The Weekend Diet
Your days off don't have to be your dietary downfall.
Monday through Friday, we juggle work obligations and family activities, and
rush to get dinner on the table. Then when the weekend finally comes, we kick
up our heels, shift into relaxation mode -- and enter a dietary danger zone,
where healthy eating and fitness routines may get cast to the wind.
Whenever I analyze someone's dietary intake, I look at two weekdays and one
weekend day because people eat very differently on weekends. Our more relaxed
weekend schedules leave time for frequent trips to the kitchen for snacks,
restaurant meals, parties featuring high-calorie hors d'ouevres and alcohol,
and the list goes on.
But your days off don't have to undo all your hard work during the week.
Here's some advice to help you relax without falling off your healthy eating
The 80/20 Rule
There are two basic schools of thought on handling your diet over the
weekend. The first strategy is to follow your usual healthful eating plan
carefully and get to the gym daily during the week -- so that when the weekend
comes, you can splurge a little.
This doesn't mean throwing caution to the wind and eating a whole pie in one
sitting. It simply means enjoying some of the calories you've saved during the
week, maybe in the form of a glass of wine or a serving of your favorite
dessert. Think of it as the 80/20 rule: 80% of the time, you stick to your
healthy routine; the other 20% is your flex time, to indulge in whatever suits
Yes, you can have your cake and eat it, too, as long as the slice is small
-- and you keep up your activity. You need at least 30 minutes of activity each
day, whether it's walking, gardening, or doing an exercise video. Strap on a
pedometer and let the steps you take while doing errands or shopping add up
(strive for at least 5,000 steps). Getting some exercise almost every day just
makes you feel better. As hard as it can be to get started, you never regret
lacing up your sneakers.
This approach is my own weight management strategy. I find it easier to be
diligent during the week knowing that I can indulge on the weekends. It gives
me the motivation and discipline I need to get to Friday.
The Weekend Warrior
The second approach is to use your extra weekend time to prepare healthy
meals and catch up on the exercise that gets squeezed out of your schedule
during the week.
You can spend more time at the gym or increase the intensity of your regular
routine. But be warned: While it's fine to pump up your activity, tune in to
how you are feeling and stop if you are overtired or in pain. Going overboard
can result in injury.
With a little advance planning and a few hours to spare, you can stock your
freezer with easy meals for the upcoming week. Batch cooking once a week can
save you time and money. During the week, it allows you to get healthy
meals on the table in minutes. And it can save you money both at the grocery
store, where you can buy in bulk, and at the drive-through (which you'll have
no need to visit).