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Are Weekends Weighing You Down?

By Lauren Caruso, graduate student, Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition, University of Florida
Reviewed by Karla Shelnutt, PhD, Department of Family, Youth, and Community Sciences, University of Florida, and Gail Kauwell,  PhD, Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition, University of Florida

Do you have trouble sticking to your healthy routine when the weekend rolls around? For many people, weekends are a time for fun and relaxation. This is great–but it can be a little too easy to go overboard. A 2008 study in the journal Obesity looked at 48 healthy adults and found that they consistently gained weight on the weekends. This was likely due to the fact that the participants ate the most on Saturdays and exercised the least on Sundays.

Small weight changes on weekends may not seem like a big deal, but they can add up by the end of the year. Making healthy choices on the weekends may help prevent excess weight gain and make it easier to resume your normal routine on Monday mornings.

Here are some tips to help you stay active and eat healthy on weekends while still having fun!

  • Do what you enjoy! Be active by doing the things you like, whether it’s yoga, gardening, or biking. I love exploring new nature trails with friends on the weekends. If you enjoy your active time, you’ll be more likely to stick to it when the weekend rolls around–and you’ll have something to look forward to during the week.
  • Keep alcohol in moderation. Keep in mind that alcohol can make a significant contribution to your daily calories, and it can add up fast! It may be helpful to set a limit ahead of time as to the number of drinks you’ll consume over the weekend.
  • Be smart when dining out. While it’s fun to go out to eat, restaurant meals often have more fat and calories than meals you would make at home. However, it’s possible to enjoy a delicious, yet healthy meal. I try to keep my portion sizes in check, and avoid “fried” or “creamy” menu items whenever possible. Check out this article for more tips.
  • Don’t abandon your routine! Sticking to regular meal and snack times can help prevent overeating at other times during the day. Also, it makes it easier to transition back into a healthy routine come Monday.
  • Practice portion control for “treat” foods. If you want to indulge in a special meal or dessert, go for it! Just enjoy it in small amounts. If baking is something you enjoy, don’t deprive yourself! Share what you make with friends or coworkers.
  • Get prepared. I use the weekends to plan my meals for the week and to make a shopping list of what I’ll need at the grocery store. You can even use this time to prepare some meals or snacks that you can eat throughout the week.
  • Don’t forget about social time! Being social with friends doesn’t have to mean going out for dinner or drinks. Invite your friends over for a healthy, home-cooked meal or for game night with some healthy snacks! Alternatively, you and your friends might enjoy trying a new activity together, such as a group fitness class or dance lessons.

(Photo credit: Nachos from Mono Logo in Antigua, Guatemala by David Amsler. CC BY 2.0. Cropped.)

References:

Racette, S. B., Weiss, E. P., Schechtman, K. B., Steger-May, K., Villareal, D. T., Obert, K. A., Holloszy, J.O. (2008). Influence of weekend lifestyle patterns on body weight. Obesity, 16(8), 1826-1830. http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/oby.2008.320

Paredes, A.Z., Shelnutt, K.P. (2010). Make eating out a healthier experience. Retrieved from http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/fy1152.