Archive for the ‘Q&A’ Category

I have never been that active of a person. I was always a musician. So what that led to was smoking and drinking a lot. Well, a while back I had had enough so I quit drinking and have not even looked at a beer since then. 1 month ago, I had my last cigarette. And god willing, they are both the last ones I have ever had. But I need something more. Here is my issue,

I am 37 Years old
and I weigh 215lbs

Now according to the charts for my height I should be at 170lbs. Personally, I think that is way to skinny for me. I would love to just see 190 again!

I just have no idea where to start. I will start by saying that I hate gyms. I dont know why. For some reason I think I am always being watched and judged (ya, I know…Like I’m that important?) I know it is in my head, but that is the way it is I guess. I really WANT to lose the weight, I WANT to get healthy, I WANT to be able to go hiking etc etc etc.

I have a beautiful wife and three great kids. I want to be able to spend the rest of my life with them and having a great time. not getting angry because I am over tired, and not feeling like I just don’t have the energy. I am tired of feeling like this. Some people have suggested to me that I try the P90X others have suggested the Spartacus training. I just don’t know where to start. I suppose walking is a good choice, but I want to build a little muscle mass as well. I want to feel and look good again. and as of right now, I just don’t. So, I figured I would see if you had a “Beginners Guide to the Unhealthy?” Maybe a “Try a sit up to start?” ha ha I don’t know….It’s like looking at the top of a mountain dying to get there, but you just have no way to get there….because your not sure you have the right tools to bring?….if that makes sense at all?


The 30,000 foot high view is this – you’re changing your body and health for the better, you’ve kicked some nasty habits (congrats by the way) and now you want to focus on looking good naked.

Sticking with very general lines of thinking, you need to lose some fat and maintain the muscle you currently have. You’re not going for the bodybuilder look I imagine. So maintaining what you have would probably serve your goal. If you add a little more than you have, so be it and all the better.

Knowing that these are the two variables you need to focus on (losing fat and maintaining/building muscle, it becomes pretty simple, on paper, to figure out what to do.

On the fat loss side of things, you need to be expending more energy than your body needs – get yourself into a calorie deficit as it’s often called. In theory, this deficit can be established entirely be eating less food than your body needs. Ideally though, the deficit is established by some combination of diet and exercise.

So do you need to count calories? Not necessarily. I think it’d be a good idea at first – give you a good feel of portion sizes, energy density of various foods, habits that are screwing you up, etc. But again, it’s not necessary.

Very generally speaking, typical “junk food” is much more energy/calorie dense than typical “health food.” Which means that per volume, junk food has more calories in it than health food. By default, if you were to cut out all junk food and replace it with health food, you’d likely reduce your calorie intake and create your deficit. Granted, you don’t need to be so rigid and nix every pleasure from your life… I’m just making a point.

Some guidelines to help you adhere to a healthier eating style might look something like:

1. Have some plan when it comes to your weekly nutrition. I have my clients prep their foods in advance which entails precooking meats, breaking out foods into reasonable serving sizes in baggies, etc.

2. Stick to whole natural foods for the majority of your diet – majority being the operative word.

4. Eat protein (preferably from lean sources) at every meal.

5. Consume 2-4 servings of fruit per day.

6. Consume 3-6 servings of fibrous vegetables per day.

I could go on, but you get the point. Most of us knows exactly how we *should* eat. The hard part is establishing an environment and mindset that promotes healthy behaviors and habits.

If you feel you can’t go it without counting calories, than you need to figure out your total daily calorie needs first. There are a bunch of ways you can estimate this. My suggestion is to keep it simple. If you’re going to start exercising most days of the week, something like 14 calories per pound is a reasonable estimate.

This would put you at 3000ish cals per day. If you think you’re more sedentary or that you’re not going to exercise that much, cut it down to 12 or 13 cals/day. It’s not rocket science. Once we have a reasonable estimate of your daily expenditure, you can set your calorie intake at a level below this to trigger your deficit.

I’m a fan of deficits of 25% or thereabouts in most situations, which would put your daily calorie target at 2250 or so.

One part many people screw up is the idea that once the above math is worked out, they expect it to work flawlessly. They forget that we’re working with a lot of estimates here and there’s some individuality as well as variability at play here as well. So it’s not the selection of your starting calorie intake that matters so much. Rather it’s the process you adhere to afterwords.

That process should entail:

1. Track your measurements, weight, body fat, pictures, etc every 2-4 weeks. Use what you have available. Most everyone can easily pick up a soft tape measure (I like the one called the myo tape, which you can find on amazon) and a camera.

2. Based on the trend you’re seeing with your tracking, adjust your intake accordingly. This doesn’t mean that if things go in the wrong direction one day, or even a week, that you panic. It means that you focus on the longer term trends. Expect that adjustments will have to be made. And make them logically based on what’s happening with the metrics from #1.

3. Rinse and repeat steps 2-4 until you a) reach your goal or b) your goals change.

Now all of this and we still didn’t talk about exercise. Let me preface this by saying it’s important to not bite off more than you can swallow. It might be wise to get your nutrition under wraps first. The last thing you want to do is shoot yourself in the foot by making life a living hell by forcing too much change at once.

But the above nutrition stuff will take care of the fat loss side of things for the most part. To aid in the establishment of a deficit, you might consider 3-5 sessions of “cardio” per week. Start slow. Walking is a great form of exercise. Hiking is fantastic… I’m an avid hiker/backpacker myself. Focus on things that you enjoy and that keep you moving for extended periods of time (20-60 minutes).

On the muscle preservation/building side of things, generally speaking, resistance training is the king. I’d like to see you work your way up to a point where you’re doing resistance training 2-3 times per week.  Some sort of full body emphasis that utilizes large compound movements such as squats, deadlifts, pushing and pulling is ideal.

You hate gyms for illogical reasons in my opinion. It’d be great if you could overcome those misconceptions you have. If you can’t though, you can easily do stuff from the comfort of your home. As you mentioned, P90X is an option. Besides the trainer, Tony, being a total screwball, it’s a half decent program considering it’s a mass-marketed, hyped up, prepackaged product. I’d opt for an individualized program, but something like p90x can be a stepping stone to this.

You could also consider investing in some equipment assuming you have the space and funds. Making your own programming might seem daunting at first, but hang with the right people on the right forums and you’ll learn quickly. I could help you out with suggestions in terms of equipment selection if you choose this route.

In many areas, there are small, private facilities that offer private personal training. That might be something for you to consider as well.

I don’t want to dive into the details of resistance training and program design here as I likely already threw too much at you. Hopefully this gives you a good idea about things though and if you have questions, feel free to ask!


Why your goal weight is stupid

Posted: March 30, 2011 in Q&A

I have a question for you.  Are the last 10 pounds relative? By this I mean pertaining to your final goal.

How do you define what the last 10 pounds are? For example,I weigh 136 pounds at 5ft 3. I think I would be happy to lose another 7 to 10 pounds as I’ve been at this weight previously and was happy with it and I like to keep my curves. On the other hand there are women of the same height who may wish to lose a further 10 pounds than me but still be in the correct weight category for their height.

So when is the last 10 pounds really the last 10 pounds?

I would love to know your thoughts on this because presently I’m really confused about what my goals should be. Should I shoot for 1 pound a week loss as I’m still at the heavier end of my healthy weight range or drop to half a pound so as not to compromise my body composition I’m not aiming for skinny fat!

Hope you don’t mind me picking your brains and I thought this subject may be interesting to others to.

First, I don’t believe there’s such a thing as the “last 10 lbs.” At least not in my world. Reason being – having a “last 10 lbs” implies that a certain weight, based on BMI, is ideal regardless of body composition.  Suppose we compiled a group of women with your exact same stats in terms of height and weight.  Do you think they’d all look the same in terms of physique?  Now suppose we had them all lose 10 lbs.  Some of them would look excellent. Some of them would look terrible. Which is why goal weights are pretty ridiculous if you ask me.

When you have 50 or 100 + lbs to lose, goal weights are fine. They keep you focused on the right direction. But as you get closer, it takes a more refined, precise and deliberate approach. The goal of hitting a specific weight goes out the window and optimizing the amount of muscle mass you have relative to fat mass becomes the name of the game.

Which is why various people can “wear” the same weight so differently. Height and bone structure plays a role. Fat distribution plays a role. These variables are out of your control. But how much muscle and fat you have plays a huge role. And this is what people need to be focusing on as these variables, for the most part, are in our control.

I can tell you that I’ve worked with women who came to me saying, “I want to lose 5-10 lbs.” They don’t know why. It’s generally some silly idea they have in their head of what they weighed in high school or whatever. They’re hoping that 5-10 lbs lost will ultimately and magically give them the body they imagine themselves having. And that’s the mindset our society has created – weight loss is the answer to all of your problems regardless of how thin you are.

Of these clients, many of them left my gym heavier than when they came.  And they were happy too.  It was the optimization of their body composition rather than losing more weight that ultimately made them feel (and look) good.

I’m not sure if I answered your questions, but this should be a good start.


Thanks so much for the reply.

From what I’ve been reading on this site I’m definitely changing my views on how it’s not just about a number on the scale I should ultimately be aiming for. Like a lot of other women though I find it a daunting prospect to eat more calories and add strength training instead of low cal dieting and cardio. I find it downright scary to be honest!

I’m really unsure of how to change my approach and what I should/shouldn’t be doing.

It has to start with applying logic to the situation. You agree that at any given weight, some women will look good while others will look not so good, right? Knowing this, we can deduce that weight really doesn’t matter – it’s quite arbitrary. Unless you’re trying to compete in some sport that has weight classes and you’re not telling me.

We know what goes into building an ideal physique – losing fat while maintaining (or even building) muscle.  So that’s what we need to focus on. When these variables are optimized, where your weight sits is where your weight sits.  Who cares?  If you looked exactly as you dream about looking, would your weight really matter to you?

Suppose we found out that oxygen was going to run out on Earth and they (whoever “they” are) devised a master plan to start a fresh society in outer space.  Would all of these women who are so hung up on the number on the scale suddenly be happy, even though their bodies didn’t change a lick, simply because gravity no longer “did it’s thing”?

Don’t let culture and media dictate what you do. They’re out for your money and nothing more and unfortunately, they’ve brainwashed a lot of people, especially women, into believing weight is the ultimate arbiter over appearance.  It’s just not logical.  Reminds me how cigarette companies used to frame their advertisements in a way that made people feel as if you weren’t cool unless you were puffing on their poison sticks.

Totally agree with what you say about the media. There are magazine articles with a line up of celebrities and what they weigh from light to heavy ! There is also a website that allows you to put in your stats or your desired stats and see what other women look like at that weight/height !

Its supposed to be empowering to women but it ends up with women looking at it and almost “shopping” for what their ideal weight should be. And I guess thats where the obsession for seeing the scale hit a specific number comes from. Its like “oh look! Jennifer Aniston is my height,if only I could get to her weight I would look like her!’.

I’m taking onboard what you are saying and am going to have to work on changing mentally and physically. The mental side will be hard after years (I’m 31 and first went on a diet at 16!) of thinking it was all down to that magic number and being ignorant about body composition and the major importance of that in getting the result I desire. Thanks so much for your insights and I will continue to be educated by your posts and blog
Very well put.

I think if you dive in and structure your exercise around building a better body opposed to reaching a certain weight, in short time you’ll forget about your obsession as you’ll be looking and feeling much better. And if you’re not happy, what’s the big deal? It’s not like you’re signing a contract where you can never go back to your “old ways” of doing things. Don’t apply unnecessary rigidity to this where you’re feeling overly anxious about nothing.

Sorry to be one of those many people who I’m sure bug you, but I need some advice… I’m 5ft, weighing 115 pounds, having a desk job. So my mainanance calories are like 1300 a day. Is there any way to lose more than 1lb of fat in less than a month? I’ve started exercising like crazy over the past few days (mainly cardio, but some strenght training too), we’re talking 3-4 hours a day, about or over 1000 cals, and eating 1100-1200 a day. I started seeing some results, like 2lbs in 5 days, but its probably water weight. I’m just wandering if what I’m doing will bring me effects I want? I want to get to 108lbs if I can… And I dont realy want to do that in the course of 6 months… I’ve been trying to lose it for ages, always going up and down the scale, and I’ve tried upping my calorie intake too (by about 300 a day) and I’ve put a lb on weight in two weeks. I’m getting desperate… Please help ?

I don’t understand the rush? You realize that if you use extreme tactics to lose weight, which you are, big time, the chances of keeping whatever “progress” these tactics derive are slim to none… right?   If what you’re doing right now isn’t sustainable for life, which it’s not, well… you get the point.

Will what you’re doing get you the results you desire? I doubt it. As I said a million times, beating your body into submission is NOT the answer.

A pound of fat loss per week is a reasonable average.  A pound of weight loss per week given your stats is a totally different animal once you factor in things like water weight.


Its not a rush, really, but I dont feel comfortable in my body, so shouldnt I try to change it? And you hear about people loosing 6 lbs in two weeks, not 6 months… I thought I’ll try to get to my goal weight and then slowly(and thats the key) get back to my normal eating habits. I dont plan to stop exercising and start eating more on the day I reach my goal weigh, I’m not that naive, but doesnt exercise increase your methabolism? If so, I shouldnt put on weight when I do less exercise/eat more? And I’m just so fed up with trying to lose those 6 lbs over the last year, that know I just want to get in done with. At whatever cost. I’m so confused!

You’re talking about rates of weight loss as if there’s an applicable standard that can be applied to everyone. When you have a lot of fat to lose, you can go by the stock standard 1% of total body weight per week. If you’re 200 lbs, a loss of 2 lbs per week is acceptable. 400 lbs, 4 lbs per week is acceptable generally speaking.  Heck, assuming they can handle it psychologically, truly obese people can lose at even faster rates without screwing too much up

But when you’re a 115 lb female, things change for reasons I’ve discussed in our previous conversations.  Biologically and evolutionarily your body doesn’t want you lean, which is why it’ll resist extreme efforts with a fury – slowing down metabolism and shutting off the processes that go into muscle maintenance for starters.  I don’t know about you… but those are factors that seem sort of important when it comes to getting lean.

As the wise Matt Perryman said in similar words, “You’ve to coax the fat off once you reach a certain stage… not beat it off.”  You have to trick your body into doing something it doesn’t want to to. Which is why it’s important to stop worrying about the rate of weight loss each week or month when you’re at the stage of the game you’re at and start focusing on how you look and feel. What are pictures saying? What are tape measurements saying? What is the reflection saying? What are your clothes saying? Because weight is pretty much meaningless when you’re as light as you are. It’s not telling you anything useful.

I’ve worked with women your size (who’ve achieved physiques they never thought possible) who were working with a rate of weight loss of .5 – 1 lb per month. And they maintained it. In fact, many went on to work on adding muscle with the appropriate training and a calorie surplus because they wanted to take their physiques further.

This is about setting yourself up for a lifetime. When you start worrying about how fast you can do it in a month or six months, you’re already shooting yourself in the foot by missing the forest for the trees.

What you’re doing may make a lot of sense in your head but based on my experience I can assure you that chances are very high that *if* you actually reach your goal weight (which is a silly notion anyhow since I can show you 20 different women who weigh your goal weight and some look great while others look awful) it’s not going to be maintained due to the unrealistic methods you used to achieve it.

And because you’re beating your body into submission, once you start “slowly getting back to the normal habits” you’re going to pack on weight very easily because that’s what your body is hardwired to do after it’s starved, which is what you’re making it “think” it is.

Our bodies are wired to store fat easily and resist leanness – and this is even more the case for small women.

So you have to learn to work with your genetics. Not against them.  The more you oppose them and the more frantic and anxious you get about not meeting your flawed expectations, the deeper the hole you dig.  Most people would fare much, much better by simply calming down, taking a few deep breaths, and looking at things in the light of logic.


Well, what do you propose then? The basic method for losing weight is eat less, exercise more, which is what I’m doing. I know I’m getting enough nutritiens because I eat very healthily. All protein, fibre, vitamins, good fats, good sugars, its all there. No junk food/processed foods, all home made, very little saturated fat etc So thats not a problem. And 1100-1200 is reasonable for my weight, right? So then am I supposed to exercise less? I enjoy exercising, and its not just boring gym, its all sorts of things. I feel great when I exercise. I really dont know what to do anymore, your posts make a lot of sense to me, but I’ve tried eating more and exercising and it didnt work. I’m currently size 6 at the top and size 9 (UK). Yes I know that size doesnt exist, and thats exactly my problem. Size 8 is too small, size 10 is too big. I’m pear shaped, so I heard its harder for me to lose weight? Everyone says different things, and its all so confusing…

You say the basic method is eat less and move more.  You’re right about that.  Unfortunately due to our culture and the mindsets it provokes, people take this mantra to the extreme.  Knowing what I know it amazes me when I come across people exercising 2-4 hours per day on low calorie diets.  But then I pinch myself which brings me back to the reality of the situation… everyone’s so damn confused and they have such short attention spans.  They want it yesterday and the whole immediate gratification things trips them all up.

You’re 115 lbs, so with sane amounts of exercise each day, 10 cal/lb of body weight would put you at a reasonable deficit.  If that wasn’t working, you might have to cut it to 8-9 cal/lb, but only if 10 wasn’t working.  For me it’s always about eating as much as you can get away with while still triggering reasonable rates of change.  This tends to keep your body’s regulatory systems on more of an even kilter.

If a static diet isn’t “working” you might consider some sort of CKD (cyclical ketogenic diet) where you’re installing refeeds into your plan each week.

On the exercise front, you’re doing way too damn much.  Of course it depends on what you’re actually doing in the gym… if it’s low intensity stuff like walking than you might be able to get away with it.  But I’m wagering that it’s much more than that.  When I come across people, namely women, who fit your profile… they’re always taking things to the extreme.

The point is, 10 cal/lb with reasonable amounts of exercise puts you at a reasonable deficit.  10 cal/lb with marathon gym sessions each day puts you at too large of a deficit.  Put differently, you’re going to outpace your body’s recovery ability.  Maybe not tomorrow.  Maybe not next week.  But it’ll happen sooner than later.  Then you’re going to be coming back to me asking the same questions – you’ll just be a lot more worn out and a tougher place to rebound from.

Find balance and moderation.

If you’re diet is as good as you say it is and you’re adhering to it consistently, stick with it.  Make sure your intake is actually accurate… using a food scale if you don’t already might be a good idea.  You don’t have to use it forever, but at least until you’re certain you’re as accurate as possible (most of us aren’t even close to accurate).

Having some reasonable targets as far as nutrition goes wouldn’t be a bad idea either.  Something like:

  • 1 gram of protein per pound of goal weight
  • 25% of calories from fat – maybe a 1/3 from each category (saturated, mono, and polyunsaturated)
  • 2-3 servings of fruit per day
  • 3-6 servings of fibrous veggies per day

Once that baseline is met, anything else within your calorie limit is fair game.

On the exercise front, I’d be focusing on full body strength training sessions 2-3 times per week.  These aren’t meant to be marathon sessions – they serve a very specific purpose and that’s to maintain the muscle you currently have – possibly even experience some muscle gain if you’re lucky.  To do this, you’ll need to be focusing on the basic compound exercises like squat and lunge variations, deadlift and hip thrust variations, pushing movements such as bench press and overhead press, and pulling movements such as pull-ups, pulldowns, and rows.  A handful of sets in the 6-12 rep range would be ideal for each movement.  The session will likely last between 30-60 minutes.

You can and should throw conditioning work on top of this.  This can be your traditional cardio if you prefer but it shouldn’t be all out crazy on the intensity or volume side of things.  That means you shouldn’t be sprinting every workout and you shouldn’t be running marathons every workout.  Remember, you want to work *with* your body… not against it.

As long as you can keep things in check, I’m fine with doing some form of cardio each day.  Some lower intensity sessions might last 30-60 minutes.  The higher intensity stuff might last 15-20 minutes.  But the higher intensity stuff should be used sparingly… maybe 1-2 times per week.  It wouldn’t be a bad idea to pair the high intensity stuff up with your weight training days, which would free up more days to recover in your week.

Beyond all of these details, learn to be patient!  And learn to gauge progress using more than the scale because at your weight it’s pretty useless at measuring progress.

I can’t put it much more succinctly than this.

Also, make sure fat loss is really what you need.  Many women keep chasing the “toned” look by dieting on top of dieting and the only thing it gets them is a frail, sunken look.  There are two sides to becoming toned, and that’s fat loss and muscle maximization.  If you don’t have the muscle, no amount of fat loss is going to get you to where you’re trying to be.  Unless, of course, you’re shooting for the concentration camp look. :p

Oh, and don’t worry about where your fat is positioned on your body.  There’s not a thing you can do about that.  You’re pear shaped you say.  Be happy.  Men like curves.

The blog has a pulse, but it’s very low.  In an attempt to revive it, I thought I’d start sharing some of the emails I receive from the many people who send me questions.  Others can hopefully learn a thing or two and I don’t have to worry about coming up with topics to write about when I barely have time to exercise myself.  I do have 2 articles that should be coming out within the next week.  The first is the final part of the “State of the Industry” article and the second is a very simplistic article about the Pareto Principle and basic food rules. 

In the meantime though, here’s a relatively recent exchange I had with someone via email.  Her comments are in red.

I see that you work with morbidly obese clients. While I am not morbidly obese, I am overweight. My biggest obstacle is food. I go to the gym regularly, enjoy being outdoors and I live in New York where I walk a lot, but I’m just maintaining my current weight (which is not where I want to be) because I over-eat on the weekends. I will do very well on the weekdays but as soon as Friday night comes around, I’m off the wagon for three days. If you look at my food diary, you’ll see that I usually don’t log on the weekends because it would be ridiculous (probably 3000 calories/day) and I don’t want to guilt of seeing it in “black and white.” YET, I continue to do this.

What advice do you give your clients to get their eating under control?

Well that’s a problem that’s widespread among people, but the causes of it are very unique to the individual.

A few questions:

1. Are there foods that trigger the uncontrolled eating?

2. Are there environmental cues that trigger the uncontrolled eating?

3. Why do you want to lose weight?

4. What does it mean to you, truly, if you don’t lose weight?

1. Foods that trigger uncontrolled eating: typically they are carb-heavy and/or starchy things like pizza, white bread, tortillas and potatoes. I also overdo it when it comes to cheese. I can eat pizza to the point of sickness, which is a little sad to admit. I am not too into sweets. I can control myself around cake, cookies, etc.

2. Environmental cues that trigger the uncontrolled eating: unfortunately, being with my boyfriend and going to his house in Long Island. We switch back and forth every weekend and it seems I can be “better” when we’re at my apartment. He lives in a basement apartment and his parents are right upstairs. His mom is Italian and cooks really well. Enough said. Also being at sports bars, where we like to go and watch the Yankees. If we sit there for a 3 hour game I inevitably open up that menu. And if I don’t, the boyfriend will…and I do not stop him.

3. Why I want to lose weight: I like feeling pretty and sexy. I’ve gained about 10 pounds since meeting the BF (when I was at my lowest weight ever) and I felt better during sex without the extra 10 pounds, so I think it would be freaking great if I was at my goal weight. I love shopping for clothes and I want to expand my store choices. I want to feel better in a bathing suit. I want things to be less jiggly all over. At my heaviest, I could not go straight through the subway turnstyle, I had to turn my body sideways to fit. Those victories made me want to lose more. I guess now that I can fit comfortably in an airplane seat, I’ve lost some motivation. More recently my boyfriend and I have talked about marriage and kids. I don’t want to get pregnant and still be overweight.

4. Truly, if I don’t lose weight…I’m afraid of what will happen. Even though I have established going to the gym and I am dedicated to physical activity, on a weekly basis I am eating more calories than I’m burning and like the 10 pounds I’ve gained in two and half years, I’m just scared of that increment continuing to tick away. I don’t want to go back to where I was. If I don’t lose weight, it means unhappiness…perpetual unhappiness.

So the short of it is you need to condition yourself to bypass short-term gratification for the benefit of long-term gratification. Right? It’s the choices you make in “the heat of the moment” that are conflicting with what’s ultimately making you unhappy.

Interrupting the automaticity that accompanies the “right now” is easier said than done, I understand.

But start with small changes. For starters, let your boyfriend know how you feel. If he cares about you, he’ll do what he can to make things easier for you in the weight control department. Inform him of what this means to you. That’ll help minimize the chances of totally blowing things when you go to see him.

Rid your house and ask him to rid his of the foods you can’t control. If you know temptation gets the better of you, then strip these foods of their power. Unless there’s a true addiction going on, your cravings won’t be strong enough to drive you to bypass eating what’s “on hand” and travel for your binge food.

Write out a list of your whys and read them every morning and every night. Set up reminders in conspicuous places to get your mind thinking on the right track as frequently as possible.

Ultimately, you have a choice. You either live in accordance to what it is you say you want OR you talk a big game yet do the polar opposite when life’s smacking you in the face. Control is attainable, you just have to be willing to reach out and grab the reigns.

You’re certainly not alone. The weekends are tough for most folks I work with. It makes sense, too. As a society, we’re conditioned to let loose on the weekends. We work hard during the weeks so we can play hard during the weekends. The weeks, for most of us, contain a lot of structure and rigidity, so it’s easy to couple structure and rigidity with meaningful exercise and nutrition.

In addition to this, most people have not only been conditioned to let loose on the weekends since they were kids… they’ve also been conditioned to eat poorly during this time, too. Think about when you used to go out to eat with your parents. When you’d get to have sleep overs at friends houses. When you’d have birthday parties. Weekends.

So put your game face on and decide that you’re going to improve your lifestyle during the weekends. I’m not asking you to be a bore. There are ways to live loosely on the weekends without gorging yourself.

First step should be breaking the association you have with relaxation and eating. Relaxation doesn’t have to accompany eating crap and lots of it.

Also, eat to live. Don’t live to eat. Many people, especially Americans, plan their fun times on the weekends around food. It’s amazing to me how most everyone I encounter perceives eating with friends as a good time. For me… hell, that’s a bore. I’ve conditioned myself to grab food with my friends on the go so we can get to where we’re heading to have fun. That might be a hike. Or fishing. Or bike riding. Or whatever keeps me moving. Living.

Food is simply the fuel that keeps me going.

Don’t get me wrong. I do enjoy a nice meal on occasion with my wife and friends. But it’s not a weekend ritual. And when I do go out and have a nice, giant meal… I don’t let it turn into my entire weekend. I make healthy choices beyond that.

Which brings me to my last point. Prepare healthy choices in advance going into the weekend. Have fruit salads made, lean meats cooked, fresh veggies ready to bite into.

In my experience, it’s about slowly regaining power/control of your habits on the weekends. It won’t happen overnight but the more you practice it and the more habits you adopt, the more you’ll override your unhealthy conditioning with your healthy conditioning. The more you’ll believe that you do have it in you to make better choices.

But the fact remains that you have to want this. You can’t just say it. You have to mean it. And have very good, emotionally-backed, powerful reasons backing what you mean. Without them, consistency and longevity aren’t going to be a reality.

A couple of things really stood out for me:

regarding my boyfriend: “inform him what this means to you.” I’ve told him I want to be healthier and I bemoan my (our) bad choices to him but he doesn’t know why I want to change and he doesn’t know how I feel it will benefit our relationship and make it stronger. This is something I’m actually energized to talk with him about.

Your observation that the structure of a work week helps so much to keep a good eating and exercise plan on track. Monday through Friday I wake up at the same time, I go to bed at the same time, I take lunch at the same time, I go to my gym classes and do my laundry on the designated day and it’s easy to align my my eating. Then the weekend comes and all of sudden I’m not on a schedule; I’m sleeping in, staying out late and feeling like it’s my downtime and I can do whatever I want and basically associating my time to relax with food. Another point that I’ve been oblivious to.

Even though I’ve heard some of this before (eating to live and not the reverse, not making socializing with friends about food or eating out), you still gave me a lot to think about. Also thanks for being straight with me. I do need to put up or shut up. I gotta put the game face on and get myself together.

I may turn your email into bullet points and adding that to my list of “whys.”

Based on my experience this is quite a common issue. Guys are happy the way you are and, due to their own insecurities, might be offended or scared of you losing weight and becoming “more sexy.” His mind starts going crazy with thoughts like, “What does that mean for me once she’s sexy?”, “Will she leave me for someone better looking once all is said and done?”, “I have no interest in getting fit – will this break our relationship?”

On and on the questions race.

Guys can be silly and stupid.

If you really love him and he’s the man you want to be with, I think it’s a matter of having a very frank discussion with him. Let him know that you’re not doing this for him or the relationship. You’re doing this for you. You’re not happy with your physical self and want to pursue improving it. Indirectly, a happier more confident you will lead to a happier, sturdier relationship… so there’s benefits all around.

Let him know that even if he finds you sexy, that doesn’t override the feelings you have internally. While you appreciate his appreciation of your body, again, this is about you and what you want.

Sometimes you have to spell it out for us guys.

And if it’s a matter of him being insecure about what this sort of change will ultimately mean for the relationship, you need to help build his confidence up.

The reality is if you’re with someone who isn’t on board with your fitness endeavor… either consciously or subconsciously they’re going to sabotage your efforts every chance they get. It’s human nature.

Best to the both of you and my door is always open.