This weekend was a super busy one for us. We had competitions, two parties and a lunch with friends. I got to thinking about food and what I would be eating (like I always do)! I knew there were going to be many opportunities to eat a ton of unhealthy and tempting food. So I needed a plan. What was I going to indulge in and what was my plan to prevent it from getting out of hand?
Everyone likes to relax on the weekends, get together with friends or family, maybe go out to eat or go to a party. That’s great! That’s what weekends should be for. Some people however see the weekend as a time to totally let go, throw caution to the wind and eat and drink whatever they want. Unfortunately this can lead to unwanted weight gain, sometimes as much as 2-8 pounds. Usually if you go right back to your everyday healthy habits, most of this added weight will come off again within a few days. A lot of it is due to high sodium content in the foods you are consuming and often adding alcohol to the mix.
Often I get the question, “ Why can’t I lose those last 5 or 10 pounds?”
My client then proceeds to tell me how strict they have been with their eating plan and exercising almost every day. When you dig a little deeper, you find out they weren’t quite as good as they thought, especially on the weekends. When you are in your regular routine of work, family care, exercise and weekly activities you eat pretty healthy and regular meals and snacks. Then the weekend comes along and you don’t feel like cooking so you order takeout - not so healthy. Then you feel like you deserve to relax so you have a few beers or a few glasses of wine. Again, this is not a terrible thing, but it does add a bunch of calories. If you are like most families, you have some sort of event, maybe a sporting event that lasts several hours or a family birthday party or maybe an evening out with friends. Most people view these activities as “special occasions,” and feel like they can eat and drink anything they want. Well what I have found is that there is often a “special occasion” or maybe a few of them each week. If you abandon your healthy eating plan for every special occasion that comes up, you wind up negating any weight loss during the week and if you are lucky, you maintain. Many people find this way of eating leads to a gradual increase in weight. Maybe just pound or two a month, but over time, that works out to 10-20 pounds a year.
So what’s happening here is you are losing a pound or two during the 5-day week and gaining them right back over your 2-day splurge. Totally not fair that it’s that much easier to gain than it is to lose I know. But it’s true. That’s why you can’t lose those last 5 or 10 unwanted pounds.
So the next question is how do I prevent this weekend weight gain? Well the answer must seem easy although not what you wanted to hear. You are probably wondering if you have to eat healthy every day and every meal for the rest of your life? No more birthday cake, no more wine, no more movie popcorn or candy? What about Grandma Jen’s Mississippi Mud Cake? No worries! There is room for treats! There’s always room for indulgence, but you have to plan for it carefully so you don’t negate all your hard work eating right and exercising during the week.
STRATEGIES TO AVOID WEEKEND WEIGHT GAIN
Make a plan for your “special events.” Know ahead of time what you are going to allow yourself to splurge on and when. Plan on making that day an exercise day so you burn a few extra calories knowing you are going to consume a few extra.
Make it really worth your while. In other words, don’t eat it if you don’t love it. Just because there’s an opportunity to have a piece of cake doesn’t mean you have to eat it. If cake’s not one of your favorite things, maybe you pass on the cake and have an extra glass of wine.
You can have one special indulgence a week and not gain weight. One time probably won’t derail weight loss either. However, if you have book club on Tuesday and then a family birthday party on Saturday and a special brunch on Sunday, that’s too much. You are going to have to pick and choose. Which event would have something that you really love to indulge in. Again you are learning new eating habits and you are going to have to learn to attend events and not indulge every single time. Pick one, you can’t have all three and still lose weight. This is a lifestyle change! It’s for life!
Probably the best strategy is to just plain stay away from the food area. Get yourself a plate (a small plate), fill it once and be done. Spend your time mingling and talking to people. Also, if you have a drink in hand (doesn’t have to be alcohol) it makes it harder to eat. Don’t just mindlessly pick at a buffet of bad food. You will have no idea of how much you are consuming and I can guarantee you it will be more than you intentioned!
The bottom line here is don’t undo all the good stuff you have done during the week. You have burned a lot of calories exercising and made many good food choices. Keep that ball rolling and you will continue to lose weight. Make those weekly healthy habits carry through the weekend. You will find that the more consistent you are, the better you feel. As you get to the point where you are eating much healthier than in the past, your body will start to reject bad food. You won’t have the cravings you used to have and you will actually start to crave healthy food. This may sound absurd to some of you who have been eating junk for a while and think you love it, but trust me it does happen. Be consistent, make good choices and allow yourself an indulgence once a week. 90% on, 10% whatever you want! It works. You don’t feel deprived, you feel better, you look better and best of all you live healthy.