I speak with lots of clients and people who are considering starting Fitter Confident You who say things like,
“But Matt, I don’t know why I’m not making more progress, I’m really good in the week.”
“And how are you at the weekend…?”
I get it. Our whole culture and the can’t-escape-it Five Day Work Week sets us up to Live for the Weekend, the issue is that we sometimes then feel that we’ve earned all the food/treats/alcohol we want – and if you’re happy with that, awesome, all I want is for people to find their natural rhythm that let’s them flourish as they want to.
However if you’re working on some kind of exercise/health programme, or even just want to start being a bit healthier, then weekends can derail you – easy-to-drink booze can drastically increase calorie consumption, we eat out more which is generally more calorie dense too, then if we’re a bit hungover, our exercise may not be as good as we’d like, or not even happen – again this is fine is that’s what you’re fine with, but if you want to get a bit more balance in your life, here are 7 ways to stop the weekend derailing your progress…
Work on seeing weekend days the same as week days
Same amount of time, same sun rising in the morning, setting in the evening, but socially we’ve been set up to view the weekend as somehow more important, more… precious. Only, it ain’t. Sure, depending on our work we may get the opportunity to stay up later, and if you have a stressful job of course you’re allowed (and encouraged) to decompress and relax, that just doesn’t have to always be in the same routine as before – plus, while this might seem strange at first, building some kind of movement into your weekend will help you feel better in the long run too.
Steadily start to make smarter choices
This article isn’t to get you to stop eating out, but if you’re not making the headway you’d like to with your Nutrition, it could well be that smarter choices across the weekend could get you back on track. Share a side of fries, as opposed to having a whole portion to yourself. McDonald’s medium fries have 340 calories in a serving. Halve that to save 170 calories in one easy step. Or if you’re eating out somewhere with cutlery, if you go for protein and veggies (which, even I can now admit, can be delicious) again you can save a similar amount. If you’re eating out three times over the weekend, those small swaps will save you as much as 600 calories – ie. another meal. Same with alcohol, go for ‘the PT’s drink’ (lol, we don’t really call it that), vodka, soda and fresh lime (plus it reduces hangovers thanks to the soda). Or use this template – spirit and diet mixer.
Have some food prepped and ready to go
Clearly this takes a bit of practise, but sometimes we need to put a bit of effort in to get out what we want – if nothing changes, nothing changes. There’s a great recipe app called Fit Men Cook (we’ll brush over the sexist name for now as the recipes are awesome) with loads of super easy meal prep ideas. When you’re hungover and not sure what to eat, if you’ve got some tasty meals in the freezer they can be warmed up and on your plate quicker than a delivery pizza AND you won’t feel sick/empty/sad 30 mins later.
Change who you hang out with
This one might come across as a bit… Punchy. But as much as you love your friends, they’re unlikely to all be on the same fitness journey as you, and if they’re insistent about going out hard, then maybe it’s time you saw them less, and found ones who clicked more with where you are right now. Also, a massive middle finger up at the ‘friends’ who pressure you into drinking when you’ve decided to cut down – they can all get in the bin.
If your focus is fat loss, create more of a deficit during the week
It’s Maths o’clock! If you keep in mind that every day you have a specific amount of calories your body requires to maintain its current weight – go above that and you’ll store the excess as fat, go below that and you’ll burn the excess fat (that’s a simplified version but in essence is true). However just because the clock strikes midnight doesn’t mean your calories re-set, therefore you can create a deficit over time too. Say you’ve got a big weekend coming up, once you’ve worked out your daily calorie intake (download the app MyFitnessPal to do so), you can then ‘save’ an extra 200 calories Monday to Friday and then have 1,000 extra to play with at the weekend. I wouldn’t recommend this on a regular basis, as bodies prefer and respond better to consistency, however it will help you out on an ad hoc basis.
Move in some way
Exercise? On a weekend?! Not necessarily the way you’re thinking, it doesn’t have to be another gym session or slogging round the park, there are more and more teams and fun societies out there you can join – in the same way you can disguise your vegetables in other foods, disguise your exercise with different activities – get down the trampoline park or up the climbing wall! Even just going for a walk with friends helps keep you in the mindset that ‘moving more is something I do’ – that also helps you avoid the ‘Eurgh I can’t be bothered to go to the gym on Monday’ feeling.
Do something new
Sometimes we need to interrupt our patterns to helps us break them. If your weekends are getting monotonous and you’re stuck in a cycle of takeaways and Netflix, find something new to distract you – not even necessarily exercise, but that’s a good ‘un [see point 6], but what about an art or cookery class, playing a new board game, taking up an online class or even reading a book – humans have a need to grow to thrive, but it’s very easy to forget this with all the shiny distractions around us, that have been created to keep us still in mind and body. Give yourself a push – or get someone else to nudge you into it – and change one thing, to change everything.
What have I missed? What are the strategies you use during the weekend?
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Have a look at my 12 week Fitter Confident You programme, www.fitterconfidentyou.net/onlinetraining