Life is full of choices...
We need to make choices all day every day just to make it through our lives. What time we get up from bed will determine whether or not we get to work on time. How we choose to greet people will effect our own relationships with friends, colleagues and strangers. I could go on forever but i wont, as long as you get the picture? Choices are everywhere in our lives.
Now in terms of nutrition... or more importantly successful nutritional strategy, choices are THE make or break for your physique goals... and more often than not we are making poor choices with regards to the foods and drinks we eat daily. From the moment we leave the house in the morning, modern day humans are bombarded with advertisements (visual stimulants) suggesting to us what we may like to eat. We are ambushed by ridiculously good smells that seem to whisper in your ears as you walk through the shops trying not to think about food.
Just the other day i was on my way to get some nespresso capsules (Yes, im that guy) and suddenly i had an overwhelming desire to maybe go to the cinema. Completely bizaare thought? Puzzled by this, i then looked around the corner to see that Gourmet Popcorn were blasting out caramel popcorn odour at unsuspecting shoppers and the smell had reminded me of popcorns deadly association with watching movies. The queue was filled with depressed, sorry-looking people, nobody dared look up or at each other. The time was 10:45am, thats the sad modern reality of how and why people eat crap.
Relax you're on holiday
In my opinion (and experience) holidays are by far the most dangerous time for a "nutritional slip"
Nutritional slip - a non-offensive way to describe a person eating their own bodyweight in chocolate, cheese, bagels and alcohol.
So as an experiment, i decided to write the latest installment of the blog whilst on my Christmas holiday to Bali. Before i write more you have to know that i have a history of "losing it" on holidays and coming back 5kg+ heavier. Looking back at that now it seems like a strange behavior for someone who usually prides themselves on the way they live, work, train and has an ongoing goal of inspiring others. Anyway, this time i leave the airport not feeling like i want to drink and eat an awful lot outside of my usual routine and i want to share that with readers of the blog.
Situation 1: The airport
The airport is perhaps the only place on earth that can make you want to eat a cinnabon cake or drink a pint of beer at 10am. You know you dont need to have it, you actually admit to yourself you dont really want one... but "its the airport" or "im on holiday" mode kicks in and were off on an empty calorie binge that can last hours!
Choice 1: Burger King Vs Sushi
There are many options in the airport but the above choice is one that is close to my own heart. If you dont usually frequent burger restaurants in your usual working week then why visit one in the airport? seek out a sushi or salad bar and make a better choice.
Choice 2: Orange Mocha frappacino vs Espresso
There are approximately 1700 coffee establishments in every airport, thats a real statistic. I love coffee, a little less than i did a few years back... but i still cant completely get myself off the black gold. So i often find myself helplessly lured by the smell of it and the hope of a caffeine 'buzz'. Only 2 good options exist in these places and they are either Black coffee or water! Nearly every other option has too much sugar, dairy and calories to be called a drink (more like dessert). In truth, you are probably better off drinking water pre-flight, keep yourself hydrated!
In the words of King Arthur (guarding the holy grail in Indiana Jones & the last crusade)
"You must Choose wisely"
Still have some change left in your pocket..?
Why not donate it to the various charities on planes that take spare coins? The reality is you will buy a couple of small bags of percy pigs that you dont want because they were by the cashier and now you have no change left... winner winner.
Situation 2: Holiday evenings
Almost every international hotel restaurant will have choices. Choose a place that has a good menu, find out what the local specilaity is - it will be plentiful, probably well made and may also be cheaper than imported produce.
If youre a typical Brit you will seek out a full english breakfast, fish and chips or a steak sandwich. They are all solid meals but for the sake of this blog and a change of holiday habits i would suggest looking at other lighter options on the menu like local fish, chicken and salads - keep it light if possible.
Situation 3: Holidays Breakfasts
At hotel buffets i would usually say go for the lean protein source and/or some fruit/natural yoghurt but i was limited this holiday to a (very nice) continental breakfast of fruit, fresh orange juice, assorted pastries and bread and coffee. I made peace with myself by limiting the pastries and having black coffee. Although this is usually a lot more carbs than I would usually eat at breakfast, it's very good quality and psychologically makes sure that I put in a 20 minute workout before or after it.
Situation 4: Holiday snacking
If youre on a relaxing beach-type holiday then there is a lot of lying around, and thats good - a holiday should by a break from your usual routine. My usual life involves being on my feet for long hours and for long periods of the year so im not guilty to put my feet up when I have the chance.
However, this presents a new challenge of 'boredom eating' - meaning there is not much to do except eat and drink to pass the time away. This fake 'hunger' can mean you spend the whole day gorging on crappy foods whilst not buring the extra calories off. My tactic and advice would be to visit the local supermarket and stock up on enough nuts, fruit, water and even diet soda (if you have to). These foods will keep you from craving the crisps, sweets, chocolates and sugary drinks that will sabotage your waistline during the lazy holiday daytimes. Just keep in mind calories in/calories out - If youre not using energy there is no need to put it in.
Situation 5: Holiday drinking (alcohol)
I have mentioned in a recent blog that "Alcohol is the single biggest factor in people not achieving their physique goals". This is something that ive noticed in clients over the past 8 years and in my current client base today. Those who drink moderate/heavily 2/3 times per week (supreme genetics depending*) have very little chance in getting into great shape.
*I have met a handful of people over the past decade who can drink/eat daily whatever they want and not put on any bad weight. I used to be quite envious and i (of course) would love to have their genetic luck in that respect, who wouldnt? But i believe gaining fat and weight through bad habits in a good measure that we are doing something wrong. The internal organs of the supremely genetically-gifted will still be taking the same punishment through a lifetime without the visual barometer and decline of the external structures (bodyfat, skin, etc). So long term I believe its bad news not to see the fat you gain. Just my opinion.
Everyone has their own stress relievers and tolerance level regards alcohol so i will only offer my current strategy towards drinking alcohol.
Taken from "Wooden" (a book describing the habits and practises of John Wooden, a legendary US college basketball coach):
When consuming alcohol:
- Enjoy the first (Youve earned it)
- Sip the second (Make it last)
- Decline the third (there is work to be done tomorrow)
The justifications in (brackets) are my own. I feel the sentences are stronger when they are backed up with solid reasons of why they are important. Saying catchy phrases and mantras is great but you have to make them real. The Wooden rule on alcohol is something i will be adopting in the new year along with great work environment, structured/purposeful training and getting back into top shape being my major goals for 2014. Alcohol and the bad habits that follow plays no part in those goals.
The subject of alcohol, being such a major contributor to poor gym results (on many levels) is one i will cover sepertely in a future blog.
Thats all for this blog, thanks for reading. Dont forget to like, share and please comment too. I know some really good blogs that ended recently because the writers were disheartened by the lack of comments and feedback. Real story - i started following a kettlebell training blog which was excellent and the guy stopped because he felt nobody was reading. It was a shame to read his final blog describing his efforts and how they were a waste of his time.
Have a great Xmas and New year, if youre in Singapore i will see you for the the January Green & Lean fat loss challenge which runs from 6th-31st. If you are not, you can still join us, get the information sent to you and run along side the competition. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for registration details.