I managed to lose five pounds between Thanksgiving and New Year’s. This was a shocker to me because I drank a ton, wasn’t in “diet” mindset, and I had a two week break from work (being at a University, we’re closed for winter break which means my gym was closed too). It was a pure recipe for disaster. Reflecting on that time, I realized that the rules I followed during this six-week period could easily be applied to weekends keeping me on track throughout the rest of the year too!
PLAN, PLAN, PLAN
I’m not saying I need to be fully scheduled to the brim on weekends. Heck, after such a busy week I love when I actually have no plans at all for the weekend. But at a minimum, I need to schedule my workouts. Rather than a really formal schedule, I typically think of what’s going on and then think about where some holes are in which I can work in a workout. For example, dinner out with friends on Saturday night and Tyler’s play date Saturday afternoon means I need to get my ass in gear and squeeze out an AM workout. On Sunday, my son has an afternoon soccer practice, so hubby and I can schedule a late morning power yoga class. Planned workouts that I can’t cancel are especially motivating (such as a scheduled power yoga class with the husband. No matter how much I drank the night before, knowing he’s counting on me to drink some water and get my yoga pants on the next day — I will make it to class). Over winter break I signed up for Pure Barre classes that had only a four hour cancellation window. Or another way I motivate myself is to just tell a bunch of people I’m planning on working out. When I signed up for Barre, I announced on Facebook to all my “Barre friends” that I was doing Barre every day during the break. If all else is failing me and I’m ready to break the appointment with myself, I just put on my workout clothes and then decide if I want to cancel. Most of the time I’ll just do it!
The planning concept also applies to my nutrition. I make sure to have plenty of healthy snacks available (fresh fruit, graze snacks, mini omelets). If I’m dining out, I try to have input on where that will be – someplace where I can preview the menu or know there will be healthy options or not too much temptation. I won’t “save my calories” (see below), but I might plan the timing of meals a little differently depending on the time we have dinner reservations.
BEAT THE “I DON’T HAVE ENOUGH TIME” EXCUSE
If all the planning in the world doesn’t allow enough time to get out to a class, go for a run or do a complete workout video – show yourself some love and find a quick 15 minute workout online. To test my theory that 15 minute workouts are plentiful and easy to find, I googled “15 minutes _____” and filled in various muscle groups. Here’s what I came up with within seconds:
Butt: http://www.fitnessmagazine.com/workout/butt/exercises/bootylicious-15-minute-butt-workout/ (side note: if you google “buns” you will get a bunch of hamburger roll recipes)
And be real with yourself. Is it the time (i.e. you don’t have enough of it) or is it an excuse? If you’re completely honest and are actually making an excuse, then make a deal with yourself. For example, “I think logistically I can squeeze in a 15 minute workout but I don’t feeeeeeeel like it.” “Ok, self. I’ll make a deal. You don’t have to do the full 15 minutes. If you work your hardest for 7 minutes, you can stop after that”. So first of all, most of us would probably just finish the 15 minutes. Sometimes, I feel great and continue on one other body part for another 15 minutes. It is really just getting started.
WORKOUT CLOTHES ARE MY WEEKEND LOUNGE CLOTHES
OK, I get it if you have to go somewhere that you can’t where workout clothes. But for me, I usually have a few hours at home before I need to get out of the house to go errands, kid, stuff, etc. So I put those babies on as soon as I wake up because I am 1) more likely to make smarter nutrition choices (who eats a stack of chocolate chip pancakes and bacon with workout clothes on?) and 2) I’m halfway to working out, especially if I need to squeeze a workout in at home before I do anything else.
SNACK AND EAT “REAL” MEALS
On the weekends I tend to miss my morning snack (which, when in the office is usually mini omelets and blueberries). I’m not usually hungry when snack time rolls around during the week, but I know that by 11am I need to get my snack in before I work out. On the weekend I get busy with the kids, cleaning, or running errands and typically miss that snack. Big mistake because lunchtime starts to roll around and I’m HANGRY! Like fast food hungry eat a two cheeseburger meal from McDonald’s hungry (ew, did I really just say that?). And when hunger like that strikes a salad doesn’t feel right. I need to bite into a big juicy burger. But really, if I had just eaten my snack, lunchtime would be much more civilized and I would just be ready for my typical healthy lunch (soup, salad, etc). The same principle goes for my afternoon snack. At work I typically have one of my graze snacks (which would involve some sort of nuts and fruit) But on the weekends I would typically skip snack if I’m going out to dinner. Save those calories right? No!! If I don’t have the snack, I am famished when I get to the restaurant and make poor choices: bread baskets, appetizers, the booze hits me faster and by dessert time I make more bad choices. A snack of about 100-200 calories seems counter-intuitive to a night out, but it really helps manage those hunger pangs leading to smarter decisions at the restaurant.
Also, on the weekends it may seem easy to grab a snack right out of the bag or container. But I always put food on a plat or in a bowl, so I know how much I ate. This is especially important for snacks like nuts where it’s easy to overdo it!
During the work week I have a very precise water routine, I fill up my 32 oz. water bottle every time I get up from my desk to go to the bathroom (repeat cycle). On the weekends, I tend to not use my water bottle AND drink coffee all morning. As opposed to the weekdays, when I have my two cups at home before leaving the house and then switch to water and green tea once I get to the office. When I started getting serious about keeping weekends in check, I needed to make sure I followed the same weekday water timeline. The water, by the way, kept me fuller longer and less prone to snacking. I started my day with my usual water before coffee (hot water with lemon). Then, after my first cup or two of coffee, I have a large glass of water while my next coffee is steeping in the French press. After that final pot of French press, coffee is over for the day! Time to switch to infused water (or seltzer).
Infused waters add a little pizazz for the weekends (making it a little more special than my work-water) and also create a sense of urgency by using fresh ingredients. Since I usually plan two different waters for the weekend (say lime, cucumber and mint on Saturday and cinnamon, pears and cloves on Sunday), if I don’t drink Saturday’s water, I won’t be able to get Sunday’s water infusing in time to enjoy.
Being on a full-on weight loss regime, I try to go alcohol-free for the weekend. Each time I did a 21-day alcohol-free stint in my challenge groups I was very successful in meeting my weight loss goals. I followed a lot of the advice I gave in my blog post on the topic when I am a teetotaler on the weekends. That said, between Thanksgiving and New Year I didn’t restrict myself as I do during a 21-day challenge, but I was careful how I drank. I chose mostly wine or mixed drinks (mixing gin or vodka with sugar-free lemonade, seltzer water, or light tonic – never with a sugary drink or juice!) I also suggest drinking a big glass of water or seltzer water before each drink. This one is usually easy in the beginning of an event but gets harder to do as the event rolls on – which is when my inhibition is coming down! I also tried to minimize the alcohol I drank during the meal, and focus on my seltzer while eating knowing that once dinner was complete, I could have another drink if I wanted. I love dessert, but love my wine more. At Christmas Eve dinner, I treated myself and ordered a really fancy delicious ice wine as my dessert! It was completely satisfying for my sweet tooth and felt really special.
BE AN ANNOYING CUSTOMER
When I eat out, I’m not afraid to ask for a different dressing (or on the side) for my salad, or swap out extra veggies for the mashed potatoes on my dinner plate. Instead of feeling like a pain in the ass, I try to think like a healthy person. Healthy people don’t eat loaded mashed potatoes!!
GET ENOUGH SLEEP!
On the weekends, I tend to stay up later catching up on my blog, online shopping, or cleaning/organizing around the house. But it’s a terrible cycle. When I don’t get enough sleep, I make poor eating decisions the next day and often don’t feel like working out. So to keep to my nutrition and fitness goals, I try to get to bed no later than an hour after my normal bed time if at all possible.
DON’T EAT LIKE A KID
My kids and I tend to eat out quite a bit on the weekends. During our fun excursions to the Zoo, birthday parties, soccer practice we’re around unhealthy kid food quite a lot. My number one rule is to never eat their food. No matter how much grilled cheese sandwich or french fries are left on their plates, I don’t touch it. This was a very difficult skill to manage because I hate wasting food, especially their yummy indulgent food! My other rule is to not feel like I need to get ice cream or froyo just because my kids are having it. If I’m treating them, I can still get a delicious mint tea and still feel completely satisfied. I always, always plan to bring some emergency snacks when going to a kid’s party since the main entrée is almost always pizza (which I never can stop at one slice) and I need to avoid birthday cake at all costs (plus, it never really tastes SO good that it’s worth the indulgence. So I throw either a kind bar or a graze snack in my purse in case I’m feeling tempted and I’m good to go!
KEEP YOUR MOUTH BUSY
As discussed in my post on stress-eating tools, I’ve never been a huge fan of gum (and maybe it’s hypocritical, but I hate when others chew gum), but it is such a lifesaver on a healthy eating plan. I pop in some gum when watching movies with the kids (at home or in the theatre) to keep me from pigging out on snacks or while doing my weekly prep in the kitchen where I’m in close proximity to the snacks and treats.
SLIPPED UP? MOVE ON FROM IT
I like to consciously plan my indulgences – so I can truly savor and enjoy these infrequent moments. Notice, we’re not calling it a cheat meal because it was planned! But, we all have those moments when the indulgence maybe turns into the entire meal of indulgence, then the next meal, then maybe screw the whole weekend! Success comes from how we move on from those slip ups. If I over-indulged, I move on from it. I stop thinking about it and know that it was a single moment that has now passed. It is time to move forward according to plan, not according to the string of indulgences.
This is probably a lot to take in all at once – so start with small incremental steps and add one of these in to the upcoming weekend. Add a second healthy habit in the following weekend and continue to add until you’ve mastered the weekend for once and for all!