What do proper nutrition and Halloween have in common? Health! That's right. For many people, Halloween means fun, costumes, and candy. These three items tie directly into health. A successful physique transformation will address all three—fun, candy, and the costume you wear!
Halloween is a fun holiday. Children get excited because they can dress up as their favorite characters, wander the streets and acquire—yes! Candy—the ultimate prize. Some are happy to come home with small, plastic pumpkins loaded with treats, while others actually tote around pillowcases weighing several tons from the weight of their treasure. Even adults use this occasion to throw parties and celebrate the start of the Holiday Seasons.
A successful physique transformation must be enjoyable as well. Don't get me wrong - there are many sacrifices that you must make, but in the end you'll find that what you formerly thought you were giving up, was something you never needed in the first place. You won't miss it! So why do many people get frustrated with physique transformations, and stop having fun?
Common Problems With Halloween
The most common problem I see is with nutrition. The notion of eating bland chicken breast and broccoli for the rest of your life is rather bleak, and can dampen anyone's enthusiasm to transform. Fortunately, eating healthy does not mean eating boring foods!
My wife has some great recipes she uses to "spruce" things up—Cajun spices that she rubs in our grilled tilapia, lime juice and garlic marinade for our chicken, and meatloaf made with ground buffalo, eggs, and oatmeal. There are tons of resources on the web that provide exciting recipes loaded with all natural ingredients. If your budget permits, there are even some great hot breakfast dishes and soup products that are 100% natural, organic, loaded with fiber, protein, and quality carbohydrates.
Keep in mind that just because you don't enjoy something now, doesn't mean that you can't learn to love it. I hated seafood and refused to touch anything that came from the water when I met my wife. I kept an open mind, and she began preparing me dishes with milder seafood and loaded them with tasty spices. With time, I grew to enjoy those dishes and we moved on to more "fishy" items. Believe it or not, after just a few years, I now love seafood—I even find myself ordering it for my free meals!
Another complaint is finding time to workout. Research shows us that people who workout in the morning stick to their routine more often than people who workout later in the day. Some also believe that working out first thing in the morning is critical for fat loss. I disagree! While I encourage my clients to try working out in the morning as well, I believe it is more important to train when you will consistently make your appointment and have the most energy.
But what if you can't workout in the morning? If you see each morning as some horrible chore and are depressed when you have to drag yourself out of bed, do you really think this is something you'll be doing for life? I don't. I encourage people to try to change their habits and learn to enjoy it, but some people are just plain not morning people. Sometimes their schedule won't permit it. So when a client says, "Hey, I have more energy in the evening—I put so much more into my workouts and look forward to them." What do I say? "Go for it!" If it's fun, you're more likely to stick with it. I'd rather see someone exercise in the evening when they have energy and are excited about it, than force them into a morning routine that may eventually turn them away from a healthy lifestyle altogether!
Another aspect of Halloween is—yes, you guessed it! Candy. Lots of it. This is the perfect example of the key to a successful transformation: nutrition! Most people have no problem getting to the gym and performing their cardio and resistance training, regardless of how much they enjoy it (or love to hate it). But the nutrition? This is the true struggle. Those "unauthorized foods" are always lurking around the corner, waiting to jump out at you.
Halloween is the perfect example—after that pillowcase comes into the house, what happens to the candy? Hopefully, after a few parcels are sorted out and consumed, anything left over makes it to, well, the trash. Many people attach food to emotions and social occasions. Part of having a successful transformation is learning that food is simply fuel for your body. Sure, you can still enjoy Halloween candy and Thanksgiving feasts, but choose before what you are going to indulge upon, then choose to eat healthy and live healthy outside of those meals. It is a about a choice for health ... one that is critical and will pay off in the end.
Tips For Enjoying A Healthy Halloween
- Take in fewer carbohydrates throughout the day. This will deplete glycogen so that your "treats" are more likely to re-supply your muscles than get stored as fat.
- Train intensely after having a few low carbohydrate meals to further deplete glycogen stores.
- Save those treats for post-workout. Have a protein shake with your favorite candies on the side!
- Have a meal replacement shake or some other, healthy meal, before sampling the candy. With your appetite appeased, you are less likely to gorge and go overboard on the treats.
- Avoid taking coffee in conjunction with your treats, as coffee combined with sugar may increase fat storage.
The final, most fun part of Halloween is the costumes. The dressing up. I personally think we all have been wearing costumes, daily, at some point in our lives. I know I was. The 240+ pound man with a frown on his face sulking around in 42" slacks—that wasn't me! I was trapped somewhere inside that costume, and I didn't like it. Here's where the critical difference comes into play—for Halloween, we wear our costumes for a day. We know that we have a choice to take them off, and we do. What most people fail to realize is that they can take their "permanent" costume off, too!! That's right. If what you are wearing over your personality isn't comfortable, or doesn't fit, you do not have to live with it! Take it off. Make the change!
Visualization is important and helped me obtain my goals. One of the former champions for a contest sponsored by the supplement company EAS was a man by the name of Brad Wadlow. Brad had an amazing transformation. A friend of mine pasted my face over Brad's muscular body, and I printed this out and stuck it in my desk at work. I even mailed it as a joke to my parents, and at first, they thought I had really made that change myself! I sure fooled them, but here's the catch—I already picked out my next "costume".
That's right—the old, grumpy, overweight, tired me was getting uncomfortable—I wanted this new outfit to wear! So I'd look at the picture every day and visualize being in that body.
Eventually, I made the choice and I changed my costume. Now, I like the way it fits. Me? I'm the same person, but I've grown both on the inside and the outside. Inside, I learned to let go of emotions that ruled my life—depression, anger, envy, and other negative influences that were just dragging me down. This inner change gave me the strength, faith, and belief to realize that I am in control—and so, I slowly changed the outside to a more comfortable fit. Now I like the way I wear my body. When I mailed my parents my true "after" photos, the first thing they asked was—"Is this a joke? Who's body did you past your head on this time?" What a great feeling, to know it was my choice to wear the body in that picture!
Just as you can participate in Halloween, have loads of fun, and even collect your fair share of candy—you can change your costume as well. You have the power and simply need to make the choice. There are tons of resources available to provide direction—science has progressed rapidly in the field of sports nutrition and exercise, and more people than ever know the proper combination of nutrition, resistance training, and cardiovascular exercise required to obtain their peak physique. What they lack is the realization that they can do it—some still think they're stuck in their costume!
So these holidays, I encourage you to have fun. I encourage you to enjoy the treats that come with the holidays, but balance them with proper nutrition. More importantly, I ask that you consider the costume you are wearing now. Does it fit? Are you tired of it? If you want something new, then don't hope for it, don't ask for it, don't wish for it—make it happen. Make the choice, take that dream and turn it into a goal ... then achieve that goal!