Momentum is a huge factor in success and failure. A sub-par team can ride some wins right into the playoffs, championship, and be crowned winners. On the other hand, a great team can slide to the bottom of the pack and right out of contention.
The same goes for your physique transformation. When you are rolling on all four cylinders, you feel unstoppable. You are making progress. You are not only crushing the time with the iron but in the hours beyond the gym’s mirrored walls. With every passing day as you consistently hit macros, log workouts, and do all the little things to ensure your recovery, progress seems simple.
But then you hit a bump in the road. Maybe you just get a flat tire. Maybe you have to take a detour. Maybe you crash big time and total your progress up until this point.
Those bumps along your fitness journey could be big like a injury that leaves you sidelined or small like a meal that unexpectedly becomes a cheat and surplus.
These pot holes are an EXPECTED part of the process. Do not be surprised by them. Instead, embrace them and have strategies in place that allow you to overcome.
It’s what you do AFTER you encounter a bump in the road.
Do you let negative momentum take over?
Do you let one binge fest turn into 3 days into a month?
Do you say fuck it and just give up? Just to tell yourself it’s too hard anyway.
Do you get back on the wagon?
Do you fight like hell to get your feet back on the ground? Then find a new route to take?
Do you accept the challenge as you reach closer to your finish line.
Holidays, vacations, and celebrations are huge momentum shifters during one’s journey of physical transformation. Whether it’s a planned day without dietary rules but encouragement to feast until at least one button in your pants must be undone or an impromptu refeed. [If your coach doesn’t allow you to enjoy holiday’s freely, you might want to think about hiring a new one. Just saying.]
It’s only one day off and it will certainly NOT derail all of your progress. Whether the scale says an increase of 7 pounds or you can’t muster enough courage to step on it, we can ensure you that you have not gained that much fat within 24 hours. We would say 99% of that is actually only water retention from excess calories (mostly in the name of carbs) and water (from carbohydrates and sodium intake).
The momentum shift is decided upon the next day. When all of the leftovers are just sitting there desperately calling your name like that psycho from Tinder, that’s when you must decide if you want to bask in the glory of success or pout in defeat.
Just as a team must decide how they want to react after a loss. Either throw in the towel for the season or get back on the wagon immediately following the upset.
Whether it is a single event that cause a hesitation in your success streak or a series of them, let’s break down five strategies to effectively get you back on track when it comes to your fat loss and muscle gain.
1. Back to Back.
Like Jordan ’96, ’97.
The number one thing you DO NOT want to do is allow your binges to go back to back. You must fight like hell to stop the cheat dead in it’s tracks.
But what about all those innocent leftovers or the remaining 5 days on your vacation…We’ve been there and failed epically before. Those struggles have allowed us to develop these strategies.
At some point, you will hit bottom. The point you look in the mirror and know enough is enough. The point where you cannot look at food, let alone eat another shitty meal.
This is where you must have a mental shift, remind yourself of your goals, and swing the momentum in your favor. That begins with getting back to the basics.
We know, we know. It does not sound sexy at all.
But trust us with this one. You just need to take a few small steps.
For Eric, his one small step is WATER INTAKE. Just drink half your bodyweight in ounce. So if you’re a brute 200 pounds, go with 100 ounces of water.
For Ryan, replace all the protein bars (even though we love to cheat clean with Quest) with nutrient dense foods.
For You, it can be simple as…
- Taking your vitamins again
- Going for a walk
- Starting your day with a dynamic mobility routine
- Packing your meals and/or doing meal prep
- Tracking macros in your MyFitnessPal app
Rely on the snowball effect here in a positive direction. One that takes you down and off the wrong mountain you are currently on and closer to the mountain where your goals and aspirations reside.
2. Skip the Snacks.
We will not tell you that you must eat 6 meals a day to fuel your metabolic furnace nor we will we say you must intermittent fast and only eat 2 meals in a certain time period. As research has clearly stated, meal frequency does not matter. The overall intake of your calories does.
The next stop to get you back on track will be to STOP SNACKING. You are not in preschool anymore. You do not need a snack.
Instead, have a damn meal.
A meal that fits within your caloric intake and macronutrient targets. A meal that consists of protein, fat, and carbohydrates. A meal that keeps you satiated for 3 to 5 hours. A meal that gives you energy to go about dominating your day.
The first problem with snacking throughout the day is that you do not have an exact idea on the amount you are consuming. It is very easy to be lackadaisical with your counting.
In this moment, the last thing your mind wants to do is start pulling out the scale to weigh foods. Remember, we are battling resistance here. It will be a lot easier to just grab food and snack than to actually plan out a meal. Shift the momentum with meals.
The second problem with grazing is that most foods that are deemed a snack are calorically dense. Even if they are “healthy”, these foods may not fit into your calculated calories and macros to change your body composition.
Some of the offenders are energy and protein bars, chips and pretzels, granola and trail mix, nuts and seeds, nut butters, dried fruit, nut butters, and cheese.
We are NOT DEMONIZING any of these foods whatsoever. If you enjoy these, do not us hold you back. Enjoy these by just figuring out how you can fit them in your day. Make them part of your balanced meal instead of a handful here and there.
3. One Set.
The KEY to getting your diet back on track is SIMPLICITY. At least at first.
Do not try to implement every single diet trick you picked up from the post-Thanksgiving headlines. You will most likely fail and end up in a place much worse than the beginning of your holiday.
With that said, you should only be tracking ONE SET OF MACROS.
There is no reason to get fancy here with calorie and carbohydrate cycling depending on your training cycle.
Since you were just in a calorie surplus for the last day to week or even month, the habit of tracking is a priority on your list. It’s the ONE BIG THING you must start doing – whether learning for the first time or getting back in on the action.
Do not worry about the timing of your specific macros either. Just HIT YOUR TARGETS like Hawkeye.
This is our list of priorities when it comes to macros:
- Hit your protein.
- Stay below caloric limit.
- Listen to your body and within your circumstances, fill in the rest with fat and carbohydrates.
This will get the ball rolling in the right direction. Then later you can play around with TRAINING and REST day macro targets to further your goals of fat loss, muscle gain, or body recomposition.
4. Understand the Bloat and Weight Gain.
Now that we have light the match and started the fire, we need to keep that fire roaring. With those actionable steps you have taken to get back on track, you will expect to actually see some results. At least to reset you to where you were before the holiday.
Since you just went through a period of caloric surplus and increased sodium intake, most of the unwanted weight and bloat you are holding is directly from retaining water.
In the name of pie, most of the consumed calories were most likely in the form of carbohydrates.
Not too geek out on you too hard, but it’s important to understand why the scale may show you are up a few more pounds than you would like.
Carbs are stored in the body as glycogen; primarily in the muscles. With every single gram of carbohydrates stored, it will also hold 3 to 4 grams of water.
So if you consumed an extra 110 grams of carbs (440 calories) on Thanksgiving Day, you will hold about a pound of just water with it. Add in salt on top of the actually weight of the food you indulged in and we have the reason for the scale weight increase.
This is not the problem but a cause of why you feel bloated and your abs have disappeared in less than 24 hours.
To put this science to use for you, here are some ways to drop the first few pounds to feel and look better faster.
REDUCE CARBOHYDRATE INTAKE.
Drop your carbohydrate intake below 100 grams for a 3 to 5 day period. Not only will this allow you to drop some of the water weight but also reset your insulin levels.
Do this by reducing starchy carbohydrates like potatoes, rice, and fruits. Do not worry about your green vegetable intake towards your carbohydrate targets.
PUT YOURSELF INTO A CALORIC DEFICIT.
If fat loss is your goal, you should set your caloric intake lower to off set your increased consumption. Instead of adding in a full day of fasting, you could decrease caloric intake by 300 to 500 calories below your baseline over the course of the next week.
DRINK MORE WATER THAN USUAL.
Most people think that by consuming more water you are just adding to the problem. That is actually the total opposite. This will cause you to retain the water we discussed above.
Just drink a lot of damn water, ok?
This is simple.
Our non-negotiable is always training. Whether we get “too busy” or our diets go out the window, one thing that never gets pushed aside is our training.
We are not saying that you must get in 6 days a week of training plus extra metabolic work. Whatever your regimen is just be sure to do it.
Get in a sweat to help with the strategy above. Add in some extra volume. Hit another high intensity interval session or two this week to put yourself into more of a caloric deficit.
However you decide to move (strength training, bodybuilding, crossfit, yoga, cycling, hiking, walking, etc.), just do it.
Yes, we have our preferred ways to achieve a specific goal and the methods we typically use for our clients and ourselves. But do whatever gets you off the damn couch and that you actually enjoy after completion.