Let’s take a chance to talk about WEEKENDS!
When you take a look at your habits, are there differences between your weekdays and weekends?
What are your weekends like?
Do you follow a guided plan during the weekends or is it all out the window?
Do you crush your week days and feel like you’re on track to reaching your goals...only to the weekends set you back 10 steps? Does your mindset struggle during the weekends? Do you feel foggy and just blah?
Do you feel achy and tight during the weekends?
Does your Monday feel like you’re having to “repair” some damage generated from your weekends?
IF YOU RELATE TO ALL OF THIS, KEEP READING!
Chances are your weekends need some tuning up so you can reach your goals better.
Hopefully as you read through this article, you’ll learn a couple of strategies [& why they matter] to help you navigate your weekends better.
WHY WEEKENDS MATTER
It’s no secret that weekends are drastically important, if we’ve not made that clear.
There are two extreme sides to the weekend conversation. One side, maybe where you’re at now is completely off program. The other side, likely what you’ve heard about, is completely all regimented, full on program, tracking, meal prepping, and likely no enjoyment. Neither side is the solution in our opinions. Too regimented and it’s likely not going to be followed. Too relaxed and uncaring, and results won’t come. While the science might say “calories controlled, all is well”, we know we’re dealing with humans and extenuating circumstances.
The goal of a Clar-e-ty driven diet is to find that sweet spot...the point where you can adhere to a plan that lets you keep seeing results. It allows you to enjoy the sweet things in life and also allows for a mental break as tracking/following a plan can be mentally exhausting.
Let’s do some math.
Say your average maintenance intake is 2500 calories, meaning this is what it takes to fuel your body based on it’s metabolic rate and activity. Your goal is to lose weight, so you eat a deficit intake of 2200 calories. Friday, on top of a somewhat normal intake meaning you eat a roughly 500-calorie breakfast and lunch, you have 3 beers and nachos. You’re accounting for 1500-calorie “fun evening”. This puts you at roughly 2500-calories...maintenance. NOW let’s take Saturday and say you follow almost nothing to plan and have 700-800 calories over breakfast, lunch, and maybe a snack and have a couple of cocktails (3 Old Fashioned drinks = ~800 calories) and pizza (1 large pizza = ~2500 calories). You likely could be upwards into that 4000-calorie intake range. If this is the case, you’re at least 200-calories OVER your plan. Doing this takes your entire week out of a calorie deficit.
So clearly weekends need to have some control around them. If your weekends are so “off program” that they take you OUT of a deficit...and even put you in a surplus, then
Calories form the base of the nutritional hierarchy. If your weekends are taking you out of your ideal balance (calorie deficit to lose weight, maintenance to maintain, surplus to gain), your progress IS going to be limited, reversed, or stalled. We hate to say it, but it doesn’t even matter what your M-Th weekday compliance is if every time you step into a restaurant, you consume enough calories taking you out of that calorie deficit.
HOW TO WIN YOUR WEEKENDS
Make Weekdays Less Restrictive
One way we see weekends get out of hand for many is because the weekdays are SO restrictive that it’s hard to maintain any compliance during the weekends. If you eat 1200 calories Monday-Friday (yet are maintaining at even just 2000 calories), by the time to you get to the weekend, you’ve accumulated a 4000-calorie deficit, which is significant. Many people, men and women alike burn well over 2000 calories at maintenance. Say your maintenance intake is closer to 2500-calories. Eating 1200-calories M-F puts you at a whopping 6500-calorie deficit.
No wonder you can’t adhere to anything on the weekend!! Your body is pretty depleted and not equipped to make rational decisions. Extreme dieting, like this, leads to significant binges, relapses, and drops in biofeedback (poor sleep, energy, hunger, and cravings).
Make your weekdays less restrictive by eating sufficient calories and by including some enjoyable foods that you would gravitate to during the weekends. Include a treat or glass of wine during this time. Enjoy your weeks more to not feel like you “have to” during the weekends.
Follow a Routine
One big reason we see people fall off during the weekends is because they don’t have a routine. Monday through Friday is fairly regimented. You wake up. You go to work. You go to the gym. You eat meals at consistent times. Weekends don’t have this automated routine...
Instead, you need to make one for yourself.
Use mealtimes, movement, and even just a general plan as a way to create a routine. If you have a consistent morning and night routine, KEEP IT even if the times are different.
Make a Plan [& Stick To It]
This is similar to above...except more specific and includes your meals as well.
Make a plan by logging food ahead of time or deciding what you plan on eating. Decide when you’re going to move and what you typically have ahead of you during the weekend...even if it’s a fun night out. PLAN WITH IT INCLUDED!
This is something that we work actively on with our clients in the days leading up to the weekend.
You have to execute your plan, too. It literally means nothing if you decide on the most beautifully drafted up plan...if you do nothing about it or throw it out the window the second you step foot into a restaurant. The plan should be realistic but needs to be there and be followed.
Find Ways to MOVE
Go to the gym.
Get a walk in. Do 30-minutes of stretching.
Do chores. Clean your house. Do yardwork or lawn care.
Move your body. It feels good. It drives routine. It improves your metabolic rate. It enhances recovery. It’s good for you.
Build Lean Muscle Mass
The more lean muscle mass, the higher your metabolic rate. The more lean muscle mass you have, the more flexibility you have as well. The healthier you are, the more days off won’t hurt you.
But that resiliency isn’t built by pure willpower. It’s built by body composition, specifically lean muscle mass. It’s built by maintaining lower body fat percentages.
Even if you’re an endurance athlete, muscle mass is essential. Even if you don’t like to workout or even want to, these are some ways you can improve your weekends. Strength training should have some priority, regardless.
Focus on Biofeedback Wins
When you follow a plan during the weekend and put in effort, do you feel better during the weekends? Is your sleep better? Do you have less pain? Do you have more energy?
If you notice you feel better, PAY ATTENTION TO IT. Use as motivation to keep the momentum.
CLAR-E-TY NUTRITIONAL MANIPULATIONS
You can adjust your calories and habits to allow for more freedom on the weekends, which we will discuss here.
Weekends are a time for many to relax, be social, unwind, and enjoy a bit of doing nothing. Following a rigid plan can get in the way of that. Obsessing over your intake to where you bring your own Tupperware container to dinner or a friends’ gathering can defeat the purpose of healing a relationship with food or simply finding enjoyment in your diet.
One area you can do this is by backing off on habits during the weekend, while maintaining enough habits to keep you on progress.
Let’s say you are following a caloric and macro prescription during the week. One way we’d recommend navigating your weekends is to BACK OFF on some areas you’re tracking. This could mean you’re logging/tracking just protein and/or calories. It also include setting up some sort of meal plan that mimics what you did during the week (so you know calories are accounted for).
If you’re tracking everything under the sun, backing off on even just some of these things can go such a long way.
Refeeds are a form of cycling calories to manipulate them to manage biofeedback, recovery, and hunger/cravings. These are used in many calorie deficits to limit the effects of adaptive thermogenesis and metabolic adaptation (normal parts of calorie deficits). We can use these in calorie deficits to allow for weekend flexibility, but using them in our favor by enhancing biofeedback.
Example: Client maintains at 2500 calories. Linear cut would be at 2200-calories. In a refeed approach, we would cut intake Sun-Thurs to 2000-calories, which “buys” the client 1000 “free” calories to use on the weekend. The client could then eat AT MAINTENANCE 2500-calories Friday & Saturday and still be in the same calorie deficit. This will let them “feel” like they’re indulging, but in reality, the caloric end game is the same.
SET YOUR EXPECTATIONS ACCORDINGLY
The biggest piece here is to set your expectations accordingly.
If you follow no plan on the weekends, if you skip the gym, if you don’t move at all, if you get 5 hours of sleep, set your expectations according to these minimal efforts. In other words, don’t get mad when your results take longer to show compared to someone willing to prioritize their health and progress even when the weekend begins.