How often do you keep your Good Habits during the weekdays, and spend your entire weekend falling off the wagon? Somehow it’s easier to eat veggies, fruits, and wholegrains during the workweek, but seemingly impossible to pass up chips, desserts, and beer after 6pm on Thursday! Weekends often bring all-day indulging and relaxing.

Take heart—there are things you can do to ward off the weekend woes, even as you make Fridays and Saturdays a relaxing departure from your weekday world. Though your schedule may vary widely, dictated by social outings, household chores, and kids activities, you can master the shift with a bit of thought and creativity.

First of all, recognize that weekends are a common problem for most of us striving to maintain health and fitness. Next, diagnose the major pitfalls of your own weekends: Do you make bad food choices? Eat too much? Hibernate instead of hitting the gym? By examining what throws you off course, you can institute some strategies that will get you back on track. For starters, try these tips:

  • Keep up with your diet and exercise diary on the weekends. Use it to pinpoint your difficulties, so that you can evaluate ways to attack your weaknesses.
  • Look for ways to combine family time with exercise, both indoors and out. Ride bikes, skate, play soccer or swim, or take a simple walk. Your weekend exercise will be worthwhile even if it’s not as regimented. Plus, you’ll be instilling healthy habits in your kids without them even knowing.
  • If the weekend is your time to cook, either for fun or to get a jump on the week ahead, try some healthy new recipes, adding the successful ones to your repertoire. You can also adapt old favorites into healthier versions through such simple modifications as less sugar, apple sauce instead of oil, canola or olive oil instead of vegetable oil, plain yogurt instead of sour cream etc.
  • Try new foods that you don’t usually have time for on a busy weekday. Make fruit smoothies, which are diet-friendly and can satisfy a sweet tooth.
  • When it comes to weekends, you’re more likely to exercise if you get it out of the way. Plan your workout for early Saturday morning—before you slip into relaxation mode.
  • Limit dining out to just one meal per weekend. If something happens that you didn’t “budget” for, try to compensate. If you over-indulged, plan additional activity to help offset the extra calories.
  • Spice up your workouts so you’ll stick with them! Try the Saturday morning spinning or the afternoon yoga classes. Whatever you normally do during the week, find something new and different for the weekend.
  • Look for new exercise opportunities that aren’t necessarily available during the week. Can you walk to get a paper, or cycle (early morning) to the shops? Things that might not be feasible during the week because of time constraints might be a nice change of pace on the weekend.
  • Don’t save all your splurging for the weekends. Allowing yourself a few treats throughout the week will help you avoid the mindset that the weekend is an excuse to go bonkers. And by spacing your treats evenly, you’re less likely to get sudden, irresistible cravings.
  • Don’t forget to drink your water! Carry convenient sports bottles to your weekend activities.
  • If you know you’re going to dine out or be in a social situation with special food, eat a light snack beforehand. Then, you can enjoy the treats without being so famished that you go overboard.
  • Find something to keep you motivated, even at home on weekends. For example reading the latest fitness news from a magazine could give you the willpower to resist temptations that might otherwise pull you in.
  • Avoid alcohol. Not only does it contain 7 calories per gram (not including the calories in mixers), but drinking can also lower your inhibitions, causing you to eat more. Plus, when you’re dehydrated and groggy the next day, the last thing you want to do is exercise.

You don’t have to regret the weekend—or start over every Sunday morning. By adopting strategies that work for your life, you can relax and once again enjoy the weekend. So, next time your co-workers tell you to “Have a good weekend”…you will!


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