Does this sound familiar?
From Monday to Thursday, you follow a strict eating and exercise routine. You wake up early to go for a run, or hit the gym straight after work. You have rotate between healthy breakfast, lunch and dinner meals, that are portion controlled and include plenty of fresh fruits and veggies. You stay strong and resist the biscuit jar, and the block of chocolate in your pantry.
Then Friday comes, and because you’ve been ‘good all week’, you go hard at after-work drinks, consuming a little too much alcohol and fatty foods. Saturday morning comes and you have a headache, so you sleep in, your partner makes you breakfast – pancakes, you run a few errands, skip lunch, then back up the previous night with another night of rich food and cocktails. You miss your morning exercise class again on Sunday, instead meeting your friends for brunch (eggs benedict of course!), and indulge in row or two of chocolate in-front of the TV.
Even if you don’t ‘let loose’ to this extreme, most people have different eating and drinking patterns on weekends. And, if that’s the case, your weekends may indeed be sabotaging your weight loss goals. If you think about it, that’s 2-3 days of not sticking with your healthy eating and exercise plan – nearly half a week!
If your weekends are holding you back, follow these four tips for staying on track:
- Create some ‘boundaries’, using the 80/20 rule, or the 90/10 rule
Most people understand that eating healthy 100% of the time is not necessary – you can afford to ‘cheat’ a little and still lose weight. However, things can easily get out of hand if you don’t set some boundaries, especially on weekends.If you’re really serious about losing weight, we suggest using the 90/10 rule. It allows you to indulge for 10% of meals and snacks each week. So, if you generally eat 3 meals and 3 snacks per day, 10% equates to 2 main meals and 2 snacks (or ‘extras’) per week. You can save these allowances for the weekend, and enjoy an entrée pasta with dessert on Friday night, and tapas with a glass of wine on Saturday night. For the rest of the week and weekend, whether you are eating at home or out, stick to healthy choices. For example, poached eggs on one slice of multigrain with spinach for brunch, a chicken salad for lunch, and grilled fish and salad for dinner.
If you have a more relaxed approach to weight loss, try the 80/20 rule, which allows for 4 main meals and 4 snacks per week.
- Don’t go ‘too hard’ during the week
You don’t need to starve yourself, or eat ‘tasteless’ chicken and broccoli on repeat, in order to be healthy or lose weight. If you’re feeling deprived, hungry and frustrated with your weekday meal choices – it’s no wonder you’re splashing out on weekends. Try to prepare meals that are healthy, balanced AND satisfying. Make sure you don’t skip meals, or cut out key nutrients – especially if you love them (i.e. carbs). Mix up your choices, so you don’t get bored. If you can find a healthy eating routine that you enjoy, you will reach the weekend stronger, and more resistant to temptation!
- Have a ‘game plan’ for alcohol
If you’re trying to stick with a healthy routine, alcohol can present many problems,. Firstly, it is high in calories, especially in the form of a cocktail or mixed drink. Secondly, it can interfere with your ‘best intentions’ to eat healthy – you may end up chowing down a Macdonald’s burger before even realizing it! Lastly, the hangover you’re left with can affect your food choices and exercise plans the next day.So what are we to do? Don’t fret, alcohol can still be included in a healthy diet for weight loss. We suggest you stick with lower-calorie choices, like wine, low carb beers and spirits – either neat or with low calorie mixers. Know your limit, the place where you feel ‘happy’ but still in control, and stick to it – no excuses! For example, you should have enough willpower to resist the fried food, or the drink that will tip you over the edge. For some, this limit may be one drink, or three. On that note, try not to go beyond three drinks. If it helps, make your intentions clear and tell a friend – that way you’ll be accountable.
And remember, exercise is a great way to shake off your day-after grogginess! Even a gentle walk is better than moaning on the coach!
- Make the most of your mornings
There is a real temptation to sleep in past 10am after a long, hard working week. However, by cutting your day short, you may have no time left to work on your health goals. This is especially true if your weekends are jam-packed with errands and social commitments, leaving little time for you.We suggest you get up a little earlier – even if that means setting an alarm. Get your chores and family time out of the way, so that you have a free hour or two for exercise, food shopping and/or preparation (or vice versa). It may seem like a sacrifice at the start, but you’ll feel better for it – we promise!