How do you spend your weekends? Taking a closer look at your unhealthy weekend habits can help you steer clear of setbacks and keep you on track with your weight-loss goals. Do you stick to the routines you’ve established during the week, or do you tend to let your healthy habits slide? While it may seem harmless to allow yourself to indulge for just a couple of days, certain behaviors can have a negative effect on your weight-loss efforts, even if you’re limiting these practices to weekends.
If you’re practicing any of these eight unhealthy weekend habits, you may want to make some changes in order to get closer to your weight-loss goals.
1. You go overboard with eating out
After eating healthy all week long, you may be tempted to reward yourself on weekends with takeout and fast food, or indulge in meals and desserts at your favorite restaurants. But if you’re doing this on Friday evening and for some or all meals Saturday and Sunday, you may be negating all the hard work you’re doing the rest of the week. Instead of allowing yourself to indulge every day of the weekend, limit yourself to just one “splurge” meal or dessert so you can treat yourself without experiencing a major setback.
2. You become a couch potato
Sitting down for long periods of time is linked to obesity and metabolic syndrome — the latter of which includes symptoms such as high blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess abdominal fat, and high LDL cholesterol levels. Prolonged periods of sitting also increase the risk of death among those who suffer from cancer and heart disease.
If you typically spend your weekends lounging on the couch reading or binge-watching your favorite TV shows, make a habit of getting up every 30 minutes to walk around and stretch. Or, find a healthier balance of couch time and physical activity so you’re not putting yourself at risk of disease and weight gain.
3. You overtrain at the gym
Those who are unable to visit the gym during the week due to work, school, or family obligations may try making up for it on Saturday and Sunday. They may spend hours at the gym, or try to cram a week’s worth physical activities into one day. However, training too intensely on the weekends after not exercising all week can increase your risk of injury. You may also experience severe muscle soreness that affects the way you feel and function for days afterwards, and that can cause setbacks in your work and home life as well.
Make exercise a priority in your schedule, and find time to exercise most days of the week — even if it’s just for 20 or 30 minutes. Do strength-training exercises at home, or go for walks in your neighborhood in the mornings and/or evenings. If you have no option but to exercise on weekends, do a thorough warm-up to loosen your muscles, then stretch following your workout to reduce the risk of injury and muscle soreness.
4. You consume too much alcohol
It’s normal and socially acceptable to enjoy a few beers or glasses of wine on the weekend. But many alcoholic beverages are high in sugar and calories that can easily set you back if you overdo it. Plus, alcohol lowers your inhibitions and makes you more prone to overeating and making unhealthy food choices. Avoid binge drinking or drinking every day of the weekend, and limit yourself to just a few drinks when you do drink.
5. You spend time with people who drain your energy
The weekends should be your personal time to enjoy your favorite people and activities, and to recover from the demands of a busy week. But if you’re spending your weekends with people who make you feel drained or who keep you busy with their own drama, you can end up losing sight of your own priorities. Plus, negative emotions like stress, frustration, and depression can interfere with your hormones, which can increase appetite and drive weight gain.
Start setting boundaries with anyone who is demanding your time and draining your energy throughout the weekend — even if those people happen to be close friends or family members. For instance, explain to your mother that you are unavailable to talk on the phone before noon on the weekends because you’re exercising or spending quality time with your spouse and children.
6. You stay connected to work on the weekends
A healthy lifestyle calls for a healthy work-life balance, which means you should devote your weekends to recovering and allowing yourself to mentally refresh. But staying tuned in to work all weekend long, whether it involves reading emails or doing research for a project, can increase stress and exhaustion levels, and leave you feeling too tired to even think about exercise and healthy eating.
If you must stay connected to work, limit yourself to thinking about and doing work for only 30 minutes per day so you can devote the rest of your weekend to focusing on your personal goals and other priorities.
7. You stay busy with errands
Errands such as grocery shopping, going to the bank, and washing your car can feel like work, which defeats the purpose of being able to enjoy a fun, refreshing weekend and recovering from the work week. Instead of saving all your errands for the weekend, build them into your weekday schedule so you have time for more fulfilling activities on weekends. Busying yourself with errands on Saturday and Sunday can make for burnout and an unhealthy weekend, and can lead you to neglect your nutrition and fitness routine.
8. You suffer anxiety on Sunday nights
After enjoying a relaxed, fun-packed weekend, some people experience depression and anxiety on Sunday night as they begin to worry about work again. This undue stress and anxiety can negatively impact your overall health and cause hormonal imbalances that directly affect your weight and your health.
When your thoughts begin to stray on Sunday night, start practicing mindfulness to relieve your anxiety and bring yourself back to the present moment. Or, make a list of all the things you have to do on Monday so you can put those thoughts out of your mind and deal with them in the morning.
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