The weekend weight gain curseiStock/Jacob Ammentorp Lund
Weekends can wreak havoc on your waistline. “A lot of healthy habits we have during the week, such as drinking water at our desks and eating meals at a regular time, go away then,” says Bonnie Taub-Dix, RDN, owner of Betterthandieting.com and author of Read It Before You Eat It. What’s more, many people reward themselves with food for making it through a tough week. Result? “Overeating, inappropriate eating, skipping meals and drinking more alcohol,” Taub-Dix says. It all adds up: Americans take in more calories on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday (115 extra per day, according to one estimate) than the rest of the week. No surprise, then, that most adults weigh more on Monday morning than they do first thing Friday. And while some of us compensate for weekend overindulging by eating less on weekdays, many don’t. Here, some easy ways to make your weekends as—or more—waist-friendly than your workdays. Need major weight-loss motivation? Here’s the secret weight-loss advice used by the folks on The Biggest Loser and other reality shows.
Go out and play!iStock/vjgajic
Weekends are a great time to pack in more physical activity. But don’t think about exercising—that could actually backfire. In one study, participants walked the same one-mile course, but half were told it was exercise; the rest thought they were just listening to music. Afterward, the “exercisers” were more tired and scarfed down more sugary treats at a lunch buffet. Think about the fun aspects of your physical activity, and you may feel happier and snack more mindfully. “The word ‘exercise’ seems more like a weekday thing, what you do before and after work,” says Taub-Dix. Instead, find fun stuff you can do during your time off that you can’t do on work days. Put on music and dance (408 calories per hour). Ride a real bike (543 calories). Take your dog for a long walk (237 calories). Putter in your garden (339 calories). Bonus points for any activity you do outside in nature. A large body of research says that exposure to green environments boosts your mood, and people in good moods tend to eat less.