Stop Doing Too Much, Too Soon
I am very qualified to speak on the subject of last-minute work. Throughout schooling and university, I wouldn’t even consider starting an assignment until the last 48 hours before it was due.
The subjects that I enjoyed and knew well were a breeze. More often than not, it was just about regurgitating the information you already knew into the right format, and dropping a few references in between.
It was the subjects that weren’t as interesting or well-understood that were a little more tricky. It’s hard to learn an entire course in a matter of days, or write a lab report on an experiment you did eight weeks ago, particularly when a weekend away is calling.
For many, the same goes for body composition improvements. The temptation is to leave it to the last minute (or month) and then decide they want to make significant changes, such as dropping 5-10kg for 'beach season'.
This is needless. If only they had gotten started in September or October, they would have been able to remove less food, exercise less frequently and overall stick to a less-drastic approach.
This approach is often accompanied by the 'kitchen sink' methodology of training and nutrition. Someone might go from exercising once per week and eating without guidelines, to six exercise sessions and 1600 kcal per day, from the very next week. If they can stick to it, they will get results for a short period of time. However, most people find this too drastic a change, and cannot complete the protocol.
In the end, many people give up and swear that they won't do the same thing next time. Sounds just like those assignments...
The Benefits of Extra Time
Establish what works for you
Having a longer period of time allows you/us to personalise your approach to both training and nutrition. I can look at your recent history combined with every energy-estimation equation in the world, to provide an starting point for your goals. However, these are all based off different theories and is by no means an exact science - inevitably, we will always alter a component of training and nutrition within the first 2-4 weeks off a program.
This is not a bad result and certainly doesn't mean the program was wrong to begin with. We know now more about where your body is at and how much fuel it requires to move in the direction we want. This might take two weeks to establish (and weight might stay exactly the same) but this information will benefit you greatly with regards to achieving your goals.
The problem is, if you only have four weeks to achieve your goal, this has cost you time that you don't have…
More from less
When it comes to adding new training and nutrition protocols to your program, we want to get the maximum result from small changes. If you are planning on working with a coach for 16+ weeks, it would be silly to throw every trick in the book in to the original program. The body is very good at adapting, so we want to keep as many options in the bag as possible, to throw in as required.
Ideally, you should implement one change at a time until the results then begin to plateau. A good example is a new client who hasn’t been exercising or eating well. I would recommend focusing on implementing three training sessions per week, before worrying about food intake.
Clients can lose fat and build muscle just from a few training sessions per week, before nutrition even is considered. At the half-way point of the Body Recomposition Program, many clients won’t have set meal plans, although this depends on their starting point, progress and rate of adaptation.
Maintain a normal life
When you have plenty of time, one slip up won’t ruin your entire diet and everything becomes a lot less stressful. This flexibility allows you to integrate fitness and nutrition strategies into your life, instead of letting them consume your life. This makes it easier to maintain these strategies once the program is completed.
There's no need to live a live of extremes - little exercise and poor eating for 11 months a year and then strict dieting and exercise for the other month. Stringent training and nutrition protocols will take a toll on your professional and private life. You won't want to hang out with anyone (because it might ruin your meal schedule) and they won't want to hang out with you (because of your propensity to talk about to talk about food and then not eat).
Start earlier and be smarter - you'll be OK.
The Sustainability Paradigm
There is a new-age of Nutritionist’s who preach sustainability, which is an excellent goal. However, it is starting to come at the cost of results. You can lose weight quickly and then keep it of with a program that promotes sustainability, sure, the program itself won’t be sustainable, but no weight loss program is!
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The less time you have to achieve your goals, the more drastic your training and nutrition strategies will become. This will make it harder to integrate into your lifestyle, in both the short and long term. Potential results will also be limited in the middle-longer term, as there will be less strategies that can be implemented to elicit change.
So take the time to get started earlier this year. No one has ever regretted starting an assignment earlier and getting it done, but plenty have regretted leaving it late!