Editorial: holiday weekend: the enemy of weight loss


Holiday weekend – a weight loss challenge.  

Obesity on Scale

Obesity on Scale

Weight loss during the week is easy.  Holidays and weekends are a challenge.  We made it through Thanksgiving and Christmas.  Now, welcome to January.  I am headed into the four days weekend: the weekend of the MLK Day holiday.  The holiday weekends are not helpful for maintaining a healthy lifestyle.   Family and friends make are near impossible to make healthy choices.  Gaining weight on weekends when you like to relax and watch TV is almost certain.  I almost dread the time off because I know I will be playing catchup the following week.   

Here are some tips to help you get through the weekend holidays or just weekends in general:

  • Plan ahead.  The weekend may feel like tiny vacations, but that does not mean that you should like there is no tomorrow.  Planning your meals ahead of time can prevent the times of indecision where you turn to your spouse or kids and ask “what do you want to eat?”  There is no worse enemy to weight gain than moments of weakness when you need to decide while hungry.  You can prevent Monday morning regret.  Commit to a healthy lifestyle and have a plan to eat healthfully at all meals. 
  • Allow yourself small splurges.  Small limited size portion of desserts and other cravings can scratch the craving itch without busting the calorie bank.  It is hard to plan cravings, but you know what you like, so keep a small amount of the thing you love locked away for a rainy day.  If you are out and need a dessert, share it to avoid eating it all or leave portions on the table.  This suggestion will help you avoid regret when you step back on the scale.  
  • Take care of yourself.  Sleep and rest are a vital part of your recuperation from stress.  Rushing around and working during the week and wear down your mind and body.  Although you cannot catch up on sleep during the weekends, you certainly do not need to compound the problem by getting even less sleep.  Allow yourself enough time for a good night’s sleep.
  • Don’t skip your weigh-in.   Your scale is your accountability partner.  You cannot know how you are doing without stepping on it, so avoid going for long periods without weighing yourself.  Step on the scale and get a good dose of reality.  
  • Don’t skip exercise.  I would say that weekends are the perfect time to get more exercise.   Exercise is a great stress reliever. Stick to your routine and add a little family time outdoors exercising.
  • Skip the alcohol.  Alcohol in moderation is ok, but alcohol is also a source of empty calories.  If you are having trouble losing or keeping weight off, the last thing you need is empty calories.   
  • If you are hungry, eat!  Skipping or delaying meals will not help with long-term weight loss.    
    When you alter your eating schedule, you will increase hunger and snacking.  This change will increase your appetite and cravings, and you will strap on the feed bag.   Listen to your body and eat.  
  • Choose wisely. Make smart food choices.  Pick foods that will keep you full longer.  I often make a point of preparing a few healthy snack bags for emergencies.  Eat lots of veggies, dairy, fruits, lean meats, and nuts will keep you full but pay close attention to portion sizes.  Dairy and nuts, in particular, can really add up quickly if you mindlessly eat them.

The bottom line:  Staying on track during the weekend is difficult, but you do not need to give up.  Weekends are a diet challenge, but they do not need to torpedo your diet.  Weekend diet vacations do not work and weekend eating is indeed a major factor in weight control.   If you slip up, it is not the end of the world, so get back on the horse and use these tips to stay on it.  

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About the Author

I am a family physician who has served in the US Army. In 2016, I found myself overweight, out of shape, and unhealthy, so I made a change to improve my health. This blog is the chronology of my path to better health and what I have learned along the way.

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