10 Tips for a Healthy Weekend

reading and relaxingWe’ve all been there. Whether trying to lose weight or simply adopt healthier behaviors, we do well staying on track during the week, but seem to blow it on the weekends. Simple math would lead us to believe that 5 good days would outweigh 2 bad ones; but, alas, it isn’t so.

Being healthy certainly doesn’t require perfection, but it does require consistency. If we go from one extreme to another, it can be difficult to make lasting changes and see results. For many of us, the weekends present the biggest challenge. The struggle may come from a lack of structure, leading to boredom eating; or it might be the result of a robust social life. Regardless of the cause, here are 10 tips for a healthy weekend.

1. Build structure and routine into your weekends.

Many people ”slip up” on the weekends because of a lack of structure. Try to follow the same sleep patterns you would during the week. Wake up in the morning at close to the same time, and eat your meals at the same time. This will help you to regulate the amount of food you eat each day and prevent you from grazing in the kitchen.

2. Eat breakfast.

Eating breakfast on the weekends is just as important as it is during the week, so make sure that you don’t skip this crucial meal. Also, remember that not all breakfasts are the same. Aim for lean protein, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables as opposed to coffee and donuts.

3. Use extra time to bump up your physical activity.

Adding more physical activity on the weekends will give you room for a little splurging. If you take the weekend off from exercise and also eat and drink more calories, your waistline is sure to show it! Burn some extra calories on the weekends and give yourself a little wiggle room.

4. Weigh yourself on Friday mornings and again on Monday mornings.

Seeing how your weight fluctuates from the beginning of the weekend to the end will help you stay on track. You can make a note of what your choices were over the weekend and how those choices affected the numbers on the scale. See what your results are on Monday morning and use this to help you stay motivated to continue your healthy habits throughout the weekend. However, do keep in mind the natural fluctuations of water weight that occur, especially when you consume foods high in sugar or salt or alcoholic beverages.

5. Don’t leave the house hungry.

Heading away from home on an empty stomach will make unhealthy choices much more appealing. Always have a light snack (such as half a turkey sandwich on whole grain bread or an apple with peanut butter) before leaving the house. Also, consider packing a bag of healthy snacks for the car just in case you are out longer than you expect.

6. Plan ahead.

Prepare to battle the temptations of takeout and high-calorie meals. Keep the house stocked with all the fresh foods you need to make it through the weekend. If you have the ingredients to prepare delicious, healthy meals from home; you will be less tempted to make a quick stop for fast food.

7. Watch your portions.

Weekends can often mean outings to your favorite restaurants. Unfortunately, restaurant meals tend to be high in calories, saturated fats, and sodium. Stay on track by keeping your portions small. Don’t deprive yourself from having your favorite meal, but consider sharing with a friend or making it into two meals instead of one. Starting the meal with water and a small side salad will also help fill you up so you are less likely to overeat during the meal.

8. Be smart about beverages.

If you like to imbibe on the weekends, you are certainly not alone. Before you kick back with your favorite adult beverage, keep in mind that many alcoholic drinks pack a major calorie punch. With most beer and wine weighing in at 100-200 calories per serving and many mixed drinks topping out even higher, a night out drinking with friends can really add up. Try to stick to just one or two drinks, and make the rest water.

9. Make your night out a little healthier.

Instead of focusing your night out around food and/or alcohol, find something fun and physically active to do. Go dancing or mini-golfing. Lace up some skates, or simply go for a walk. There are tons of ways to have fun with friends without overindulging.

10. Make your weekdays top notch!

You never want to deprive yourself from the foods that you love. If the weekend is your time to enjoy some of your favorites, be sure to make your weekdays even better! Add additional physical activity and do your best to make the healthiest choices during the week. That way, you have some room to enjoy yourself on the weekend – just be careful not to overdo it!

We all love the weekends, but our laid back weekend habits can sometimes be bad for our health and can keep us from reaching our healthy living goals. The good news is, you can still enjoy your weekend and stay on track with your diet and exercise. All it takes is some awareness and a plan, and you can have a healthy weekend!

Sarah Wood, the author of this article, is available to speak to groups or hold classes on a variety of health-related topics such as nutrition, physical activity, healthy cooking, stress management, and wellness. To schedule an event or get more information, call 816-279-1691 or email woodsarah@missouri.edu.

How do you plan for a healthy weekend? Let us know in the comments below.

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About Sarah Wood

Sarah Wood is a registered dietitian with a Master's Degree in Applied Health Sciences. Currently, she is a Nutrition and Health Education Specialist with the University of Missouri Extension. When taking time for herself, she runs, travels, and creates art.

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