For many of us, weekends are a chance to relax, unwind, and have fun. No one wants to place rules or restrictions on their days off, but being mindful of destructive or damaging habits could benefit you physically, emotionally, and mentally — and ultimately help you reach your biggest health goals. If you’re guilty of any of these seven unhealthy weekend habits, it may be time to break the cycle and start spending your weekends in ways that refresh, restore, and rejuvenate you.
1. You overindulge
If you’ve successfully stuck to your diet all week, it’s natural to want to indulge a bit during the weekend — whether that means grabbing pizza with friends on Friday night or treating yourself to ice cream on Sunday afternoon. Festivals, vacations, and other fun activities can also make it difficult to stick to your normal way of eating. While an occasional treat is sometimes okay, you should try to keep any “off plan” foods to no more than ten percent of your total diet. If you allow yourself too many weekend treats, you may soon find yourself sliding back into old habits and undoing all the progress you made during the week.
If you find yourself overeating on the weekends, keep yourself on track with these tips:
- Figure out why you’re tempted to indulge. Are you recovering from a stressful work week? Try some other tactics for combating emotional eating, and when cravings strike, take a brisk walk instead — it can help reduce the urge to eat when you’re under stress.
- Stay hydrated. If you’re out and about, take a reusable water bottle with you. When you feel the urge to snack, drink water instead — thirst can often be mistaken for hunger.
- Find healthy alternatives to some of your favorite foods. You can make a healthier version of just about anything if you’re willing to experiment a little! Try baking with sugar alcohols and grain-free flours like coconut flour. If you’re absolutely craving fries, make some baked sweet potato fries. Download our healthy recipe book for more ideas!
Bonus: In addition to keeping your weight-loss goals on track, eating healthier on the weekends will help you avoid feeling bloated, tired, and guilty when Monday morning rolls around.
2. You start drinking early
Sometimes after a long week of work, all you want is a drink. But if you start drinking at your afternoon barbecue, the calories can add up quickly. Just one frozen cocktail can range from 200 to 800 calories. And the more you drink, the more likely you are to make unwise choices in other areas — including the food you eat. Not to mention, a hangover can really ruin your weekend. Control how much you drink on your days off by limiting drinking to the evenings, using smaller glasses, and drinking a glass of water after every alcoholic beverage.
3. You cram too much into your schedule
Many people try to fit as much into the weekend as possible. But if you spend your entire weekend running errands or going to games and parties, you may find yourself stressed and exhausted by the time Sunday evening rolls around. Make sure to schedule some downtime so you feel relaxed and ready for the coming week. Block out periods of time to unwind and relax. If you feel like there’s just too much on your to-do list, take a look at your tasks and decide what’s absolutely essential and what can wait.
4. You turn into a couch potato
On the other hand, some people tend to spend the weekend being completely inactive. It can be tempting to grab your favorite spot on the sofa and binge watch a new show all weekend, but doing so sets you up to feel stiff, sore, and tired the rest of the week. Barely budging from the couch for two days straight can reduce blood flow, slow your digestion, and stiffen up your joints and ligaments. Make sure you get some activity into your weekend, even if it’s just going for a walk.
5. You keep checking in with work
Giving yourself a mental break is an important part of relaxing and unwinding. If you’re constantly on your phone or checking your work email, you’ll never really feel like you had time off. And, friends and family members may feel neglected. Try to make a rule not to check your work email on the weekend. If you must check on a project, give yourself a set window of time to do so, and don’t let it take over your entire day.
6. You stay up too late
In an effort to make the most out of your weekend, you might be prone to staying up late on Fridays and Saturdays. This leads to sleeping much later than usual, which can disrupt your sleeping patterns for the rest of the week, lead to sleep deprivation, and even cause weight gain. It’s best to stick to a normal sleep schedule as much as possible, even on weekends.
7. You sleep too much
The weekend may seem like the ideal time to “catch up” on lost sleep, but experts say this approach doesn’t work. Sleeping 10 hours on the weekend to make up for getting only 6 hours of sleep during the week can actually impair your reaction times and ability to focus, according to a Harvard Medical School study. Aim for between 7 and 9 hours of sleep every night. While you can reset your sleep cycle if something throws it off — such as working a new schedule or traveling to a different time zone — you should try to avoid constantly making changes to your sleep schedule.
Building lasting, healthy habits is the key to reducing your risk of disease, maintaining a healthy weight, and feeling your best. Want more tips? Download our free e-book, Habits of Successful Weight Loss Patients, and learn the habits that have helped thousands of our patients transform their lives!
Medically reviewed by Jay J. Garcia, MD on May 11, 2018