7 Weekend Habits That Sabotage Your Weight Loss

Article posted in: Lifestyle
weight loss

You work hard to maintain a healthy lifestyle. You eat right, you exercise regularly and you plan your entire week around your weight loss goals. But somehow, it all comes undone when the weekend rolls around. And when you step on the scale on Monday morning, you’ve gained back the precious pounds you fought so tirelessly to lose.

What’s to blame? Probably a couple of bad habits…

Do any of these weekend weight loss blunders sound familiar?

1. You Drink Too Much.

Why is it that whenever we’re in the company of our friends and family the drinks seem to pour themselves? Well, it could be because the drinks are pouring themselves, as research from a 2016 Old Dominion University study indicates. Not only are more drinks consumed on the weekends (as compared to weekdays), but weekend drinking increases were solely related to social expectancies, not tension-reduction expectancies (which were noted on weekdays). Your friends might be bringing you a second, third or fourth beer. Or, it might just be that you lost track. Either way, you consume a lot of calories when you drink—and even more when the munchies hit. So here’s what you can do: Before you head off to that party this weekend, load up on nutritious foods and water so you feel full. While you’re there, remind yourself of how many times you went to the gym and ate healthy foods during the week so your weight loss goal stays top-of-mind. Shoot for one drink. And stretch that beer, cocktail or glass of wine by sipping on water in-between drinks.

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2. You Go Out to Eat.

According to the National Restaurant Association, eight in 10 consumers say dining out with family and friends is a better use of their leisure time than cooking and cleaning up. Weekends = “leisure time.” According to a 2009 Gallup poll on consumer spending, the most popular day to eat out is Saturday. (Friday is the second most popular.) There are two major challenges with restaurants: One, you don’t know exactly how your food is prepared and what calories lie therein; Two, the portion sizes are two and three times the recommended serving size. Both factors add up, as researchers at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill found in 2003. The average American—two years and older—consumes 82 more calories per day on each weekend day than on weekdays. Adults ages 19 to 50 eat 115 more calories per day over the weekend. Here’s how you stay on track at restaurants: Choose lean chicken or fish dishes, vegetable-heavy salads and stir-fries. Double check preparation methods with the server to ensure your food isn’t fried or doused in mayo or butter. Third, take home leftovers. Section your plate into halves or thirds before you start eating so you know when to stop.

3. You Have Dessert.

Holidays. Birthday parties. Ice cream shop visits. Saturday morning donuts. People come together on the weekends and perhaps the best way to celebrate togetherness is with food—especially foods that make us feel good. Desserts do this: They comfort, they soothe and they say “special occasion,” which means weekend for lots of people. Unfortunately, desserts are loaded with sugar, fat and empty calories that can absolutely contribute to weekend weight gain. Even if you tell yourself you can only have one small piece of birthday cake, you may have already consumed your daily recommended max of sugar (25 grams a day for women; 37.5 grams for men) that day in ketchup, your morning coffee or sandwich bread. The solution? Have a piece of cake if you really want it—you’re more likely to stay on track by enjoying foods you love in moderation. But maybe skip the ice cream on top. Or have water instead of the glass of wine you’re offered. If you know you’re going somewhere where dessert will be offered, plan your day accordingly.

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4. You Don’t Exercise.

Maybe you spend your weekend catching up on sleep. Or maybe you try to fit in all the things you couldn’t during the week. Understandable. While you do burn calories sleeping, shopping and doing things like folding the laundry, those tasks are just not enough to burn off the extra calories we consume on the weekends. When you’re trying to achieve weight loss, do your best—even on the weekend—to exercise for 30 minutes. When you’re maintaining weight, it’s important to exercise for 60 minutes daily. Workout buddies are much easier to come by on weekends and “exercise” could be doing things you actually enjoy and don’t have time for during the week, like golf (be sure to walk) or going on a long bike ride or hike.

5. The Fair’s in Town.

Summer at the county fair means one thing: Food. Probably fried food. Worse yet: Deep-fried dessert. Whether it’s the county fair, the weekend game or a hometown festival, these food extravaganzas are almost always held on weekends and they’re fun to attend. By all means: Go to the fair and have fun. But load up on healthier options beforehand so the smell of that bacon-wrapped turkey leg (with as much as 2,360 calories and 77 grams of fat!) doesn’t tempt you. Better-for-you fair foods include dry-roasted peanuts, beef jerky or grilled corn on the cob (have them hold the butter). After you eat, walk around a bit to burn off some of those calories.

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6. You Don’t Have a Weekend Routine.

Most of our Monday through Friday routines revolve around work or school. Maybe you get up, go to the gym, eat a healthy breakfast, go to work, eat a healthy lunch (and snacks you preselected for the day), come home and make a healthy dinner, then clean up. Repeat. It’s not easy to maintain a healthy diet and weight loss routine during the week, but after awhile, your habits start to become the norm. So when we’re home on the weekends, we wake up late. We eat a big, leisurely breakfast. Things seem to spiral away from “routine” with every passing minute. Do your best to establish healthy weekend routines that include exercise and eating nutritiously so those habits, too, become the norm. Maybe you wake up late and make an egg white frittata for breakfast. Then go on a hike with your family. On Sunday, spend an hour or two preparing a special healthy meal and maybe even the week’s meals. Even if you have weekend plans and obligations, you can probably find an hour or two to cook something healthy or get active.

7. You’re Bored.

And you’re home. Surrounded by food. What happens? We eat to distract ourselves from being bored, as researchers at the University of Ireland learned in a 2015 study. One interesting takeaway: When presented with exciting, healthy foods, participants took the bait, suggesting the urge to scarf down unhealthy snacks and foods (which participants happily ate) can be beaten as long as we surround ourselves with enticing, nutritious options. Here’s an idea: Next weekend, go to the grocery store (or farmer’s market!) and buy three ingredients from the produce section you don’t usually purchase. When you’ve got an hour or two to kill, research recipes that put those ingredients to delicious use, make them, and enjoy them.