There are three corners of life where I ensure deprivation isn’t something that features. Before I explain what these are, why would it matter?
Something I’ve learned about myself over recent months is that if I deprive myself of the things I want or need, it just doesn’t lead to any good. Being dedicated is one thing, being disciplined it another. But neither of these rely on you depriving yourself. Here’s why:
I tried clean eating, I really did. Whole foods, 95% of the time. But ultimately I have a bit of a sweet tooth and this would win every time, quite often manifesting itself in huge binges. I allowed myself ‘cheat days’, which unless you’ve got mega self control, is essentially a binge. After being introduced to flexible dieting, my eyes were opened to how unhealthy this pattern was for me personally. I felt tremendous guilt and categorised foods as ‘good’ or ‘bad’. Now, I ensure my diet is made up of whole foods about 75/80% of the time, every day. The other daily 20/25% is defined from the foods I love and don’t want to deprive myself of. Some oreos, some ice cream, a doughnut (or 2, macros allowing…). I want pizza one day, I plan it in and adjust my eating pattern around it. I don’t binge on it, feel insanely guilty, have feelings of regret and then feel like I don’t deserve a rest day that week. Wrong, wrong, wrong.
I appreciate some find 100% whole foods eating easy, and don’t lean towards a cheeky bit of something every day. But I need the cheeky something, and the sooner I acknowledged it, the better and more sustainable my approach to eating is. I now understand the science of hitting macros and fuelling my body correctly… an Oreo isn’t a sin, it’s carbs. No, it won’t fill you up, but if you’re filled on whole foods, an Oreo for me hits the spot and stop the sweet itch from needing to be scratched.
I’m the biggest advocate of getting plenty of sleep. I’m in a luxurious position; I don’t work shifts, I don’t have kids - I realise it isn’t that easy for everyone, but 7-8 hours sleep really is optimal for most of us. It allows your body to heal after training, it allows your brain to recharge and not getting enough of it can (scarily) be one of the reasons that fat loss stalls. It’s all linked to hormones and metabolism, and I must admit the science goes above my head. If you want to read more, check this article out. http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/sleep-unsung-hero-fat-loss.htm
It’s a common joke amongst family and colleagues that I’m in bed by 8.30pm, but in order to feel ready to tackle training when my morning alarm goes off at 5am, it’s essential. If your training is suffering or your fat loss has stalled, it’s worth considering whether you’re getting enough, and the right quality sleep.
Deprivation and training? Nope. Deprivation and rest. I know how addictive training can be; whether you lift weights, run, cycle, do classes - that post-training buzz and sense of achievement is infectious. You want that rush again. That’s what keeps us coming back for more. But when you’re in this zone, it can be difficult to remember to take rest days. If I told you that rest is an important part of your training, would that help jog your memory to actively plan them in? I just returned from a week’s holiday in Spain. Apart from a few HIIT sessions, a couple of walks and a bit of splashing about in the pool, no serious training was undertaken. No weighted or resistance exercise was done. I feared my return to the gym floor after ten days… but guess what? Despite feeling a bit fluffier, I was as strong as ever. I felt renewed and ready to smash all that came at me. I was amazed, because I’d convinced myself the break was going to mean it would be painful, but instead it just told me that my body had needed the rest. I’m not saying you need to take breaks from what you’re doing that are as long as ten days (injury being an exception) but seek active rest days between training. Your body will thank you for it in the long run. Restless on rest days? Plan other stuff to do in the time you would’ve been training - hang out with friends, tackle that wardrobe clear out, or embark on a box set marathon.
A simple mantra: Strive, don’t deprive.