Don’t get me wrong. There are plenty of times where doing nothing is a TERRIBLE idea.
A student yells, “SHUT UP, IDIOT!” at me in the middle of my Algebra lesson.
Your arm catches on fire at a bonfire.
An intoxicated friend decides to try to drink a fifth of Jack in one huge gulp.
A stranger at the bar pats your wife on the behind.
In those instances, you must DO SOMETHING.
And you must DO IT NOW.
These scenarios call for immediate attention. They must be handled and dealt with in a timely fashion. Like, as soon as possible.
Especially the last one. Man up and stomp the dude’s face. Please.
But staying on top of your training and diet is a different beast altogether.
Your results from any diet and fitness plan, this one included, mostly are a function of one thing: compliance.
Every single person who has ever walked the planet has something called a “BMR” – a basal metabolic rate.
This is your “lay in bed all day” amount of calories needed to maintain your current weight.
Every person also has something called a “TDEE” – your total daily energy expenditure.
This is your “daily routine” amount of calories needed to maintain your current weight.
Assuming you don’t lie in bed all day, and you actually go to work, once you find your TDEE, you set your calorie amounts based on your goals.
Want to lose weight? Eat less than your TDEE.
Want to gain weight? Eat more than your TDEE.
Simple as that. It’s biochemistry.
Did you estimate your TDEE? Set your macros lower than that? Are you losing weight?
If you answered “yes, yes, no” to those questions, then guess what? You overestimated your TDEE.
But you’ve gotta be sure you hit your numbers dead on.
How on earth could you really know if the numbers are working unless you hit them daily?
And trust me, if you really hone in, and you hit your numbers dead on, in around 3 weeks, your jaw will drop when you step on the scale.
It works that well.
In this case, the best thing to do is: NOTHING!
At least in the general sense of the program.
Tighten up? Be more on point? Stop snacking?
Stop reaching for little cheats now and again because, “It’s working anyways”? Sure.
But in essence, change nothing.
It is so insanely difficult to do nothing at times.
We are programmed, wired even, to do something when we are faced with a scenario.
Our workplaces train us to think that way.
Something happens. Fix it.
But with diet and exercise, many, many, MANY times there’s nothing to fix.
You go into the weight room on bench press day.
Last week you got 185×7.
You are going for 185×8.
You’re pretty confident. You step up to the plate, ready to go, unrack………….and promptly get 3 reps.
Wondering what went wrong. Frustrated. Confused.
You got 7 last time, how on earth did you get 4 LESS REPS?!?
Upset and aggravated, you head over to the incline bench.
You got 165×6 last time.
You’re determined to get something out of this workout.
You get under the bar……………..and can barely muster 2 reps.
You think the workout is completely wasted.
What a total and utter embarrassment.
After checking your workout logs, you realize these were your approximate reps FROM TWO MONTHS AGO! You just lost 8 weeks worth of progress.
So, what do you do?
The biggest mistake you must avoid is doing more work.
You instantly think, “I lost a bunch of reps. I need to punish myself. Kill myself. I’m gonna do 15 more sets of bench followed by dumbbell bench followed by dips followed by cable flys followed by the peck deck followed by push ups. Then I’ll be stronger FOR SURE.”
But you would be wrong – you literally need to do nothing.
Suck it up and walk out of the gym.
Has your workout given you solid results over the long haul? Then don’t change a thing.
If you put yourself through a grueling, intense workout to “make up” for the strength you lost, you will do one thing only:
Grind yourself further into the ground,
making it more difficult for you to recover
given your lowered calorie amounts,
and making you even WEAKER
the next time you walk into the gym.
You actually have one other option: changing your workout and doing LESS the next time.
When in a calorie deficit, you should be doing 10 TOTAL SETS, max.
And that’s it. Even less, perhaps.
And of those 10 sets, about 3-4 sets should be taken to failure.
Any more than that, and your calories won’t allow you to recover.
So, if you REALLY feel compelled to change something next time, then eliminate all the accessories.
Do just your bench and your incline the next week.
Give your body the ability to recover and grow.
You plan a weekend vacation. Things have been going great.
You’re leaner and stronger than ever before.
You tell yourself you will stay on point.
And then you proceed to eat and drink yourself stupid for 48 hours.
You come back home. Step on the scale. And you weigh 15 more pounds.
15 pounds in a weekend?!? How is that possible?
That’s like 10 weeks of progress totally gone!
Your once visible abs have completely disappeared.
You feel bloated, angry, defeated, and frustrated by your lack of control. So how do you fix it?
By lowering my calorie amounts drastically, that’s what!
And I’ll workout for 3 hours per day until my weight is normal again!
Cardio, cardio, cardio! Circuit training! 40-hour fasts! I’ll get that blasted number down!
Once again, totally wrong way of thinking.
Was your plan solid before?
Were you losing weight before?
Then you’ll lose weight again.
And 15 pounds? 15 pounds is roughly 26,000 calories OVER MAINTENANCE per day for both days of your binge.
Did you really eat that much food? I doubt it.
It’s physically impossible to do.
Your body isn’t used to eating or drinking those amounts. Your carb and sodium amounts were probably sky high, and you are retaining a WHOLE LOT of water weight.
Did you gain some fat? Sure.
Probably more like 2 or 3 pounds, max.
Remember, even 3 pounds would be 5,200 calories over maintenance.
So to gain 3 pounds of fat, you’d need to eat around 8,000 calories on each of the two days.
Possible, sure, but even that would be really difficult to do.
So what should you do? Nothing. Nothing at all.
Use the extra calories in the weight room.
Keep your routine exactly the same, but push yourself as hard as possible on your max sets.
The increased calories should boost all your lifts.
Wait a week. The water weight will come off. Your scale weight will normalize and steady itself.
But unless you’re a contest bodybuilder who needs to have a certain look in the near future, don’t worry about it.
And if you are a contest bodybuilder, you are very stupid for planning a trip so close to your competition.
You never train for today. You never diet for today. You train and diet for the long haul.
If this week didn’t work out too well, there’s 51 more weeks of the year to do better.
There’s no need to reinvent the wheel. Stick to it. Keep on keepin’ on.
Scenario 2 is a personal one for me. That was me this past weekend.
I went from defined, visible abs on Friday morning to a blob of undefined bloat on Sunday.
It was so unbelievably difficult not to change my calorie amounts, do some cardio, increase my workouts, etc.
When left to make our own decisions, rationality is difficult.
We tend to be reactive rather than proactive.
10 of the 15 pounds from the weekend have already come off. My guess is around 2 or 3 more will leave in the next few days.
I’ll bet I did gain 2-3 pounds of actual fat. But it’ll be off soon enough. I ain’t worried about it.
Plus, I can just call it “bulking”, right?
And by the way, I’ve had many of those scenarios over the past two years of intermittent fasting.
And the correct answer is ALWAYS to DO NOTHING.
If you’ve followed my blog, you’ve probably read my transformation story.
I included a very embarrassing picture in the story.
Bloated and huge with not much to physically be proud of. It was from a lake trip, two years ago.
Well, I took a new picture on this lake trip. I like it much, much better.
Can’t wait to add an August 2015 picture.
Enjoy the rest of your summer.