and doesn't stop when you leave the gym floor!
Just because you train hard and diligently, doesn't mean that you can eat whatever you like! Over time this will hinder your results and you will start to feel sluggish, while noticing that you have to work out twice as long for the same outcome! Stop sabotaging your goals and kick those bad habits with the following tips.
1 / Nutrition Knowledge
If you have no idea about proper nutrition or what eating clean and healthy entails, then I suggest you stop here and browse some of the other nutrition articles here on this site. First and foremost, you need to know what to eat, when to eat and how much to eat. This is crucial!
Say that your trainer has given you a comprehensive eating plan, which outlines all of these aspects. You know what foods you should be eating and which ones are not allowed within the vicinity of fridge! Then my friend, you have no excuses! You know which foods are going to help you become fit and fantastic, so straying off this list is a big no-no!
2 / Be Honest
Are you really sticking to your weight loss plan? Are you really eating the correct foods? Are your portions the right size? These are the next set of questions to ask yourself.
As a trainer, if someone mentions the above dinner option of creamy pasta and cheesecake, then this fleeting thought can easily be corrected with a reminder of the clean eating principles!
We can't be there to monitor what you do 24/7, however, hope that with the right guidance, you will realize that eating excess fat/carbs/sugar is not going to help you achieve your goals (which is why you are here in the first place).
You also need to be honest with yourself! It is no good pretending that you are eating the right foods, while secretly pigging out on junk at home! A lot of people don't want to disappoint their trainers, however you are not doing yourself any favors by doing this!
Eating clean amounts to 80% of weight loss, so it will be pretty obvious in a short amount of time if you are not doing the right thing.
3 / Food Diary
When using a food diary, make sure you report exactly what you are eating! It is no good if you eat 4 donuts then write down you only had 1!
Remember be honest with yourself! When you are eating properly, you will be very happy to see it all noted down exactly. This is a good way to keep yourself motivated and on track.
4 / Portion Control
If your nutrition plan says 1/2 cup of sweet potato, then have exactly that! Don't eat two big sweet potatoes and think that is roughly the same thing.
Invest in some scales and measuring cups. If you are not good at keeping your portions under control, then make sure you measure out your food. I know it may seem extreme, but it can make a huge difference!
5 / Eating The Right Foods
Similar to portion control, if your plan says 1/2 cup of sweet potato, then don't substitute it for bread, pasta or white potato.
There are some foods that are okay to substitute, however check with your trainer or nutritionist first. They may have put it there for a reason!
6 / Timing
It is important to make sure you are eating your meals at the right time throughout the day. Most people advise to eat every 2-3 hours to keep the metabolism going. This is a good idea and something you should try to stick to. It is no good eating a big breakfast then not eating again 'til dinner!
Space your meals out and you have sustained energy for the day. Eating before bed is also not a good idea (unless you are trying to put on muscle/bulk up). If you are hungry after dinner, have a whey protein shake.
7 / Organization
How many times have we all been stuck in the situation without the right foods at hand! Don't let this happen to you! Pre-plan your meals at the start of the week if you are busy.
Make sure your fridge is stocked with healthy items and bin any temptations! Always keep a supply of healthy food in your bag/car for those unexpected times. Small boxes of almonds are great, as well as protein shakes/bars etc...
8 / Leisure Activities
Going out with friends can easily turn into a calorie crusade, especially when you indulge in sugary cocktails, fatty bar snacks and that late night post drinking "snack" (of a burger and chips combo).
If you are determined to stay on your healthy eating plan, substitute your cocktails for diet sodas and stick to raw veggies and fruit for snacks. Don't be pressured into eating or drinking anything you don't feel like!
Remember, when you have completed your morning cardio and are feeling energized for the day, they will be nursing their hangovers and adding unwanted inches to their waistlines.
If you have been diligent with your eating all week, then save your "cheat meal" for these instances, where you can have what you like without the guilt factor.
9 / Nutrition Labels
An important skill to learn is deciphering the jargon on nutrition labels. Don't be fooled by the blaring headlines of "Lite", "Fat Free" and "Health Food". Many of these claims are unsubstantiated and are used in comparison to the full fat version of the same product!
Just because an item claims to be "fat free", doesn't mean it is without truckloads of sugar, carbs and other nasty substances.
For example, the other day I saw a well-known chocolate bar with the headline "Now with 4 grams of protein!" Reading this label, many people would think that this would be a "healthier" option than other chocolate bars.
The fact is that this particular bar had overwhelming amounts of sugars and saturated fats, making it an extremely unhealthy snack choice!
The same goes for many so called protein bars on the market. Just because they are found alongside other muscle-building and health products, does not mean that they are the best choice.
Many protein bars have the same amount of sugars as a can of Cola! It is important to always read the labels and look at the calories, fat content (especially saturated fats), carbohydrates and sugars.
10 / Fast Track Your Results With The Right Nutrition
What you do outside the gym is crucial to your overall goals, so next time you take a detour after your session towards the local sweet shop, think about all the hard work you have just done and down a protein shake instead. Be honest yourself and enjoy the results that will follow!