This article was adapted from our colleague Dr. Harry Lefebvre from Calgary
For most of us who are working at controlling our weight, the most difficult days to get through are often the weekends (starting Friday afternoon). We often do well following our “diet plan” and exercise routine throughout the week, then along comes Friday and our diligence slips.
First of all, we have to realize what the weekends are. They really are societies’ reward system for working hard at our job or going to school for the previous 5 days. One of the hardest things on a “diet plan” is to get over the idea that we are depriving ourselves of our favourite foods. The same goes for weekends. We get to Friday and we feel that we can’t have any fun because we’re on a diet and can’t go out for a few drinks, or out to our favourite restaurant to unwind. As humans, we don’t like having things taken away from us. My suggestion is to develop a plan that changes your weekend reward system so you don’t feel that anything is taken away from you.
In other words, let’s work on doing different things on the weekends, other than eating and drinking. Starting Monday morning, think about doing fun things on the upcoming weekend that don’t have as much food and drink association. Do things that you’ve been putting off, or haven’t thought about for a while.
Here are a few ideas to get you thinking about this “Weekend Reward Plan:”
• Go to a live theatre production or concert (these don’t have popcorn/candies/pop to deal with).
• Go to the light show at Parliament Hill on a Friday evening.
• Meet a friend for coffee on a Saturday morning.
• Go for a walk. Visually take in the sights and sounds of the flowers or birds.
• Go for a drive.
• Browse through some art galleries or museums that you haven’t seen or would like to see again.
• Do some window shopping at a mall.
• Take in a movie but don’t eat the popcorn that goes with it.
• If you are invited to a dinner party, pre-plan your food strategy: i.e. focus on protein, limit starch/sugar, and aim for smaller amounts. Pre-plan your approach so that you wake up the next day feeling fresh, healthy and not guilty about how much you ate or drank.
• If you decide to have some drinks, choose low-sugar/lower-carb options (i.e. vodka with soda, dry wine, Sleeman Clear) and pair each drink with a full glass of water. This helps prevent fluid retention (and thus, weight gain) the following day.
• Go to the arboretum to look at the trees and flowers if the weather cooperates.
• Do some cleaning inside or out that you’ve been putting off.
• Bike or rollerblade along the parkways on Sunday morning.
• If alone on a Friday or Saturday night, call a friend or relative to catch up.
I firmly believe individuals who have their weight under control have learned to balance their reward system and have learned how to make themselves happy in more ways than with food and drink. Try to keep busy on the weekends. Do things that will set you up for a positive week (i.e. chores, food prep) and also do things that are enjoyable and fun. TGIF will take on a new meaning and you will be looking forward to the weekends so you can reward yourself in new ways. This will go a long way in helping you with long-term weight control.
Be creative. Always look for ways to avoid the mental temptation for food. You can do it. Just keep trying.
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