Written by Jen Keck
You’ve been killin’ it. Eating well and training smart, and you can feel your body changing.
A couple of weeks go by and some sneaky thoughts start to weasel their way into your brain, all prefaced with those four dirty little words of “I’ve been so good…”
I’ve been so good that I deserve this bucket of frozen yogurt.
I’ve been so good that I should have this deep dish pizza.
We stick to our guns for a little while but inevitably comes the feeling that we have a bit of leeway. Wiggle room. A margin for freedom, if you will.
Veering off plan once in awhile is not only fine; it’s human! However the problem is that I see people who are sabotaging their progress by indulging too frequently because they’ve “been so good”.
Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday were on point so they treat Thursday like a Free Day. Back to eating healthy Friday, which just must mean that you can indulge again on Saturday and Sunday.
Chew, swallow, rinse, and repeat this behavior and POOF! before you know it you are right back to where you started.
Brand new information: If physique changes are your goal, eating nutritious foods for a couple of days doesn’t give you a free pass to eat whatever you want. If that were the case – and I sincerely wish it was – then you’d be able to find me in a FroYo induced coma at my local Orange Leaf every 3 days.
Now here is the real kick in the pants:
Every time you let yourself go backwards, it is even harder to go forwards.
Allow me to elaborate. It’s fairly easy to succumb to the mindset of, “Oh I’ll gain a few pounds and then just dial things back in later and lose them.”
Not so fast.
Ask anybody that has dieted down, gained the weight back, and tried to diet again; it gets harder every single time and your body will fight you every damn step of the way. Getting lean again will likely mean even tougher dieting along with more energy expenditure work.
Of course this means an increased likelihood that you won’t be able to stick with it, which leads to falling off the wagon yet again, regressing, and then repeating this mess.
You know how it goes. We’ve all done it at some point. It probably sounds something like this:
“Okay, I’m going to eat this ___insert food-that-isn’t-at-all-conducive-with-my-goals___ tonight, but for the rest of the week I will be spot-on! No, better than spot-on. Perfect! Yes, I will be perfect for the remainder of the week!”
But then tomorrow shows up and we, once again, have visions of sugar dancing through our head and find ourselves thinking, “Well, I had some last night so I’m sure a teeny tiny bit more won’t hurt”, so you indulge again. The next day rolls around and… well, you can see the trend.
Pretty soon you are up to your eyeballs in mental I.O.U’s and you find yourself living in a perpetual state of make-up for countless days of workouts and eating clean.
Regression can swoop in and knock us on our ass before we have a chance to polish off that pan of Paleo brownies. Why?
The theory of The Set Point
This goes back to basic Biology and homeostasis, but to simplify, your body composition is comfy right where it’s at. You can get it to change, but once you get to your happy place you still have to work hard in order to maintain it – the maintenance stage isn’t really smooth sailing until you’ve been sitting pretty there for quite some time.
This is why people can really dial in their diet and training for a few months, lose a few bodyfat points, go on a three week bender and regress right back to where they started – aka, their set point.
However, you may notice people that have been lean for a long time (think years) can be a bit more lenient with their diet and still keep their bodyfat down – that is because they’ve managed to reset their set point.
Break the Cycle
The first step in breaking the vicious cycle of self-sabotage is to find a plan that genuinely works for your lifestyle and your body, and it must be something that is, all things considered, sustainable. Short term plan means short term results. A long term plan means long term results.
The next step is that you must realize that maintaining a lean body is a lifestyle change. If you think that you can get lean and then start throwing donuts and pecan pies down your throat again, you are in for a rude awakening… and probably much bigger pants.
I emphasize this next point to my nutrition clients non-stop: your food must be enjoyable. Please stop eating dry chicken and soggy broccoli. A person can only take so much of that before they fall off the wagon, and who can blame them? There are an infinite number of websites out there that offer recipes that can be modified to fit into your fatloss lifestyle. Spend some time making it delicious and satisfying.
Reward yourself with non-food items. I am a magazine freak. I love gazing at pretty pictures and reading all about the newest trends. If that isn’t your gig, then anything else will do: new workout clothes, a book, a trip to Sephora, or whatever gets your motor runnin’.
Your excellent behavior and positive nutrition changes certainly do entitle you to something great: Radiant health, tons of self-confidence, and the life that you love!
Okay, that was cheesy. But for realsies!Born and raised in Salt Lake City, Jen Comas Keck is a nutrition expert and NASM certified trainer. Keck has a very diverse fitness journey, from cardio queen, group fitness instructor to figure competitor. This range of experience allows her to speak on a variety of topics facing people. In addtion to the mergers and acquisitions company Jen owns with her husband, she also operates a successful nutrition coaching business. Website, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter