We've all been there. We stick to our healthy eating plans and workout regimens during the week and feel like we're finally hitting our stride, but then the weekend comes and our good efforts crumble to make way for bad habits. Once we reach the weekend, it's tempting to allow ourselves extra indulgences, but self-care shouldn't be confounded with throwing all our hard work out the window.
Cornell University Food and Brand Lab finds that most people have a weight cycle where they lose some weight during the week and then gain it back over the weekend due to unhealthy habits that kick in on our days off. Just because Saturday and Sunday are our days to take a break from work doesn't mean they're days to take a break from working on our healthier selves. Health recently highlighted a list of common ways we sabotage our healthy lifestyle on the weekends as well as how to fix each problem. See below for three weekend habits that are throwing off your healthy lifestyle, plus solutions to keep you on track through Monday.
Recharging on the sofa: As tempting as it is to veg out and live the couch-potato life over the weekend, you may want to reconsider just how much time you spend sedentary. Researchers at the University of South Carolina found that reducing sedentary time by just 20 minutes on the weekend alone helped overweight people lose 1.6% of their body fat over the duration of a year. Spread out your indulgences over the weekend rather than binging on them all at once. For example, if you're catching up on your favorite show, go for a walk after a couple of episodes.
Playing catch-up with sleep: Though the weekend may seem like the perfect time to catch up on all your sleep deprivation from the week, overdoing it can actually mess with your circadian rhythm, says Phyllis Zee, MD, director of the Center for Circadian and Sleep Medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. Your circadian rhythm directly impacts your hormones, and when they're not in balance, it could lead to unhealthy cravings for fatty foods. Keep your bedtime and wake-time within two hours of your normal sleep schedule, and stick to nutritious foods that will keep you energized throughout the day rather than quick fixes for an energy spike.
Social jet lag: Come Friday night, it's easy to burn off steam from the workweek by meeting up with friends and drinking. "Social jet lag is the term for the change in your sleep schedule between workdays and weekends," explains Zee, "and it often results from pushing back bedtime so you can go out with friends." If you are having a night out over the weekend, keep in mind that alcohol impairs your ability to make healthy choices about food (among other things), so plan your night accordingly. Stick to foods high in protein if you know you'll be drinking, drink plenty of water, and make sure to get to bed within two hours of when you normally would.
Want more inspiration for transforming your weekend? Do these four things over the weekend for a healthier week.