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How to stick to your health goals — but still enjoy your weekend

These habits will help you have some fun while maintaining the progress you’ve made during the week.
Plan a fun weekend activity that involves movement like a walk outdoors with friends.
Plan a fun weekend activity that involves movement like a walk outdoors with friends.Peter Muller / Getty Images

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When you’re on a roll health-wise, the weekends can be your toughest challenge. It’s easy to say “yes” to going out to eat with friends (and then overeating or drinking too much) or skipping a workout to attend an event or social gathering. However, there are ways to fight back against these pressures and continue to make progress when it comes to your health — without sacrificing your social life.

It’s all about your mindset. As a weight-loss coach, I spend a lot of time working with my clients on changing their mindset about healthy living so that it’s more attainable and less of a burden, especially on the weekends, which are supposed to be “fun” and “relaxing.”

To do this, we create habits that fit into the weekend mentality. Forcing yourself to stick to the same workout routine you follow during the week or prohibiting yourself from enjoying a glass of wine or ice cream cone will only result in feeling deprived.

I’ve created a list of ways to stay on track — and not sabotage your progress on the weekends — that will still allow you to enjoy yourself without going off the rails. The more you practice these healthy habits, the easier they’ll become!

Plan a fun activity that involves some form of movement

One way to ensure that you don’t miss out on exercise is to incorporate it into your weekend plans. If you like to take a break on the weekends, that’s fine. There are plenty of lower-intensity activities that involve moving without feeling like exercise. Try taking a walk into town, going on a bike ride with your family, or planning an outing to the driving range or batting cages with friends.

One of my favorite things to do is to walk to the farmer’s market with a friend and get a green juice. It’s active, it’s social and it always boosts my mood. I encourage my clients to stay active with their families, too. Whether you’re at your kids sporting event and walk laps around the field, or you’re scheduling a play date with another family and meet at the park instead of inside, finding ways to stay active becomes easier and easier the more you do it!

Drink lots of water

I like to make this one of the first habits my clients form because it's such an easy one to commit to. It doesn't have to affect your weekend plans whatsoever — just fill up a water bottle and keep it with you all day. Making one, small healthy choice often sets you up to make other choices.

Plus, staying hydrated may help you avoid overeating on weekends. It’s easy to say yes to going out to eat at a nice restaurant, and that’s a good thing! However, that doesn’t mean you have to fall into the trap of overeating a high-calorie meal. Sometimes we mistake thirst for hunger. Be sure to drink half your body weight in ounces of water per day to stay properly hydrated.

Allow yourself unhealthy foods

Yes, you read that right. Many of my weight-loss clients are nervous before we start working together. They wonder if I’m going to make them give up their favorite sweets, cocktails or indulgences. I do not believe in this and of course it is not sustainable!

Psychologically if we allow ourselves to enjoy unhealthy foods in moderation, and they’re no longer “off limits”, they seem less enticing. So tell yourself it is OK to enjoy a treat. You won't feel deprived of indulgences, which often leads us to binge on the unhealthy foods. What ends up happening with many of my clients is that once they see progress from eating healthy, they naturally want to eat less of the unhealthy foods anyway!

Try cooking a new meal

It can be challenging to meal prep on the weekdays. The weekends usually give us the time to cook or try something new. Instead of going out to eat on the weekend, cook a new recipe you find interesting. Try to incorporate a seasonal vegetable or a cultural flair. Get your kids involved or invite a friend in person or over Zoom to cook with you!

Do a yoga routine in the morning

Yoga is a great way to improve flexibility and increase relaxation without performing a high-intensity workout routine on the weekends. I recommend beginning Saturday and Sunday mornings with a quick yoga routine. Whether it be five minutes or an hour, relaxing your mind and body before beginning your day helps to center yourself, combat stress and remind you that you’re a priority and so are your health goals.

Know before you go

Arriving at a restaurant with an empty stomach and no idea what you’re going to order can be dangerous when you’re trying to stick to a healthy diet. I recommend checking out the menu beforehand so that you can make an informed decision on the meal you’re about to eat. And yes, you can enjoy a glass of wine or end the meal with dessert! Easing up a bit on the weekends will make it easier to stick with your healthy diet and exercise during the week.