During the process of trying to get in shape, many people are disciplined during the week. You train hard, eat clean, get your cardio in and perform well in other areas, such as sleep, stress and digestion. This gives you great confidence that you can achieve your fitness goals.
However, the weekend arrives and the plan can suddenly fall apart. You go out drinking with friends, binge on takeaway food, do very little exercise and then all of your hard work during the week can be undone. It is a problem for many people, especially those who live active social lives. So, how can you prevent this? How can you make sure that you stay on track on the weekend, still enjoy yourself and keep the momentum going?
Keep Training and Exercising
One of the best things you can do is keep getting your exercise in. This does not necessarily mean you have to train – you may have already done three sessions during the week, which is enough – but more that you should keep active. This could be playing some sport or doing some low-intensity cardio such as walking 10k steps, going for a run, cycling or swimming – it is important that your energy output is still high on the weekend so that you keep burning calories.
If you have not trained much during the week, you will need to get in a session on the weekend, so that you stay on track and don’t fall behind. Aim to make the session intense, enjoyable and effective, with a focus on hitting 2-3 muscle groups and prioritising the heavier, more demanding compound lifts at the start of the workout. If you stay consistent with your training and exercise, the potential damage by later decisions to do with food and drink will be reduced.
Plan Ahead With Your Food
The next point is very important when it comes to your nutrition – an area where so many people slip up on. It is common not to have an idea of what you will be eating for the day and therefore indulge on junk food that will drastically take you over your calorie limit. Planning is crucial in many areas of life and your diet is no different. You don’t need to have a regimented eating plan, but more of an idea of the foods that you both like and that are aligned with your goals.
This also means being smart with your calories. For example, if you know you are going to have a big meal at a restaurant on a Saturday night, eating less throughout that day and saving a good portion of those calories for that meal will mean that you can enjoy yourself and not go over your calorie intake for the day. So, be aware of what you are going to eat and plan accordingly. This will make sure that you stay on track.
Find a Balance
It is important that we enjoy ourselves on the weekend and your routine does not have to be ultra-strict, but at the same time you should be responsible with your nutrition, which means not drastically exceeding your calorie intake. This can quite easily happen if you over-indulge on calorie-dense foods in restaurants, takeaway shops or even when getting snacks for the evening.
So, if you are going out for a few drinks or a meal, enjoy yourself but don’t go crazy. If you want to have a couple of beers and socialise, then you can do so and not harm your progress, likewise if you go out for a meal or get a takeaway in the evening. However, you should be mindful of what foods to be careful with and even avoid. For example, any meal that is high in fats and sugar is going to be calorie-dense, so it may be a smarter choice to go for a leaner meal and a different dessert. If you want to go for higher calorie options, then saving your calories throughout the day will make sure that you don’t drastically exceed your calorie intake.
Maintain Good Sleep Habits
Many people underestimate the importance of sleep when it comes to weight loss or fat loss, but there are several reasons why it needs to be a priority. A high-quality night’s sleep of 7-9 hours gives your body much-needed rest and recovery from your daily exercise and tasks, which is also crucial to progression. Furthermore, you produce a large portion of your growth hormone when you sleep, particularly in the first two hours. In order to build lean muscle tissue and burn fat efficiently, we need growth hormones, and as your growth hormone levels decrease gradually in your late 20’s, the importance of sleep then increases.
Sleep also produces Melatonin in the pineal gland and is involved in energy metabolism. It also balances your cortisol levels (the stress hormone that is part of our survival mechanism), and your levels of your insulin (the major hormone that controls your blood sugar levels), which is vital for your body to be able to rest and recover from your activity during the day.
During the weekend, you run the risk of losing sleep due to potential night’s out or staying up socialising with friends. As a result, it can lead to an interruption in sleep patterns, which affects your productivity the next day. So, enjoy yourself but make sure that you are not staying up too late and stay consistent with your 7-9 hours during the week. This way, you will have had a great evening with friends/family, stayed on track with your sleep and are ready to attack the next day.
Surround Yourself With Supportive People
One of the big problem areas for people on the weekend is that they give in to peer pressure. This is mainly because friends want you to be doing the same things as them and enjoying your time together to the max. As a result, you can often drink more than you initially planned and over-eat at a restaurant or takeaway, which not only takes you well over your calorie limit, but also makes you lose track of how many calories you have actually consumed, therefore giving you little idea of the action steps you need to take for the following days to reduce the damage.
So, if you go out on the weekend, make sure that you let people know what your goal is, whether it is fat loss, weight loss or just wanting to improve your health, and inform them that you are only going to have 2-3 drinks or a reasonable meal at a restaurant. That way, your friends will have a much better idea of why you are only having a certain amount. Good friends should support you and not force you to go overboard. If this is a problem, you may want to surround yourself with more of those types of people to help you stay on track and achieve your goals.
Stay consistent with your progress can be hard for people over the weekend when other temptations arise, but there are ways to help you stay on track. This involves staying active, whether it be with a training session or some form of cardio, planning ahead with your food, finding a balance between binging and over restricting to help you stay within your calorie intake, and maintaining good sleep habits. Integrate these tips into your weekend routine and you will be able to enjoy yourself, whilst progressing with your fitness goals at the same time.
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