Have a cheat meal, not a cheat weekend
Do you work really hard all week long on your wellness goals, just to go backwards over the weekend? A recent study showed that people tend to weigh more on Monday mornings. How frustrating is it to commit to meal prepping, eating healthy meals all week long, maybe fitting in a little exercise and then between Friday happy hour and Sunday Brunch we go all out on “treating ourselves” only to ruin all of our efforts from the week before?
How can you stay committed yet still have some fun during the weekend? If you don’t allow yourself to have some fun and eat some “normal” food, you likely will fall off your program in the long run. Let’s consider a few strategies you can utilize that may help bring a bit of balance to your week so you don’t sabotage all that hard work.
The easiest place to start would be by planning out your weekend and all the social events and interactions that will give you an opportunity to have a little "cheat". If you have 4 social engagements over the weekend, pick half of them that will be the most fun to try new food and drinks and indulge. Meaning, you will have to pull back and limit the indulgence on the other two, but not totally throw in the towel on fun and living it up. On those occasions where you know you will want to explore with a new pasta or fancy drink or dessert, do just that, and have fun, enjoy it, no guilt. On the other two occasions, still have fun, but mix in a salad or a veggie side and maybe skip the fluffy drink and try a new herbal tea blend or kombucha. Use this time to explore and find new healthier foods that become your new favorites. The number one strategy both of us at Sage use is to preview the menu online before arriving so we know exactly what we are going to order. This helps to eliminate the temptation to choose something that is not the best choice.
Pay attention to your sleep over the weekend. Many of us tend to use the weekend as our chance to build up on and replace sleep from a crazy busy week. Or we simply use the weekend as our time to stay up late and sleep late. However, there is so much research on “social jet lag” that suggests that is exactly what we should not be doing. Social jet lag occurs when you go to bed and wake up later on weekends than during the week; it's associated with poorer health, worse mood, and increased sleepiness and fatigue. Each hour of social jet lag also is associated with an 11% increase in the likelihood of heart disease. I know it is really tempting to stay out late and then stay all cuddled up in bed for multiple extra hours, but that could really be doing you more harm than good. As hard as it is, try to stick to a similar schedule you keep during the week. We typically swing our schedules by about 1- 1 ½ hours later over the weekend. We also might squeeze in a short nap, but not too long or else we don’t sleep well that night.
The weekend is a great time to get the balance of our movement routine for the week. There is a pretty significant tendency to arrive at Friday night exhausted and strung out from the week and then not do any exercise for the whole weekend. When actually this is the perfect time to move and relieve pent up stress and keep the blood flowing and the toxins moving out. Being fit means just moving. There is no right or wrong way to move, just move. Pick something you like to do, something that puts a smile on your face. What a great time to get outside for a walk, run or bike ride! Take that hike you have been thinking about or explore a new class (try class pass for a fun way to experience new studios and programs). Our latest adventure (not necessarily outdoors) we have scheduled is a mediation in a Salt Cave (we will share all the details soon!).
One thing we have all heard more than enough about is self care and how important this is to your overall health. The weekends are the perfect time to indulge in self care!!! If you think about the weekends as the time to eat well, indulge, be social, sleep and take care of yourself, then self care fits right in. Take all that indulgent energy and creativity and move some of it from food and drinks to how you give yourself a little TLC. What does this look like for you? For us, it's finding a new group yoga or barre class, trying a new recipe, going on a hike, driving out to a winery, seeing a new play, taking a hot bath or a steam at the gym. These are the things that we can indulge in. More energy here, less on those chocolate lava cakes after dinner! Just don’t give away all that hard work during the week, to start back at ground zero every Monday morning (or worse!!). It is too hard to get traction and see long term results that way. Balance is what it's all about.