Are your weekends to blame for unwanted weight gain?
-Aug 23, Caroline Blight, Fitness -
It can be so hard finding balance in our lives. We try to eat healthy food, go to yoga and avoid alcohol in the week, then meet friends for wine and meals out at the weekend. If you’re wondering why all your hard work at the gym isn’t really doing anything, we asked an expert how to make sure that your cheat days aren’t playing havoc with your week days.
Are you hitting the gym and eating all the right stuff and still not seeing results? Do you find your weight on a Friday morning is lower than it is come Monday? Do you feel you are constantly losing and gaining the same few pounds but never making any progress? Well your weekend habits could be to blame! While many diets suggest having a ‘cheat’ day to help you stick to the plan, sometimes this cheat day (or actually weekend) could be scuppering all the good work you have put in for the other five days.
“Monday to Friday, you are about that fitness life; prepping those meals, plates full of all the right foods, training like a beast and drinking your 2 litres to water,” says Melissa Weldon, Head of Training at Sweat-It London. “Then Friday night hits and you’re replacing protein shakes with cold beers and chicken salads with juicy burgers and all the trimmings. Everyone knows it; weekends are the enemy of progress!” But it doesn’t have to be this way as Melissa explains.
Swap your “Cheat-Day” for a “Cheat-Meal”
It’s the thing you can dream about all week when you are less than thrilled with the salad you have knocked up – again. But setting aside a whole day to go crazy could be why you are still eating salads with nothing to show for it! “People who are super strict with their diet Monday to Friday, tend to go a little too hard on their cheat day and this can set them back a little on their goals,” Melissa explains. “Rather than a full day of treats; choose a meal and make it a good one. Everything else that day should be more on the side of high protein and lower carbs and fat to even it out.”
Meet at the gym rather than the pub
There are some places where even the best willpower in the world is going to be tested – and the pub is one of them! You are asking a lot of yourself not to drink and when you do you are less likely to make sensible, healthy food choices either that day or even the next. So change your meeting place for an easier mindset. “People tend to use their weekends to socialise but spending time with friends and family doesn’t need to involve eating and drinking,” insists Melissa. “Instead meet your friends at the gym for a session, or for a walk in the park. So that you don’t feel like you’re missing out you can then go for a healthy meal to refuel.” If you eat post a healthy walk you are more likely to make a sensible choice.
Swap wine for spirits
“The average beer or wine contains 200 calories, if you are trying to lose fat, you should be aiming to be in a deficit of 500 calories per day to lose a safe 1lb per week,” explains Melissa. So when you are having a drink, make the lighter choice. “There are some great light beers and ciders out there or spirits average 50 calories per measure,” adds Melissa. And if you add soda and some real lime then you only take on the calories of the spirit but get a longer drink. Win-win!
Book a Saturday morning fitness class
If you wait until the weekend to decide when to go to the gym it’s unlikely to happen. Life will get in the way. If you book yourself in for a Saturday morning class when you are still #midweekmotivated then firstly you have a date in the diary so are more likely to honour it and secondly you are less likely to overdo it on a Friday night. “You’ll also be more likely to make healthier choices to not “waste” all that righteousness,” says Melissa. “And even if you do (rightly) treat yourself over the weekend, you have put in some extra work, therefore rendering that burger and beer practically non-existent.”
If you are hungover – sweat it out!
So you did go a little hard on the booze and all you feel good for is bacon butties, tea and the sofa. Wrong. “The best cure for a hangover is a long walk in the great outdoors,” insists Melissa. “Oxygen is important for any type of recovery, as it kick-starts healing by helping your body to flush out toxins. A long walk will also help you to burn off the excess calories and help you to feel fresher.” So get up and get out to clear your head without the need for fried food. Just don’t forget your water!
Don’t weigh yourself on a Monday
If you want to stay motivated start weighing yourself once a week and make it midweek. You are likely to see your truest weight then as if you do go overboard at the weekend it could be your extra weight is actually glycogen rather than fat. “Your muscle just soaks up that good glycogen from your weekend of carbs and stores it to use it as fuel,” explains Melissa. “Don’t weigh yourself on Monday if you’ve had a big weekend; just do a session and use all that excess energy to get you closer to that goal.”