Learn everything there Is to know about fItness, performance, fat loss and lifestyle from Adrian McDonnell.
“Usually I’m fine throughout the day. I have my breakfast & my lunch. I’ll eat my dinner when I come home. But I find it hard to be disciplined in the evenings. After dinner I always find myself reaching for some treats and it’s something I’ve been doing a lot of recently.”
This is a summary of coaching call I had a with a client recently. And this is something I’ve been getting a lot of recently – people eating bigger portions than they normally would or having more sugary snacks than they’re accustomed to.
It was only recently that I understood why this is such a struggle for people nowadays (myself included) & I’ve since developed some strategies you can use to help reduce the risk of gaining some extra pounds over the holiday season.
More Energy In
Shoutout to Cian O’Brien – a fellow Online Trainer who brought this concept to my attention.
Essentially, the combination of the wet & cold winter evenings and the long dark evenings mean we’re all spending more time indoors over the winter than we would say, during the summer. Why does this matter? Instead of going for a walk, doing some work outdoors or just spending more time in nature, we’re doing the opposite – spending more time indoors, feet up on the couch watching tele or more time in the kitchen.
We all know that eating (energy in) is not only something we enjoy doing, but it’s also an activity – it gives us something to do. So often we do it out of habit – we don’t even realise it. Here’s an example. Have you ever walked into the kitchen with absolutely no intention at all to eat something? Then as you walked in, you saw something on the table that was easy and convenient to grab – it might have been a sugary snack such as biscuits or sweets. Or it may have even been a piece of fruit such as some grapes or berries. The food itself doesn’t matter – it’s the action that counts. And the action is you eating even though you had no intention of doing so prior to entering the kitchen.
And this is a challenge that comes with the long, cold winter evenings. We’re naturally spending more time indoors which means the potential to eat more is always there. Combine this with the fact that supermarkets are stocking up on tins of biscuits, boxes of sweets, selection boxes and multi-packs of crisps. Essentially, it means that not only are we spending more time in the kitchen, but the type of food in our environment is more likely to be low nutrient, high sugar foods.
Less Energy Out
Spending more time indoors and being exposed to high calorie foods is only ½ of the problem. The other lies in the fact that we’re moving less. We’re not as active as we would be during the summer months and we seem to be more static.
Your Non Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (NEAT) refers to the energy you do throughout the day that is not eating, sleeping or sports like activities. Essentially, it refers to everything from walking about, to doing work outside to fidgeting. More importantly however, your NEAT accounts for up to 25% of your daily caloric intake. In other words, someone who is more active in their day to day lives may require up to 25% more calories than someone who sits down for most of the day at a desk job and doesn’t move around much in the evening.
NEAT has a high impact on fat loss. But the opposite is also true. Lack of activity and remaining static all day means you burn less calories on a daily basis. Now going back to the above point regarding spending more time indoors – can you now see how it’s so easy to add on an extra few pounds even if you’re someone who still does some home workouts or train in the gym? Essentially, we are eating more and moving less which is a bad combination if you’re someone who is striving for fat loss. So what can we do to help this?
Change Your Environment
Berardi’s Law (John Berardi is the co-founder of Precision Nutrition) states that if a food is in your house and available conveniently, you will eventually eat it. Don’t rely on will power.
What can we learn from this? Make high nutrient, lower calorie foods more visible in your environment and low nutrient, higher calorie foods more invisible in your environment. An example of this would be having a fruit bowl on your kitchen table while placing the tin of biscuits at the back of the press that you can only reach by standing up on a chair to get it!
Essentially, you want to make better quality foods more readily available in your environment and increase the friction involved to accessing the lower quality foods. A personal example of this for me was when my sister recently brought down a Reese’s Puffs chocolate peanut butter cup cereal from Dublin for me because she knows how much I enjoy cereal! Cereal is usually stored in the press in the kitchen which is easily accessible. However, knowing that if I so much as saw the box I would crave to dig my hands in and take a massive handful or have an entire bowl, instead what I did was I put it out of sight on top of the press so I wouldn’t see it or even think about it when I would open the press to grab my porridge.
Have you ever worked in a job where you just did not want to go? The thought of going itself put you in a bad mood and all you wanted to do was stay in bed and hit the snooze button? But usually, despite not wanting to go we got up (reluctantly), got dressed and went out to work despite how we were feeling.
Treat your exercise and daily movement the same as your job. Take out a pen and paper and schedule time in your busy week for exercising. This might be a home workout, a walk, a cycle etc. – it doesn’t really matter. But writing it out does two thing:
What’s important here is once you write it down, you must hold yourself accountable to your word. This will help build confidence and develop a winning mindset.
Simple Daily Activities
Other simple daily actions to help you move more and eat less include:
“The weather is making us fat!” This statement is somewhat true - eating more while moving less is a dangerous combination.
Knowing this, you are now armed with the tools of how to control your environment and what simple daily actions you can take to ensure your health and fitness remains a priority, even during challenging times.
Thank you for reading. I hope you found this beneficial.
P.S. I’ve some online coaching spaces available for people who want to:
Contact me today if you’re interesting in learning more. If not now, when?
Adrian McDonnell -
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