What is a weekend wobble? I hear so often of clients who have eaten healthily and trained well, all week, only for monday morning to come around and they say “I had a bit of a blow out at the weekend, but I am back on it now!”

So I have undertaken some research in local pubs and restaurants this last few weeks at the weekend and taking some notes of my own. I have been experimenting with regards to what impact going to the pub, or at least conditioning myself to believe that it should be part of my routine, and a reward for my hard week at work. How it makes me feel afterwards, how much it costs me in money, wasted time not to mention the health issues it may encourage. I really have left no stone unturned!

This may sound odd for a trainer to admit but I wanted to put myself in the position of so many, to see what the big deal is or to see how hard it is to come away from formed habits. Rumour has it, that habits form after 21 days of regularly doing something which is why I have been going out and ‘treating myself’ for being a good boy all week. Seen as money makes the world go round these days, and everyone wants a Rolls Royce for the price of a 1970s Lada Riva I will cover this point first.

My tipple is Guinness, and at £3.80 a pint it doesn’t take long to burn a hole in the pocket. A G&T in the same place will cost £4.60, Large Glass of Red £5.85! In any case, whatever your beverage of choice is, it’s not going to be cheap after a few! It’s quite funny how you see the trend of payday weekend being busy, the next couple quietening down then back to payday weekend it’s busy again. There is a clear trend that socially, payday weekend hits and you go out. My visits to the pubs and restaurants have been with one other so our bills have been what I would consider low, but looking around families or groups of friends are sat in groups of 4 to 6. The bigger the group, the greater pressure there is socially, to consume more alcohol than you actually want to. In this particular restaurant a garlic bread starter, two pasta dishes and two pints of premium lager comes in at just under £50! That is without even taking into consideration pre/ post meal drinks in the pub. Per weekend for the last few weekends I have spent excessive amounts of money on a sack full of calories that my body didn’t require, which leads on to my next point.

What is actually in the food and drink I have been buying? So as an endurance athlete, the idea is to make the body use less energy performing movements, allowing an individual to travel further on the same energy. I have selected pasta dishes because these are high in carbohydrates, and cheap. Most other people were eating pasta based meals or pizza breads there weren’t many people eating lean meats and seasonal veggies. This type of meal appeals to people because of its price tag, not much else. My own mentality would be that cheap food equals more beer tokens, so theres many out there who will share that same mentality.

This week gone by I have (or will have by the time this has been published) completed in excess of 10 hours training with a combination of swimming, cycling, running and lifting weights. Despite this, my weight on each Monday morning has been 90kg, give or take a few ounces so in terms of my goal, I’m not breaking any pots
with progress. Most people who exercise or train get around 3 hours a week in, tops. remember back to the calorie deficit article? Well carbohydrates have 4kcal per gram and if your body doesn’t use the energy you’re going to gain weight. However I failed to mention that alcohol, has 7kcal per gram and your body can’t use these calories as energy they will be stored as fat first which will hinder your weight loss goals. I did say you can’t out train a bad diet and if I can’t with 10 hours of training it surely won’t happen with less! So now I’m 10 hours into myself, a fair bit of money out of pocket and walking round no fitter or leaner than I was weeks ago. So far a waste of time and money!

Adding to the empty pocket I have, drinking alcohol and eating abundances of calories my body doesn’t need leaves me feeling sluggish, irritable, fatigued and dehydrated. Even though alcoholic drinks are made with water they do very little for hydration. Infact, they do very little all round. Your liver and kidneys have to work overtime to cleanse your system, your digestive system has to work overtime to break down the alcohol and process it out of your body which leads to the dehydration. Being dehydrated will mean your hormones wont get regulated properly and this leads to the irritable sluggish person one becomes. Even indulging in this ‘treat’ on a Friday, Saturday or BOTH leaves me feeling deflated to even think about training on Monday, it has even been known to result in missed sessions, which does annoy me but I have been the author of my own misfortune, or at least am victim to the consequences of MY actions. I am at the point now where it feels ‘normal’ to do this week in, week out. I’m ‘behaving’ all week with food and alcohol consumption and ‘beerhaving’ over the weekend which for reasons above (and thats only a few reasons) isn’t really cutting it. The fact I have now mentally conditioned myself to do it, and it is acceptable because I work hard and have behaved all week is just another hurdle I will have to overcome when it comes to not doing it.

Ironically, I know personally I can’t keep this routine up and I don’t particularly want to. It has cost me a small fortune and the money could have been spent on something which would benefit me long term or make me genuinely happy for longer, not something that made me ‘happy’ for now. The time I have missed out on training, or extra time it is now going to take getting out of this habit I will never get back, it’s gone forever. Short term my body functions have been disrupted and my hormonal balance is all over the place. Long term I would be at risk of several health issues and lifestyle diseases such as Obesity, Diabetes, Depression, High Blood Pressure, Heart Disease, Liver Disease. Where do you stop?

My point is all of these mentioned issues can be avoided and improved, or the risks of falling victim to them, significantly reduced. Ultimately, my personal goal of achieving my desired weight for racing, not to mention my performance, my motivation levels and my general outlook on things have all suffered because I couldn’t say no. Don’t give up what you want most (usually lose weight for a wedding/holiday/ health, in that order), for what you want right now (usually drink and bad food). Spend your money on things that will make you healthier and happy for ever as opposed to happy until the next time.

So, if some of the above resonates with you, then you might be a weekend wobbler. We are putting together a series of weekend recipes that are alternatives to the usual takeaways but just as tasty.