Picture this all too common scenario. Monday rolls around and you’re totally committed to your health and fitness goal. You start the week strong and focused. You are tracking your food, measuring your portions, drinking plenty of water and so on. You’re also moving regularly. You’re completing all your training sessions, reaching your step target etc. You’re thinking “This is a breeze” (Monday to Friday).
Then Saturday rolls around and shit hits the fan! It’s funny, on weekends we generally have more time to ourself as opposed to weekdays when we have work to contend with. So why can it be more challenging on weekends? Well, Monday to Friday we have a routine. We usually have regular morning tea, lunch and dinner times. We tend to train or move same time of the day during the week. However, come the weekend, things can go a little array. We may wake up a little later, eat more sporadically, and maybe slightly less favourable choices. Our movement can be put on hold, even though some movement on the weekend is in our training program. Or sometimes, maybe you just feel like you’ve done well enough during the week that you feel you can relax on the weekend. This can be a big error! Think of it like the old ‘one step forward, two steps back’ scenario. Why work your ass off during the week to let it come undone over the weekend?
Now, I’m not saying we need to be 100% day in and day out because we know that can be extremely unrealistic, but we do need to maintain some aspects of routine over the weekend. Discipline shouldn’t cease between Friday and Monday. You’re eating at your calorie and macronutrient (proteins, fats, and carbohydrates) needs. Even in just two meals eaten out, let’s say a dinner date on Friday and Sunday brunch with friends, you can effectively undo that slight deficit created over the work week. Coupled with eating later into the night, drinking alcohol, and/or mindless snacking due to lack of scheduled mealtimes, it’s easy to see how weight loss can slow under these circumstances.
Too many meals out, too many alcoholic drinks, and too much all-day food grazing instead of structured meals can throw off your health goals quickly. Plus, feeling overstuffed can easily lead to you skipping a workout because you’re too full, sabotaging your goals in another way.
So how can we break this cycle? Because at the end of the day, the ‘5 days good, 2 days bad’ is exactly that. A cycle.
Create a weekend routine. Think of your weekend routine similar to your weekday routine: You generally know what you’re going to do, where you’re going to be, how you’re going to get there. That’s not to say that a structured weekend has to be void of fun, or can’t exist alongside a healthy social life. Some examples include catching a workout every Saturday morning with a friend, meal prepping every Sunday afternoon, or just keeping a consistent wake-up time. Structure and routine breed good habits.
Exercise on the weekends. If you aren’t already, try making exercise a regular part of that weekend routine. Before meeting your friends for brunch, invite them to join you for a yoga, or HIIT class. You’ll get the motivation of the buddy system while also torching some calories. Plus, working out always keeps you more aware of what you’re ‘spending’ those extra calories on. Or, simply pick a brunch or dinner spot that’s a decent distance from your home and walk there and back. The more movement you have going on, the better you’ll feel, and the less likely you are to overindulge.
Track your food. Plan around brunch, social events, and birthday parties to account for the food and drink you want to enjoy. One way to do this is by pre-logging the food you want to have in a tracking app to see where you’ll need to cut back and where you can splurge, while still staying on track with your goals.
Lastly, know your triggers. Overeating triggers can come in the form of people, physical environments, or even emotions. Do you have a particular friend group that’s all about weekend drinking and late-night eats? When you’re overtired and feeling lousy, do you order food to be delivered? If you walk into that one restaurant, will you be face-planting into a pile of carbs and deep-fried goodies within minutes? Rather than trying to muster all your willpower and discipline to avoid overeating in these circumstances, try avoiding the trigger completely so the temptation no longer exists.
So don’t let your weekends undo all your weekday hard work. Keep focused and strong. Stay disciplined. Enjoy your weekends but keep your goals in the back of your mind. Employ these strategies and you’ll see your progress continue on while still maintaining a lifestyle.