5 ways to have a healthier weekend

Studies show that changes in lifestyle behaviors over the weekend can lead to worse sleep and weight gain. Here are five ways to have a healthier weekend.

We all know how it goes. You make good food choices, avoid temptations, and work out every morning only to find that on Friday or Saturday night, your willpower goes out the window. Somehow you begin noshing on chicken fingers and guzzling beer then snoozing through your Spinning class the next morning. Sounds familiar? Here are five ways to have a healthier weekend.

1. Don't sleep in: On a Saturday morning, you may want nothing more than to lie in bed for a few extra hours. But this may not be the best move if you want to improve your sleep overall. Sleeping in on the weekends can throw off your body's internal clock, or circadian rhythm, according to the National Sleep Foundation. This could make it harder for you to fall asleep at your usual bedtime, and get up at your usual time once the workweek starts again. That's why it's best to keep your bedtime and wake-up time consistent, and to vary your sleep schedule by no more than an hour on weekends.

2. Eat like it's a weekday: When you think about it, it doesn't really make much sense to eat differently on the weekend than you do during the week—especially if your food choices during the week keep you fueled and energized. It can be easy to skip meals on the weekend and then make up for it later by overindulging at dinner. So, make a point to eat breakfast, lunch and dinner while sitting down. Pack snacks for when you're on the go, and follow a schedule just like you would during the week. Your body will thank you!

3. Limit the cheer during Friday night happy hour: Alcohol is high in calories and makes that free snack bowl on the bar look even more inviting. To still socialize without weight gain, ask the bartender to take the snacks away, or choose a seat where you can't easily reach them. Instead of a group pitcher of beer, order your own drink to keep track of how much you've had. In between drinks, down a full glass of water to fill up without excess calories and help prevent a morning hangover. Lastly, don't forget to eat! A sensible dinner will help you drink less and avoid any late-night food temptations.

4. Fuel yourself for weekday success: Ask yourself honestly if you pushed yourself too hard with workouts or restricted your food or calories too much during the week. If so, come Friday, your body may be hungry and tired, which can lead to overeating and under exercising on the weekend. Remember to practice moderation every day, eating and exercising in a way that you can sustain for the long haul; not just a few days or weeks.

5. Don't be sedentary on Sunday afternoon: It's tempting to spend Sunday sitting on the couch, watching baseball or football or catching up on your favorite TV shows. Instead, take advantage of the fact that you have free time and go for a hike, bike ride, or swim. Using the day off for some intense, calorie-burning activities that you can't squeeze in midweek can result in weekend weight loss. Create a plan to keep busy. People tend to eat more when they have a lot of free time because they're bored.

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