The Weekend Advantage
Today I want to cover something that we were asked by one of our Fat-Loss Mastery members during one of our weekly calls. Lauren explained that she had always struggled with managing weekends in her diet and every time she eats out or goes for a few drinks it’s 1 step forward during the week and 2 step back.
I’m going to share what we told Lauren and how we’ve set up her diet to not only limit the damage of her weekends but also to take advantage of them and accelerate her progress.
First Consider this:
Have you ever been in the situation where your diet on Friday night doesn’t quite go as planned and you end up completely giving up on the diet until Monday?
Furthermore, do you ever find that no matter what you do, you wake up on Monday morning having re-gained all of the weight you’d lost the prior week over two days?
The weekend and all that it brings is something we work on a lot with out clients and if the above questions resonate with you, you’re going to really benefit from what we have to share today.
First a Personal Story
Not that long ago I was caught up in the corporate world, working long hours in the finance industry, I subscribed to the idea of living for the weekend. Monday through to Friday, I found it quite easy to stick to my diet. I’d prepare my meals the night before, fit my training in before work and generally speaking, I made really good progress during the week.
The problem would always come about on Friday evening. Restaurant after restaurant, bar after bar and social event after social event. Whenever I wasn’t seeing friends socially, there’d be something work related that I needed to attend.
Of course, all of these events involved food and alcohol in excessive amounts and I felt very stuck with how to manage this.
I didn’t want to turn down the opportunities to get involved with work social events and I certainly didn’t want to miss out on seeing my friends, all for the sake of my diet!
But equally, I felt so frustrated that the progress I’d make during the week seemed to vanish from the scale and from my appearance in a matter of days.
After many failed attempts and years of irritation, I created a system that I know refer to as The Weekend Advantage and I use it with many of our clients that struggle with the same thing.
There are a few key points to the system that will allow it all to work:
We can’t always rely on being able to predict your social life. If you need 2 weeks notice to go out for drinks, that’s not a flexible diet!
We need to move away from the idea of a daily or even a weekly calorie balance, for this to work, we need to think big picture.
In order for any of this to work, we need to have a good handle on your numbers, I call these “success dials”. Before you start trying to incorporate more flexible practices, you need to know what your weekly calories, training volume and sleep are. If you don’t know these, let us teach you how.
This simple set up below will help you to be able to be able to go out for drinks or dinner sporadically. In fact, we’ve seen this system accelerate many clients progress compared to the set up they were doing before.
The Weekend Advantage
Below are the simple steps to action and implement the weekend advantage:
14 Day Sprints
At the moment, you’re probably used to focussing on how many calories you eat over a day or even a week. We’re always pushed the idea of 1 pound of fat equating to 3,500kcal which means we need to eat “X” calories per day. This works well when you have someone who can hit their calorie target day in, day out with no variation. Let’s be honest, most of us aren’t that!
So, instead of 24 hours of 7 days, we’re going to reframe your progress into 14 day “sprints” of effort and not focus on anything else.
Let’s say normally you’d aim to eat 2,500kcal in a normal day to try to create a small amount of fat-loss across the week. Now, we’re going to move away from 2,500kcal/day and start to consider 35,000kcal per 14 day sprint.
3x Break-Glass Days
Of course, there are some situations where you can predict your social life and adjust accordingly. I covered those here. But in most situations, we’ll have plans to stay on the plan for the week and things will just get completely derailed at the last minute. We’ll be on our way to the car on a Friday night, keys in hand, almost at the finish line when…”Fancy a few drinks”.
The absolute goal is to be able to make progress in spite of what life throws at us. You’ve probably hear the phrase “it’s a lifestyle, not a diet” but I’d imagine you’ve never seen any advice that actually lives up to that?
We need to have strategies that are then when we need to break glass in case of emergency and that is what this system includes.
So, instead of a daily 2,500kcal target, we aim for 2,100kcal on 11 of the 14 days.
This takes up 23,100kcal of our 35,000 for the 14 day sprint which means on 3 of the days in any 14 day period, we can go as high as 4,000kcal!
The nice thing about this is, the days don’t have to be planned, as long as you stick to 3 in the 14 day period, you’ll stay within the 35,000kcal cap and your weight loss will be the same.
Here is a visual:
In the above example, we’re assuming that 3 days in the 14 days you need to break the glass. I’ve found from experience that this is the best frequency. It allows for:
1) 1 mid-week event and 2 weekend events
2) 1 big night at the weekend and one hungover day
3) One unplanned “I can’t do this anymore” day and 2 social events
The options are endless really, 3 days seems to balance well with most people’s lives. However, there is an “Accelerator” option. I always recommend that even if you have a quiet week, keep one Break-Glass day in each week. Refeed and high calorie days are beneficial for many reasons that I won’t go into here but one each week as a minimum keeps everything ticking over nicely.
However, one nice and easy way to accelerate your progress and reward yourself for a quiet week in front of the box sets is to simply drop that 3rd break glass day and drop a little bit extra weight that week.
There is a concept in psychology called cognitive dissonance. The basic adhere behind this is that we all have an idea of where we would like to be and then a reality of where we are. The wider this gap is, the more discomfort we experience.
When I was balancing my diet with my corporate life, I’d constantly feel a sense of unease. I would avoid turning down social events as much as possible because I didn’t want to miss out but while I was there I’d never really feel engaged and present. In the back of my mind I’d remember that I’d promised myself that I’d stick to the plan this week and that I’d planned to train early.
I felt trapped between two lifestyles, neither of which I was able to maintain.
I hope if you’re someone who struggles with weekends and maintaning your diet alongside your social life that this resonates a little? Maybe you too feel this sense of dissonance between where you should be and where you are?
Here’s what to do and how to action this system today:
1) Take your intended calorie target and multiply it by 14, using the above example, 2500 x 14 = 35,000. This is your target for each 14 day sprint.
2) Pick how much you want to overshoot by on your break glass days, I chose 1,500kcal to take me to 4,000kcal.
3) Divide this number by 11. 4,000/11 = 363kcal, rounded to 400 for simplicity.
4) Deduct this from your current calorie target. 2,500 – 400 = 2,100kcal
5) Sense check: 2100 x 11 + 4000 x 3 = 35,100. A slight overshoot but nothing we’d ever notice!
This is one of many systems that we operate with our clients and just an example of how you don’t need to be a victim of circumstances. You really can have your cake and eat it when it comes to this stuff and it often isn’t as hard as many would have you believe. If you’d like to learn more about our systems and maybe even ask us for some help, you can book a macro-audit with us HERE.