How To Tackle ‘Red Flag’ Days

As a wise Benjamin Franklin once said “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail” That’s why identifying and planning for ‘red flag’ or over indulgent days (which EVERYONE has) is a vital step to keep your health and fitness on track. Fit Tim explains.

Like virtually everyone, I have social occasions –  at least one a week. These often involve the offerings of alcohol, excessively rich and calorific foods and plenty of them.

Once upon a time I would use ultimate will power and say ‘NO’ to everything, but after a few years of this self-flagellation, I realised that the path to ultimate health and happiness is not denying yourself every pleasure that comes along, even if it does have excess calories.

I still don’t drink much alcohol but when it comes to food I’ll eat just about anything you put in front of me – tempura (sounds healthier than ‘deep-fried’ stuff), ice cream, anything with great flavour!

As guilt and shame are negative feelings leading to even more negative thoughts and behaviours, I completely let go of guilt. To avoid the shame and guilt I always balance it out with plenty of exercise and never overindulge two days in a row.

The truth is, we human beings all have times when we fall off the wagon, whether it be birthdays, holidays or just a big weekend.

But don’t beat yourself up, here are some tips for you to enjoy all of the positives of overindulging and socialising without any of the negative after affects.

Also read: 10 Ways to De-Stress Quickly

Set yourself up for success

The main reason I don’t feel guilty about my overindulgences is because I always take steps the day of the celebration to avoid a total kamikaze health mission.

Central to the 12WBT philosophy is planning a week’s exercise and nutrition ahead. This includes organising your training and nutrition around ‘red flag’ disruptions – all the usual kind of things that disrupt you from regular training and eating well.

Knowing myself well I know I’m prone to overeating at parties, and even when it’s reasonably healthy food, overeating is still overeating! So if I don’t know what the menu is (always try to check ahead of time if possible), then I have a protein shake before I go, this makes it so much easier to stick to a limit of five canapés and two substantial dishes. While I still overindulged the pre-planned tactic and cap saved me from feeling like a total stuffed turkey and falling into a anti-social food coma.

The day of the party I do my own SSS, which as all 12WBT members know is a Super Saturday Session. This involves 60 to 90 minutes of intensive training, I might do three circuits of body weight exercises at the Bondi beach outdoor gym, followed by a 40 minute, all-out beach run. If I can’t fit this session in the day of a party, I’d train the day after.

This isn’t just a feel good exercise; there is science behind why I do this. You have a window of time to play with before your body stores fat. Fat comes from surplus calories that aren’t being burned off.

Studies have shown that an intense exercise session can elevate your metabolism so you continue to burn calories for a period after the workout has finished, aka the ‘after burn’. By doing this workout, the food I consume at the party is busy repairing my muscles from the resistance training or burning off into thin air with my temporarily elevated metabolism. As long as my metabolism stays high the guilt also leaves my mind too.

If you can’t train the day of your event then you can also benefit from a good training session the day after. Personally I prefer to get it out of the way so I can have a good sleep in the morning after!

So be prepared, have a game plan, get your metabolism firing pre-party or the day after, and you should be all set to enjoy yourself.

Quick tips to takeaway

  • Ahead of time identify red flag days/occasions and try not to have them back-to-back.
  • Always make a plan ahead of time and strategies of how to stick to them, e.g. drive to certain parties to avoid excessive drinking, have a vegetable soup in the fridge for dinner after a big lunch or leave the party by 10pm to avoid feeling exhausted the next day.
  • Don’t arrive to cocktail parties and functions starving! Set yourself a limit of how many canapés (if any) you are going to eat. Stick to that number!
  • Do an intensive exercise session on the day of a party or the day after to burn off any extra calories you may consume.



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