Monday, April 11, 2011

The weekend realities of weight management.

Does this sound like you - healthy living strategies going great all week long followed by a weekend that's less put together? Consequently you see yourself lose weight all week, only to gain it back each weekend?

Many of my patients struggle with weekends. As I've blogged before, despite not feeling that way, weekends make up nearly 30% of the week, and the sad weight management truth is, a disorganized 30% can outweigh a beautiful 70%.

To put this into some numbers. Let's say during the work week, through your own personal strategies (be they balanced deficits, low-carb, counting points, exercise, combination approaches, etc) you managed to create a true 400 calorie daily deficit. Enjoyed daily, that would likely lead you to lose a pound every 8-12 days allowing for some differences in individual variation in energy efficiencies.

But then the weekend comes. You might go out with friends (food is an essential part of our celebratory and social lives); you might be less organized with eating so as to invite more of a hormonal drive to eat; you might want to kick back and have a few drinks to unwind. Truthfully, given the calorific world we live in, it wouldn't be difficult at all to amass 800 calorie daily surpluses over the weekend, rather than 400 calorie deficits.

Then it's back to your work week, and even if you're fabulous about getting right back to calorie-deficit inducing behaviours, you'll be spending Monday through Thursday just erasing your weekend surpluses, leaving you with one lonely day a week to actually lose weight.

What's so incredibly frustrating for patients with this all too common scenario, is that in actual fact, the vast majority of their week, they're managing things wonderfully, and so it feels (and is) incredibly unfair that two days a week can effectively erase five.

I don't preach that weekends can't be indulgent, I don't tell people to stop eating out, and I don't tell people they're not allowed to drink. We're on this planet once, and for many, indulgences on weekends are a welcome end to each and every week. However, I do preach that at the very least, you ensure your weekends are well organized in terms of food, so that if you do choose to indulge, you choose to do so because it's worth it, and not simply because you're hungry.

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  1. Anonymous7:36 am

    OMG! Were you with me this weekend? I feel like you posted this just for me! I went to bed last night vowing to get better organized on weekends and then this shows up in my mailbox to remind me no only that I need to make food plans for weekends and not go off half cocked but also, and more importantly, that I am not the only one who does this! It is so good to know I am not alone!!!

  2. I do preach that at the very least, you ensure your weekends are well organized in terms of food, so that if you do choose to indulge, you choose to do so because it's worth it, and not simply because you're hungry.

    Truer words ...

  3. I'm with Anonymous!! A good reminder to plan for the weekend like you do the rest of the week.

  4. Anonymous10:43 am

    I did plan. I ate what I'd planned to eat. Then, I ate more. It seemed like such a happy thing to do. It's Spring! The sun was shining and people were out looking good and laughing, heads thrown back, hahaha. Some men were skipping and leaping. It just seemed like a cupcake kind of morning.

  5. Anonymous3:46 pm

    Wow, this was ME this weekend! Actually, this is me on a lot of weekends. I worked so hard all last week and then almost had heart failure when I stood on the scale this morning. When will I ever learn??

    Great post. The 70/30% reality really struck a chord. And the idea of having to work hard for four days just to make up for one bad weekend? That put it all into perspective for me. Thank you!

  6. motera9:16 pm

    The opposite is true for me- great on the weekends when I can control my time and my obligations, tougher during the week when the demands of work can get in the way. What is consistent though is the ease by which we can undo the good with getting off track for part of the week.

  7. An obvious issue almost all of us, including myself, confront. Wonderful insight into the challenges of healthy eating against indulgent habits.

  8. Anonymous9:49 am

    A start. I'm still trying to figure out on which hard drive I stashed that Swedish exercise PDF.

  9. Whoa! I'm guilty of this.. this post is really so true I can relate to this. I always make it to the point that I check what I eat on weekdays but forgets everything on the weekend, reason for giving my self some indulgence..just to realize, it messes up my goal :'(