The battle of the bulge only gets tougher on weekends, holidays and vacations. I can be pretty darn good during the week, when I'm cooking at home, exercising routinely, and drinking alcohol very lightly if at all. Then Friday rolls around, the social calendar fills up, and all bets are off. If I can get on the scale Monday morning and have no change from Friday morning, I consider it a victory.
Problem is, I gained a couple pounds on a recent vacation and need to be losing, not staying the same. What's the answer?
Here's a tip from the folks at Real Age. I think their best advice is that we should keep a food diary on weekends -- write it down. That might be hard at a July 4th cookout party, but I'm betting that the payoff will be significant. Shall we try it this weekend?
Q: Why is it that when I go on a healthy weight loss plan, I lose barely a pound a week, but after the weekend, I've gained back more than a pound! It feels like I can't go out and have a glass of wine and dessert occasionally because it will take me a month to undo the damage.
-- Isi Paraparaumu, Wellington, NZ
A: You're a victim of the "weekend effect": extra pounds that suddenly appear on Monday morning and take weeks to lose. But it's not the glass of wine or occasional dessert that's creating those love handles you hate. On weekends, you're probably taking in way more calories than you realize. A 2008 study at Washington University School of Medicine found that dieters consistently gained weight on the weekends while losing weight during the week because they ate more on weekends. When you're kicking back, a few more chips and another margarita or a second slice of pizza-with-the-works seems okay because you were "good all week." You probably also eat out more on weekends, and at many restaurants, "single" portions are big enough to feed a family of three (seriously) yet find their way into your body of one.
So here's our action plan for all weekends, not just one: Don't drop your guard on Friday night and pick it up again Monday morning. Walk more. (Try this walking workout at home). Try to lose a little on most weekends. And keep a food diary: Writing down what you eat, especially on weekends, will help you have that glass of wine with no regrets.