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7 Ways to Stay Lean Despite a Crazy Schedule

By Emily Saunders

After a few months of commitment to the Fat Loss Lifestyle, most of us begin to figure out what works for our unique metabolisms, schedules and preferences.  However, just when we begin to think that we have it together something throws a wrench in the way of careful planning and our results trejectory.

Things like pulling an all-nighter, working third shift on call, or an evening that becomes way later than planned can seemingly wreak havoc on our schedules and results. It’s not inflexibility or poor planning, but that we get used to doing things a certain way that we know works and then suddenly something gets in the way.

For example, I have a friend who is a busy high school teacher.  During the Summer she got into a great routine diet and exercise routine and achieved motivating results.  However, now she is back in school on her feet all day long and then waitresses at a busy restaurant until late at night several days per week only to wake up early the next morning and head back to school.  How does one adjust for a new schedule while ensuring continued success?

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I wish I had a tried and true answer that worked for everyone with a particular schedule, but sadly I do not.  Just like some bodies prefer fat over carbs and visa versa, adjusting to a new schedule or adapting to an unforeseen circumstance takes practice.  Below are some tips that can help to readjust your formula for late nights and/or very long days. 

  1.  If you are going to be awake much later than normal keep eating every 3 hours.  Depending on the mental clarity and activity level required these meals may consist of just protein, protein and fat, or protein and carbs.  For non-active activities like studying protein and fat are best while protein and carbs are best for things like waiting tables or running around a busy hospital.  If you are going to have to wait more than a few hours without the opportunity to eat try a scoop of casein protein or cottage cheese.  Casein releases more slowly than whey protein helping to fuel your body for a longer period of time.
  2. Just like always, practice makes better.  As you adjust to the new schedule check in with your energy, cravings and hunger.  If you are having intense cravings or feel extremely lethargic then your body likely needs more fuel.
  3. If your schedule is unpredictable make sure to keep a stash of clean snacks close by.  Single servings of nutbutter, protein bars, almonds, and apples can be life savers.  Leave a few in your car, backpack, purse, and/or desk drawer so that you are always prepared.
  4. Stay hydrated.  Maybe even more important than food, your body needs water when it is tired, drained, and over worked.  If you are not in the position that you can sip all day or night then chug whenever you have a free moment.  Consume as much water as possible.
  5. Cut yourself some slack.  Even the most prepared and committed clean eaters have moments and days that catch us off guard. Something is better than nothing, even if you have to make the best choice available in a greasy late night cafeteria.  Do the best you can with what you have available then learn and move on to the next day.  If you are having a particularly difficult week schedule wise then maintenance is a reasonable and honorable goal.
  6. If you work late or third shift on a regular basis try to keep your meal schedule as regular as possible.  You may have your “breakfast” at noon and dinner at midnight or later but following the same balance of macronutrients during YOUR regular day will help keep you on track.  During later days you may end up eating 7 small meals rather than  5 or 6 in order to support the extra energy demands of the body.
  7. Prioritize Sleep.   Even one night without a good night’s rest can throw us off.  Hormone levels can quickly become unbalanced triggering all sorts of negative effects from compromised immunity to intense cravings.   Unfortunately we cannot really “catch up” on sleep over the weekend so make sure to go to bed an hour early for a few nights following a late night to counteract these effects.  If you find yourself working nights regularly try to maintain the same sleep ritual in preparation for your sleep hours.

Unfortunately, many of us face days, weeks, or even months of schedule turmoil that threaten our results and our happy place.  Our fast paced 24/7 culture makes it that much more difficult.  Often times we have no choice but to suck it up and keep moving late into the night.  Accept that this will sometimes happen and try to allow yourself some flexibility while remembering your FLL foundation.

Remember, success in fat loss along with most things in life is based on long term commitment, accepting and embracing each step of the journey, and sticking to the basics. Good luck! ox Em

Related: 5 Ways to Break Out of a Workout Rut

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