Why work hard eating healthy and exercising all week, only to unravel it on the weekend? There’s nothing wrong with indulging at the end of a successful week… we do! But by changing certain habits that trigger high-fat, high-calorie “food fests,” you can have that cake and lose weight too!
Even just one of these weekend habit fixes can spare you 300 calories a day…
1. Get Quality Sleep
A giant, sauce-soaked fast food burger sounds good to me in exactly one circumstance: when I’m sleep-deprived. Here weekends are supposed to be a time for catching up on sleep, but often we end up doing the opposite. The calorie trap: sleep loss impairs hormone regulation, which would otherwise keep your appetite in check. Under-sleeping is linked with fattening food cravings, in particular. So if you know you’ll be up late on Friday night, avoid making early commitments on Saturday. Your reward: you’ll be tempted by a homemade egg & spinach omelet instead of an Egg McMuffin.
2. Have a “Weekend” Meal/Snack Plan
Once the regimented weekday schedule ends, Saturday and Sunday tend to become diet wildcards. We don’t plan meals, pack lunches and snacks, or have regular access to the water cooler. This can throw hunger and cravings into the danger zone. It’s fine to ditch your weekday plan, but have a weekend strategy, even if it’s a simple one, like: eat more fiber, carry a water bottle, and stash healthy snacks in your bag.
3. Rethink “Rest Day”
Building rest days into your workout schedule is important, but rest doesn’t have to mean “couch potato.” Inactivity and high-calorie food choices often go hand in hand. Exercise is helps put our calories in perspective (as in, “I didn’t do that epic workout just to blow it on a food bender!”). But also, staying active puts us in tune with our bodies and the concept of “eating to fuel.”
Yet another reason to keep moving: physical activity elevates mood, so we don’t need to look for endorphin rushes in the cupboard. Active rest, such as a stroll in the park, will help keep you feeling happy and focused on being healthy. If you do a more rigorous workout, fuel to avoid cravings!
4. Plan Non-Food-Based Social Activities
Social situations are often the biggest calorie trap of all. But it doesn’t need to be that way. Plan activities for your social get-togethers, rather than spending hours cavorting around the table. Talk friends or family into a hike, play badminton or bocce, or whip out a board game to take the focus of a social gathering off of eating. If you’re hosting a party and food is going to be part of it, ask people to bring healthy foods.
Of course you can’t wave all your stress away when Friday hits. But small steps to decompress at the start of the weekend can make a big difference. Like sleep deprivation, stress disrupts our ability to regulate cortisol, and increased cortisol sends us on the hunt for foods high in sugar and fat. Rather than jam-packing your weekend agenda, pencil in some downtime before a big dinner or night on the town. This could help you avoid chowing down. 😉
6. Have One Caloric Beverage Instead of Two
Beverage calories can wreak havoc on the weekend (especially if you’re caffeinating because you didn’t get enough sleep). To keep your daily drinks in perspective, choose your liquid treats in advance. If you’re going to have an afternoon latte, skip orange juice for breakfast. If you’re getting together with friends for a glass of wine, skip the soda or sweetened iced tea at lunch. These can run you 200-300 calories per beverage—yes, even the orange juice! If you just can’t part with your twice-a-day drink ritual, split the portion in half, or go low-calorie (think: IdealBoost).
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