Does this sound familiar?
You kill it all week long! Your nutrition is on point; you are crushing your workouts and are feeling confident and ready to rock the weekend!
Friday night happy hour arrives and YES you absolutely deserve that glass of wine and tater tots. As you indulge with your bestie you are even bragging about the amazing results you are seeing. Well heck we might as well just split a bottle of wine; this is my ONE splurge for the week. Your defenses are down after a bottle of wine and when tempted with splitting dessert, you cave.
Waking up Saturday morning, there might be a twinge of guilt… but maybe that is just the small hangover? You brush it off, get another great workout in and move on with your weekend.
The weekend becomes one post workout brunch, followed by one small bite of pizza here, and a half a slice of cake there and then your Mom force-feeding you her delicious lasagna at family dinner night.
It’s all okay right? I mean it’s… Friday or Saturday or Sunday AND you did lose 2 pounds this week.
But then Monday rolls around and your frustrated, feeling guilty, maybe a little grumpy and your morning run feels slower and those pants you were wearing confidently on Friday seem to have somehow magically shrunk over the weekend.
Weekend overeating? It’s a real thing. It starts as a seemingly innocent happy hour, but this is a gateway drug to a weekend blunder and ultimately, you are sabotaging your goals.
As this cycle continues it can be hard to break and in the process of trying to get it “under control” and make some progress towards your goals you might pick up some other bad habits… over training, under eating during the week, obsessively tracking calories. Which let’s be real, this just makes the weekend even worse!
So how can we stop the madness?
Maybe thinking outside of your weekend box being the problem. Maybe habits during the week are just as important to check in on and change.
Here are 5 strategies that can help you end the cycle and develop a healthier relationship with food and yourself!
1. Aim for “good enough” instead of perfect.
You want to reach your goals and you are dedicated to the point where you are tracking every last macronutrient and measuring every teaspoon because you want to adhere to the “perfect” diet (Monday to Friday). You worry all week about screwing it up with an extra gram or two of carbs! So come the weekend it is no wonder you are ready to let loose! You might be sick of feeling restricted or want to eat food you actually enjoy, so cue the above scenario.
For this type of person, it is all or nothing. You are either perfect or crap.
But what if you changed your mindset. Instead of throwing it all out the window because while out to eat not the weekend you can’t always eat your perfectly portioned out meals you allowed yourself the burger, but decided to have a salad with it instead. This is empowering! If you eliminate “perfect” from your vocabulary, suddenly you have so many options. It is not black and white. You can have the burger on a TUESDAY… gasp! But that is not the weekend?! We know! Aim for “good enough” all week! Not just the weekend. Then when the weekend comes you won’t feel deprived and ready to eat all the things! Remember: The decent method you follow is the better than the “perfect” one you quit.
1. Let go of the food rules.
That moderator in your head that tells you…
What you can and can’t eat
When you can and can’t eat it
How much you can or can’t eat
How much you can or can’t have
Where did they even come from? How do they have all that power to enforce these rules on you? Do they actually help you get closer to your goals? I mean we are all for self control, but let's just say your number one food rule is Don’t Eat Carbs.
No croutons, no potatoes and heaven forbid someone invite you to Italian! Pasta are you kidding me?! NO! Until Friday… you are out with friends and the bowl of tortilla chips is taunting you. You FINALLY cave. But you broke one of your food rules. In your mind, you have “blown it”. So then this leads to the “screw it” mentality. See how this is not helpful?
Eating by rules almost always leads to overeating, because once you deviate feel like you have “failed” the moderator in your head so my solution… DITCH THE RULES and let hunger guide you. Non-dieters (aka “normal eaters”) eat when they’re physically hungry and stop when they’re physically full, no matter if it’s Wednesday or Saturday, morning or evening, work lunch or happy hour.
What would happen if you started to pay attention to your own food rules and responses and then let go of that rule and really tuned into your own hunger and fullness cues?
1. Get rid of “Cheat Days”
First of all, the word cheat implies that there are rules, which completely goes against what I just mentioned in strategy number two. But aside from that… Cheat Day can become one the most anticipated days of the week. And instead of having foods in moderation that you love, the entire day becomes a all you can eat buffet of every food you deprived yourself of throughout the week. And for some of you out there, this may be useful for you both physically and mentally. If that is you then forage on. But for most of us out there having one cheat day a week means the rest of the week is food jail. My solution… get rid of the cheat day and allow yourself to choose what you want throughout the entire week. If you allow yourself the freedom to enjoy a middle of the week happy hour with friends and a slice of birthday cake on GASP! A Monday. Then instead of hoarding all the food on your cheat day like you will never eat again, then you can truly enjoy things because you want to. Not because it is a planned event in your calendar. What and when you eat is up to you, no matter the day of the week.
1. Own up to your choices.
Do you ever find yourself on Let’s Make a Deal in your head? When if comes to food you reward your good deeds with bad food choices. “I have turned down dessert all week, but that means this weekend I get to eat the whole carton of ice cream.”
We all have this reward system in our brain, but my solution to this is… truly owning up to your food choices when you sit down to eat. If you eat the whole carton of ice cream and you know that you will be feeling sick and anxious after, but at that moment you are OK with it, then indulge. You are an adult and you get to make your own choice. But don’t moralize it. You choose your behavior. Every choice produces a different outcome and that is the beauty of making your own. You can control the outcome.
1. Stop justifying.
We can come up with a million justifications for why eating healthy on the weekends is hard. It could be…
¥ You were busy or bored.
¥ You were traveling or at home.
¥ You had to work or were celebrating not working.
¥ You had a party or were lonely.
Any excuse is still an excuse, but you are not a victim of circumstance. These justifications do not actually cause overeating, they are just that… the justification that fits the situation.
This is my final solution… stop justifying and ask WHY you are overeating.
Sometimes you just want to eat the junk food and too much of it. That is normal. But instead of blaming it something else, turn the sense around. Are you happy? Sad? Bored? As you start to do this more, you can determine the patterns within yourself. And then instead of using overeating to address those emotions, you can work through them in a different way.
So now what?
I took away all your excuses and gave you some great strategies. There is no perfect time to eat better. Tomorrow will always be busy. Don’t wait till Monday. All you can do is your best each day with the tools you have in place.
So start by asking…
Is weekend overeating working for you? If you love your Cheat day and food free-for-alls and are happy with results you are seeing, then why change it?
Although, if you are conflicted or unhappy. Dive deeper. What does weekend overeating do for you? What is it a path to? What do you get or feel from it? Does it serve a purpose?
Then once you have determined these things, then make a mindset shift and try implementing some of the strategies to break this cycle.
¥ Aim for “good enough” instead of perfect.
¥ Let go of the food rules.
¥ Get rid of “Cheat Days”
¥ Own up to your choices.
¥ Stop justifying.
And guess what? If you “slip up” or revert back to old habit, that is OK! Every meal, every snack, every day is a new opportunity to make a different decision. Overdid it on Friday? No worries, wake up Saturday and start over. Don’t work out more, eat less and punish yourself. Just move on! You got this!