It’s back to reality with a bang – or a wobble
With lots of Optimised clients returning from their summer holidays and facing their first post-holiday assessment (and some who are still away and are emailing me to confess their sins – you know who you are!), many are amazed to find that they haven’t put as much fat on as their heinous gluttony deserved.
This poses an important question – how come, despite a holiday food strategy that definitely isn’t straight out of the Optimised coaching manual, do people limit lipogenesis (fat production)?
The answer lies both in biochemistry and psychology.
Number one – no stress hormones
While you’re away your adrenal glands are at rest, and your stress hormones, especially cortisol (which is one of the biggest fat storage hormones and fat loss blockers), are much lower.
So while the food going down the chute isn’t the best, the hormonal profile dealing with fat storage is much better, and so you get away with more.
Number two – lessons that last a lifetime (or at least a holiday)
A large part of what we do with our personal training clients at Optimised is education. What we achieve during session times means nothing if there isn’t follow through in daily life (or to put it another way, if you train three or four times per week that’s 3-4 hours, and there are 168 hours in a week).
So clearly if you’re not educated to change your life outside of sessions, you’re not going to get the results we expect of our clients and have built our reputation on.
One thing everyone notices while changing their eating habits is that their taste buds also change – away from sweet, sugar filled products (even apples have been bred to be sweeter than they were 40 years ago), and towards meat and vegetables/salad, made with tasty and nutritious herbs and spices (or real food as I like to call it).
Those dietary habits and education follow through to holiday time.
Yes, it’s ok to let your hair down and indulge in some treats while on holiday, but what most of my clients tell me is that actually they prefer the real, local food because real food tastes better and makes them feel better. When you’re in another country, nothing tastes better than traditionally prepared food.
Most people find their eating boundaries have changed significantly since they started out and this doesn’t change much on holiday.
Focus less on what you eat on holiday
So hormones and eating habits count for a lot, but the most important lesson I’ve learned myself and taught others is that when you get on the plane home, the holiday is over.
What I’ve seen time and time again are two-week-holiday eating habits lasting a month or more once the holiday is over. Some people never recover their composure, and slip back into old, destructive eating habits until they get back in our Manchester personal training gym to fix things.
And that, for me, is the most destructive part of a holiday.
A good plan the day you return or the day after you return is:
1. Go food shopping. Filling your house with real food right away will stop the temptation to carry on your holiday eating (and, god forbid, drinking) at home.
2. Start quickly. Get in the gym or book your first personal training session (if you’re in Manchester, start here) as soon as possible after you return, and plan your week out so you get back into good habits.
3. Watch your stress hormones. Don’t get sucked back into the stress modern life throws at you. Try and take time out each day that’s just for you to do something you love and be happy.
4. Don’t make excuses. The conversations that go on in your own head are more important than any other. If you tell yourself ‘I’ll start tomorrow’ remember that tomorrow will never come and it’ll be harder to sort yourself out with each day that goes by (unless you have me in your ear, and then you’ll have no choice).
5. Follow a program, keep a food diary. If going free-style when it comes to getting back into the swing of things is too hard, make a plan, stick to it, and fill in a food and exercise diary.
To your lean, healthy, optimised future,
Matt & Dee