Are you a faithful gym-goer and healthy eater during the week, only to fall off the wagon soon as Friday at 5pm hits? It is completely understandable – after all, you have the freedom to sleep late and to operate without a sense of urgency. Maybe you fall off because you find yourself faced with more temptation at restaurants, movie theaters or parties. Perhaps you permit yourself a drink or two…or three…or…well, you know. Weekends may also be full of obligations – kids’ sporting events, housework, chores and general life management – meaning that trips to the gym fall to the bottom of the list.
Weekends do not have to be a nutrition and fitness disaster. A few simple techniques and strategies can help you stay on the wagon, or at least not hit as hard when you do go down.
1) Exercise early. Do not lounge in the morning and “plan” to go to the gym later in the day. Chances are, you will not make it there at all – no matter what you tell yourself. Sleeping a little later and not rushing out the door is okay, just get to the gym before the games, errands and parties begin.
2) Find someone to keep you accountable. Join a running or cycling group or find a workout partner who is counting on you to show up on Saturday or Sunday morning.
3) Do not skip meals. Even if you sleep a little late, still have a morning snack that serves as breakfast. Skipping meals only creates a big appetite that can lead you to make the wrong food choices, especially if you are heading to a party or a restaurant for dinner. If you are on the go all weekend, pack healthy snacks to take with you. I like Lara bars, Mix-1 drinks, bananas, raisins, almonds or even peanut butter sandwiches. Trimming your intake at breakfast and lunch so you can splurge a little at dinner is okay, just make sure it does not leave you too ravenous.
4) Make your weekend activities, well, active. Instead of taking the kids to the movies – maybe you go for a family hike. A night of bowling may not be a huge calorie-scorcher, but it is better than sitting motionless on the couch.
5) Treat yourself once, not every day at every meal. If weekends mean multiple restaurant visits, do your best to order healthfully most of the time. Perhaps Friday OR Saturday OR Sunday you order dessert, or a drink, or that indulgent appetizer. Don’t do it every night.
6) Have friends over to cook a meal rather than eat out. It costs less, everyone pitches in to clean up the mess, and your food will likely be healthier with less added fat, sugar and sodium than a restaurant menu.
7) Stick as close to your normal sleep patterns as possible. Extra late bedtimes and short nights only lead to fatigue which diminishes your enthusiasm for exercise and increases your hunger levels.
Weekends are supposed to be fun and relaxing, so do not let your workouts and food choices become overly stressful. However, do maintain a sense of consciousness and make the best choices you can while still having fun.