Blog - Weekend Damage: Putting the Brakes on Blow-outs
There's something quite unique about a Friday night. For most of us it signifies the official start of the weekend and it can be really tempting to pour yourself a big ol' glass of the red stuff (or whatever's your particular poison) kick back and welcome large amounts of cake, cookies, chips and cheese into your life…
A lot of people see a big blow-out as their reward for a difficult week. Perhaps you've been doing overtime at work, or you've completed a big project this week which has involved tonnes of research, several late nights and endless meetings with difficult people. Maybe you pitched for a job and it's been awarded to your company. (Hey, well done you if that is the case…)
That Friday Feeling
Or perhaps you've been incredibly strict this week with your eating. You've religiously counted calories, you've ensured that you made your diet as low-fat or low-carb (whichever eating plan it is that you favour) as you can. You have turned down every offer of cake, you have gone to bed with a rumbling stomach and you have woken up on Friday morning feeling virtuous, flat-stomached and perhaps a little light-headed.
Let's add to this an enormous amount of exercise. Wow, well done you oh super dieter and exerciser. No wonder you arrived at Friday feeling as if you deserve a huge reward and you see your reward as a whole load of grog and every single item of food you have denied yourself over the course of the week.
The Weekend Indulgences
· Chips? By the bucketful…
· Lollies? Stick 'em right here by my right hand
· Pastries? I'll have five please
· Oh, and while you're on your feet, my glass needs a top up.
Can I stop you right there? I'm not here as the voice of doom, ladies. I get that you feel you really need that reward, but I want to suggest ways of mitigating the damage a weekend blow-out can do. There are certain sections of the population who stick religiously to a diet and exercise plan during the week and then go mad at the weekend.
In fact, a recent study by the diet company Forza Supplements showed that there are women out there eating 10,000 calories over the course of a weekend. Given that the recommended calorie intake for women is roughly 2,000 calories a day (for weight maintenance, it will vary depending on your height, body frame, level of activity etc), then 10,000 is roughly five days' worth of food.
How to do Damage-free Weekends
Here's what I recommend for damage-free weekends, which don't leave you feeling deprived.
Firstly, schedule in non-food or drinks-based rewards. A massage, beauty treatment or catch-up with friends at the park offer long-lasting enjoyment and relaxation benefits.
Secondly, do treat yourself to something special. That's what I advise my clients as sticking to a strict eating plan all the time can encourage feelings of deprivation, so I urge people to make themselves a nice, indulgent meal once a week. The crucial thing here is that it is only one or two meals. Keep reading this blog as I'm going to make suggestions for some of my favourite indulgences.
Thirdly, most of us have foods we know we have little control over. For me, it's Sea Salt Kettle Chips, so I don't stock them in the house. Human beings are programmed to over-eat (and then starve) as that is how we lived for hundreds of thousands of years. It is only in the last 50 or 60 years that we in the western world have lived with so much food, so over-eating is a natural thing to do, but we don't get the under-eating which was meant to accompany that.
If you don't keep cakes, for example, in your home, you are less likely to end up eating them as having to leave the house to buy the cake is much more hassle than just doing without.
Be careful with the grog. I love red wine, but I know that alcohol tends to dissolve will power. Two or three glasses in, and I’m much more likely to reach for that jumbo-size bag of potato chips. Half-an-hour later and the bag has mysteriously disappeared. And a hangover the day after often leaves me more likely to reach for unhealthy foods or not feel like doing a work-out.
Call to Action
I want you to enjoy your weekend, but work out a strategy in advance for coping with overeating and drinking. I'd love to know your strategies for coping with weekend blow-outs, so please share them here.