Recently I’ve been doing quite a few posts on fibre. My plan was to continue writing about diet and nutrition but because of what has happened to me over the last week I decided to write about something different for this post.
Let me explain a little further. I took this week as a holiday from work. Since I live with students in a student area, I imagined that there would be quite a bit of partying happening during my week off. However, I thought that although I might be consuming a little (or even a lot) more alcohol my diet and exercise regime would not suffer. Sure, maybe I would have a lie in and miss one of my mini meals in order to sleep off any hangover but I thought overall I would still be able to eat reasonably well and get myself to the gym at least four times per week.
That was the plan. The reality was that I got myself into the gym on Monday and managed to eat reasonably well. Then from Tuesday onwards my diet and exercise regime started to suffer big time. As a result of partying hard and drinking far too much I really didn’t feel like eating or exercising. I didn’t go to the gym or do any exercise with the exception of a few short walks to the shops and when I did eat it was in the form of low quality, processed, junk food.
So why am I telling you this? Well as regular readers may recall, I previously made a light hearted post about it being OK to have an off day so long as “you do not let these off days get you down and have them turn into a full weekend or a full week where you do not train properly and you do not eat right”. But isn’t that exactly what I have done? The answer is quite simply…YES.
When I wrote that post I never envisioned that I would have a week where my fitness regime fell apart in the way it has this week. However, given the circumstances there was a certain inevitability about it. I train alone most of the time and so would have to rely on myself for motivation. On top of this being around the party atmosphere and other temptations such as junk food and alcohol, made it much more difficult to exercise than if I were at work and walking past the gym every day on my way home. Overall, the lack of structure to my week off coupled with the temptation means I probably should have planned my weeks a bit better. I should have made plans to prepare all my days food the night before, I should have made plans to go to the gym at a certain time on certain days and I probably should have exercised greater willpower BUT I didn’t. It’s all in the past now and short of finding Bernard’s Watch I can’t change what happened last week. That is what I want to talk to you about more in this post.
Ideally, my original message that we shouldn’t let off days turn into off weekends and off weeks is a valid one. However, with hindsight I have discovered that life isn’t that predictable. Although in this situation the circumstances were within my control, a lot of the time our fitness regimes may collapse for a few days or even a few weeks, despite our best intentions. Whilst I still believe it is OK to have an off day and we should do our best to make sure these off days don’t affect our future fitness efforts, I now realise this is not always possible. What is possible is to make sure that when we do slide we get back on track.
So how am I going to be making sure that I get back on track this week? Quite simply by replicating my diet and exercise from before my weeks holiday and also making some additional improvements which are discussed below:
1) PREPARING MY FOOD:- I still strongly believe that preparation is the key when it comes to diet. If I had prepared whole grain sandwiches for my week’s holiday in the same way I do when I am at work then I would have been much more likely to reject offers of junk food during the week. The main reason I went for the junk food was convenience and if I had something healthy prepared, the junk food would not have been any more convenient.
So quite simply I will be planning and preparing everything I eat next week. For breakfast I will either be eating a bowl of Fruit and Fibre, a banana, a slice of whole grain toast with peanut butter or a protein shake with milk. For my mini meals at work I have prepared my whole grain sandwiches for tomorrow and will continue to do so every evening this week. For my evening meals I have a number of meals that I have cooked previously in the freezer and I will also be cooking a lasagne later this week. Doing this will ensure that I have much more control over the foods that I eat.
2) GOING TO THE GYM AT A SPECIFIC TIME:- Like with diet I believe planning and preparation are very important when maintaining an exercise routine. Although I cannot guarantee it, I am quite sure that I would have got to the gym more frequently last week if I had said to myself “today I am going to the gym at this time and it is a priority”.
Therefore, I will be going to the gym at 6.30pm on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday plus at 10am on Saturday. On the week nights mentioned above I know that I will be getting off my train home from work at this time and therefore will be in the gym shortly after 6.30pm. For the Saturday morning session I am partially relying on myself getting out of bed early. Whilst getting up when I don’t have to be up is not one of my strong points, it is something I am working on. Hopefully, by putting it on this blog in writing and getting to bed by 11pm on week nights (see below) I will be much more likely to achieve it.
3) GETTING TO BED FOR 11PM ON WEEKNIGHTS:- This is not so much an action that will help me get back on track because even before my week off I very rarely managed to get into bed before 11pm. Really it is more of an action that will help me improve my existing fitness regime. Whilst I never feel overly tired during the week I do believe that part of the reason I struggle to get up when I don’t need to be up (i.e. on the weekends) is that I’m not getting enough sleep on week nights.
So to improve on this I will try to make sure that I am in bed for 11pm on most week nights. To be honest there is no reason that I cannot achieve this. Most of the time I don’t get to bed early enough I am just watching a DVD or browsing the Internet. In the future I will try to make sure I switch off the computer or DVD player and get myself in bed for 11pm. I am also planning to write more on the topic of getting enough sleep so keep your eyes peeled for future posts.
4) GOING JOGGING IN THE MORNINGS:- Jogging in the morning is something that I have tried to do in the past. When I do manage to get myself out of bed early enough to go for a jog before work (which as I already mentioned I do struggle with) I find it fantastic. The first few minutes are a real struggle but then after that I feel much more awake and alert and this feeling carries on for the full day. However, I’ve never managed to keep it up consistently so again it is really an action to improve my current fitness regime.
By getting early nights more frequently I hope that I will be able to get myself up and go jogging before work. This in turn will allow me to focus on resistance training during my time at the gym and do my cardiovascular training in the mornings. Jogging is another area I plan to do more reading and writing on as stamina is one of my strengths and I would really like to test myself further in this area so look out for future posts on this topic too.
5) STRETCHING DAILY:- Another fitness area that I have been neglecting for quite some time is stretching to improve my flexibility. I used to be quite flexible but have really let my flexibility slip over the last few months. Therefore, this is yet another action to improve my current fitness regime. The best time for me to do this will be after my early morning jog. So once I get back from my jogs I will also try to incorporate some stretching in there too. Like with the above topics I also plan to do a few posts on the topic of stretching once I get back into it because I believe it is a particularly important aspect of fitness since we lose a lot of flexibility as we age.
So to conclude, next time your fitness regime starts to suffer, make plans to get back on track as soon as possible. Life often throws obstacles in our paths and our fitness may suffer because of these. However, by making plans similar to the ones I have discussed above you can ensure that you get your fitness regime back on track and perhaps even improve upon where you left off.
What do you guys think? Have you ever let your fitness regime slide? How did you get back on track? Do you have any additional suggestions? If so I would love to hear your thoughts.