Healthy eating and exercise habits are usually on auto-pilot throughout the workweek, but Friday comes around and many of us tend to let loose by having one too many cocktails, indulging in brunch or other restaurant meals, sleeping in and skipping our workouts. Sound like you? Here are my best tips for how to stay on track over the weekend!
For most people it’s pretty easy to stick with healthy eating and a structured workout routine during the workweek, but for whatever reason the weekends throw us for a loop. When I got back to the office on Monday after an indulgent weekend at the beach, I commiserated with two of my co-workers (who are both trying to lose weight) about how weekends can really set us back on our fitness goals. If you add up all the weekend days in a month (counting Friday, Saturday & Sunday) it’s about 12 days, which is almost HALF OF THE MONTH. So taking off on the weekends means you’re literally taking off 50% of the time, which isn’t ideal if you have a goal set to lose weight or get in shape.
I’m not saying that there isn’t room for some splurges and treats, but it’s important to keep your health goals in mind when making choices over the weekend. Since it is Friday and this is weighing (pun intended) heavy on my mind I thought I would share a few tips for how to stay on track over the weekend… while still enjoying yourself.
- Stay focused and keep with your normal routine – One of the big things that throws us off on the weekend is lack of routine or structure. If that’s the case for you, come up with a weekend routine. Of course, there will be weekends where you don’t follow the routine exactly, but it can be so helpful to add some structure to your weekends. A few ideas: plan to take a specific group fitness class every Saturday morning, have family dinner and board game night on Saturday, carve out a few hours every Sunday for meal prep, have a set time for dinner and go to bed at the same time you normally do during the week.
- Limit your alcohol – A lot of people use alcohol as a way to relax and socialize on the weekends. Having a drink here and there is totally fine, but it’s super important to find other ways to relax and decompress. A few ideas: exercise, catch up with an old friend, read a book at a cozy coffee shop, take a bath, schedule a manicure or a massage. Of course if you do plan to indulge in a few alcoholic beverages, it’s best to drink water or another calorie-free beverage between drinks and don’t get so tipsy that you throw caution to the wind about what’s going into your mouth. I know we all hate this one, but it’s true: studies show that one of the top sources of extra weekend calories is alcohol, so it pays to scale back.
- Eat a healthy breakfast – This is one of my favorite tips for any day of the week! A healthy breakfast starts your metabolism, helps to control your appetite all day and sets the foundation for how the rest of the day will play out. Some healthy, but fun weekend breakfast recipes to try: almond butter stuffed french toast, caramelized onion and red pepper frittata, apple cinnamon baked steel cut oatmeal.
- Stick with the basics – When planning meals for the weekend (whether you’re at home or at a restaurant) load your plate with lean protein, healthy fats, whole grains and lots of fruit and veggies so that you feel satisfied. Many people tend to graze throughout the weekend rather than sitting down for full meals. This practice is fine for some people, but it easily leads to overeating for most!
- Be smart when dining out – If you eat out on the weekends, look at the menu for the restaurant online before you go so you can see what healthy options they offer and decide ahead of time what you’re going to order. Other healthful tips include skipping the bread basket, starting with a salad or soup, and either splitting your main entrée or packing up half of it to take home for another meal.
- Keep a food journal – This is another one of my favorite tips. Writing down what you eat is the most accurate way to hold yourself accountable and ensure you’re not sabotaging your diet over the weekend. All those small bites and sips that you quickly forget about add up!
- Find healthy ways to indulge – Do you crave pizza every Friday night? No worries, you can make a healthy version, like this cauliflower pizza or these portobello pizzas. The same goes for desserts… try these avocado truffles, healthy no bake cookies or this chocolate banana ice cream if you need a chocolate treat.
- Take advantage of weekend farmers markets – I might be a dork, but going to the farmers market on Saturday morning with Isaac and Olive is one of my weekend highlights. Farmers markets are normally filled with healthy food choices and make for a fun weekend activity.
- Beware of free food – Often times free food (like pizza and cake at a birthday party or random grocery store samples) can sabotage your efforts to cut out the junk food and sidetrack your goal to make healthier choices. For whatever reason we feel this intense need to eat it because it’s free! By only eating food you buy for yourself, it will help you stay clear of the temptations. Sometimes I’m a sucker for the free samples at Whole Foods, but overall it’s best to avoid them. Most of the time they aren’t the healthiest of foods and who knows how long they’ve been sitting out or how many people have touched them. When you think about it this way, the free food is way less appetizing.
- Move more – Make the most of the extra free time you have on the weekend and try to squeeze in some sort of workout or physical activity. Getting your friends and family involved in something outdoors can be a fun way to get moving! And remember, exercise doesn’t have to mean going to the gym — walking, hiking, playing sports, gardening, cleaning the house and mowing the grass are all forms of physical activity.
- Use your weekend to plan for the week ahead – The weekends are a great time to plan your healthy meals for the week ahead. Use this meal planning printable, go to the store to get your groceries and do a little meal prep so you’re ready to go on Monday!
- Moderation is key – Eat and enjoy your favorite foods in moderation. Deprivation tends to backfire so if you really want a treat, eat and enjoy it and then move on.
Last but not least, don’t let one setback keep you from working toward your health goals. If you slip-up over the weekend, don’t let it get you down or bring on the mindset of saying I’ve already screwed up, might as well toss in the towel for this weekend start again on Monday. Nope! Just make sure your next meal is a healthy one and keep on going.
Do you have trouble sticking with your goals during the weekend? What are some of your favorite tips to stay on track?