How to stop letting your weekends sabotage your healthy week
Updated: Jul 15, 2022
So it’s Friday night and you’ve done a great job on prepping your meals for the week, getting good exercise in, and drinking plenty of water.
Now rolls in the sweet relief of the weekend and all you can think about is that delicious hamburger with fries and an alcoholic drink.
You might think to yourself “I deserve this meal / drink / indulging weekend” because of how well my week went.
I won’t argue with you there because I think we all need to let loose and enjoy indulgences whether that is some ice cream, some whiskey, and some pizza! (Speaking from experience here!)
However many times our weekends can absolutely ruin any progress we’ve made throughout the week. And it’s not something that is inherently conscious, and isn’t something that is easy to truly get a grip over.
What I want to do here today is speak about some tips for how you can better navigate an enjoyable weekend while staying within your goals, while continuing to make the progress you’ve been working hard to achieve!
It’s party time…
I get it, really...once Friday hits for most professionals it’s time to relax, let loose a bit and enjoy some much needed time off.
After waking up early day to day and putting your time and energy into your career, we all need that off switch to counter the constant “on” position most of us are in during the week.
It all starts Friday night with your choice of dinner and drinks.
Obviously it is 100% normal, healthy and fine to go out to eat, enjoy some drinks and truly let go of the stress of the week.
For Britt and I, Friday night is our date night where we will order some delivery or go out to eat, get some drinks (or at least me at the time of this writing due to a little baby growing in Britt’s belly!).
There is no doubt that I’ve overeaten and over drunk what my body really needs at the moment. And while at the moment I’m okay with this, over the long term this can set me up for a rude awakening…
How those weekends can destroy your weeks progress
So you’ve been hitting the gym consistently throughout the week, choosing nutritious meals that have a variety of protein, carbs, fats, and vegetables.
You most likely are in a deficit in terms of caloric intake, and haven’t drank much alcohol during the weeknights.
You were in the zone and focused on making your health, weight, and body an important priority in your life.
This is amazing in itself and should be celebrated.
Just don’t celebrate all weekend…
Let’s use some math to show how easy it is to over eat and indulge on the weekends.
A case study : 45 year old male
Take for example our made up friend here, Bob.
Bob is 45 and works in sales and has a flexible schedule where he can choose when he makes his calls, when he goes into the office and has the ability to exercise 3x Mon-Friday.
He also has the ability to eat 4 home cooked dinners, bring leftovers for lunch, and have a reasonable breakfast either at home or eats out.
Bob’s goal is to lose fat and get a little more lean. He currently weighs about 200lbs and wants to get down to 185lbs. A 15 lb decrease, not a crazy amount but significant!
Doing a few quick calculations his maintenance (to maintain his current weight) level of calories hovers somewhere around 2900 - his goal of losing weight knocks that down to around 2400 each day.
When he is exercising, and eating home cooked meals it’s easy for Bob to stay within those 2400 calories each day. He’s also busier and doesn’t think about eating as much.
Then Friday hits…
Let’s say that Bob goes out to eat on Friday night and orders a dish that is predominantly protein, fat, and carbs. Maybe your typical burger, steak and fries, or pasta dish. This meal alone can probably get into the range of 1000 calories. If he already had breakfast and lunch, he might be hovering right around 2000 calories. Okay great that still works!
Then enter a few drinks...if Bob decides to have 2-3 beers, he’ll add about another 350 calories. Okay so he’s around 2300. Still okay….but what happens when he gets home later. He might dive into some snacks and easily eat another 300-400 calories just in snacks, and maybe 1 or 2 more drinks! Friday night turns into a time of overindulgence.
Then Saturday and Sunday come...since he’s not as busy with work...Bob tends to snack a bit more throughout the day, orders out again...this time it’s pizza because the kids want and it’s easy to do on a Saturday night.
He has a few more drinks on Saturday, and hits over 3500 calories for the day. (which honestly, is probably far less than your typical “indulging” day)
Sunday comes around and it’s football time. Bob enjoys wings, beers, some potato skins...all the yummy snacks that go hand in hand with sitting on a couch watching TV.
Maybe he has less drinks on Sunday, but even 1 or 2 more included in here will keep those calories rising.
Let’s assume that he eats in the range of 3500 total calories, due mostly to the cheese/breed/protein from the football snacks.
So then in those 2 and a half days of weekend time, he had 3500, 3500, and 3300 calories each day.
So over the weekend he had an extra 1500 calories (600, 600, and 400 over this maintenance stage)
During the week he was able to stay consistently at the 2400 number. For 4 full days he was 500 calories under his maintenance.
This comes out to 2000 calories UNDER his maintenance from Monday - Thursday.
Friday to Sunday resulted in a net GAIN of 1600 calories.
So while Bob thought he had a great week, and didn’t go off the rails on the weekend he STILL is only a net total of 400 calories under his maintenance for 7 days.
This can be disheartening because of how much work he had to put in during the week, and yet he still isn’t seeing the weight loss as quickly as he would hope.
If he continued to have a net loss over a week’s time of 400 calories, it would take him about 8 weeks to lose 1 pound.
What this really means…
Look, I'm not here to tell you that you can’t enjoy some pizza, drink your drinks, and eat out. I 100% don’t agree with restricting what you want in the moment.
However if weight loss and fat loss is on your mind you need to be aware of what you are putting in your mouth Monday - Sunday, not just Monday - Friday.
If you were able to stick with the math above, you can clearly see how 1 weekend of eating a little bit and drinking a little bit more than usual can have a huge impact on your overall weight and fat loss.
And it honestly might not even feel that way - you might not even feel that you are eating everything that would cause you to gain weight, or at least even out the scale of calories in and calories out for the week.
I also don’t want this to be about the calories and only the calories...because it’s not. There’s much more to understanding what the body needs and learning to listen to it.
I only wanted to use the numbers because they are absolutes when we talk about how the body uses, spends, and stores energy.
However our day to day lives are not absolute and we do not live in a vacuum controlled space where emotions don’t play a huge role in our decision making.
So if there’s a takeaway from all the math above it’s this : You can easily sabotage your week’s efforts of eating well and staying in line with your goals with a weekend of a few drinks, some desserts, and higher caloric foods.
What you can do to help this
So as the weekend approaches, what can you plan to do, to help you not fall off the wagon completely?
Firstly, I would suggest that you have 1 or 2 meals during the weekend where you feel absolutely free to eat whatever and however much you want. I don’t mean that to say to feel so stuffed you feel your pants will burst.
Instead let it be okay for you to enjoy a meal that you normally don’t have, or something that you really look forward to.
For Britt and I, that’s our Friday night date nights. I’ll order a burger, fries, an appetizer, and have a few drinks. This night I definitely indulge in but that’s okay because I know this is the night that I really feel free to do so.
Throw out the idea of a “cheat day”. Cheat days can get seriously out of hand, rather quickly. When you go into a day and you think “I’m going to eat everything and anything I want” you’ll more than likely eat far over your fullness level, feel disgusting, and probably regret it the next day.
Especially if you’ve been restricting any specific food throughout the week. (Cue those who chose not to have 1 dessert on the weekdays, until the weekend comes…)
Instead of a full day, think about 1-2 meals like stated above.
Secondly, continue eating full meals throughout the weekend. Just like your “good week” of eating, eat a breakfast, lunch and dinner that include all the necessary parts of a full meal. Include a quality protein, smart carb, healthy fat, and colorful vegetables.
Yes it is easy to order a pizza, but what else are you eating that day? Are you eating an egg sandwich in the morning, and then wings later on?
By eating a meal with all aspects of a full plate, you’ll be more satisfied and less hungry to then overindulge in a meal because you “were saving your appetite” for the pizza and wings.
When we are starving, we are much more likely to go for that extra slice of pizza, or extra 20 chips with salsa!
Britt and I make it a priority to cook a full meal Saturday and Sunday night (barring any plans that would take us out!)
Lastly, stay hydrated! A simple one but also one that can help curb how much you drink as well as how hungry you are. I find that many clients of mine tend to drink more water during the week, then on the weekend.
Be it because they aren’t on their normal routine or because they just aren’t thinking about water as much….but this can have a profound impact on your overall hunger and fullness levels.
By staying hydrated you won’t feel that afternoon crash in which many people tend to turn to quick snacks to help them stay energized for the evening. Drink plenty of water and you will be able to stay energized and avoid those cravings for something sweet or salty!
Enjoy the weekend…
No matter what I’m saying in this, ultimately it’s most important to have time to recover, relax, and enjoy your family and friends.
Often spending time with family and friends is accompanied with food, and drinks. Social interaction and building these relationships is just as important as your fitness and weight loss goals.
I hope that this post here won’t deter you from eating out and having a good time, but rather allow you to see how you can impact your life for the better.
It takes much practice and patience when it comes to reaching a goal and having success. The last thing I want for you is to feel like you are doing everything right, but nothing is happening.
Awareness is the problem about half the time - once you can become aware of some choices that may be impacting your stagnation, you’ll be better adjusted to attack these issues head on!