Raise your hand if you are someone who eats super clean all week and binges from Friday evening till Sunday. So, this is an article, not a seminar, but I BET a bunch of you are at least nodding in agreement, right?? So many of my clients fall into this category. Monday through about 4:00 on Friday, they eat really well with lots of protein and veggies. You know, the Heart In Motion way…and then Friday afternoon hits. Suddenly, without warning, they start having these thoughts that have been completely nonexistent all week…”I’ve been so good that I’m just going to treat myself,” “I don’t want to live a life of DEPRIVATION,” or “I just can’t think about eating healthy ALL the time!”
This type of patterned “derailed” thinking patterns lead to derailed behaviors which can then lead to a 2.5 day free for all with food that leaves you bloated, uncomfortable, and frustrated. What I am trying to get you to see is that it is the breakdown of thought patterns and perceptions that make weekend binge behavior actually happen. If you are one for whom this is a pattern, read below for some great steps on how to stop this pattern in your life.
- Ditch perfection during the week. If you relax the food rules just a little bit during the week, you will be far less likely to go crazy on the weekend. This is not giving yourself permission to eat a pint of Ben and Jerry’s every Monday night, but try to understand the concept. Here is an example…if you go out for dinner on a Monday night and you are following your strict weekday rules, you will have chicken, a salad, and 2 veggies. You will ignore the french fries on your husband’s plate and never even touch one because you have vowed to be super clean and follow the rules so the number on the scale will say exactly what you need it to say. Now, take the scenario from a different perspective…suppose that you go out for the same dinner on a Monday night and instead of being super strict and avoiding the french fries, you have your normal dinner, but you have 3 of the fries off his plate. Sounds simple, but it really does work. If you allow yourself just little treats here and there (I’m not talking about ordering your own entire serving of fries), then you will not have the same compulsion to overeat them on the weekends. It is not deprivation that leads to binge but DEPRIVATION MENTALITY that does. If you give yourself freedom to make choices all of the time, then the food never develops a grip on you that leads to weekend bingeing. Keep in mind, some people struggle with trigger foods, and that is a discussion for another time.
- Give up cheat day mentality. As we said above, there is nothing wrong with having an occasional treat, no matter what anyone tells you, but when it becomes an entire day or a license to binge, it can become a pattern that births a problem. Cheat days have long been a strategy used in the bodybuilding world and have transitioned into the world of weight loss in a way that has become distorted in the way they are implemented. Without going into much physiology, cheat days are almost necessary in the bodybuilding world to refuel the body from the severe deprivation those athletes endure, but they are done very strategically. No matter how clean you eat, it is nowhere near the diet of the average bodybuilder, and I would bet that your cheat days are not super precise either. See step 1 above. If you do not carry such a restrictive perspective on food, there is nothing to “cheat” on.
- Stop rationalizing. I tell clients this all the time. No matter what you tell yourself, your body knows what is going into it. No matter how you justify going crazy on the weekend, your body will always tell the truth. Own your choices. If you choose to have a treat on the weekend, don’t make a big deal about it. As I said earlier, treats are no big deal. It is we as humans who make them a big deal, thus giving food POWER over us. Food has no power unless we give it power. See your choices for what they are and compensate for them. If you have a treat on the weekend, just follow the next day with cleaner choices. The bigger deal you make about it, the more guilt and shame will set in, leading to even more rationalized choices.
- Start the weekend with a plan. Yes, weekends are often the time for no planning and relaxing, which is wonderful…to a point. When trying to change a behavior, it’s always best to kick it with a new behavior or association. Instead of just letting the weekend happen to you, employ a little planning. Look up the restaurant ahead of time and choose before you go. If you are going out for the day, grab an apple and some almonds so if you do decide to spontaneously eat out, you can have a little something in the car on the way there so you don’t dive head first into the bread bowl. An ounce of prevention is truly worth a pound of cure. Think about the small things listed above and what an impact they would have on your weekend eating habits. There are hundreds more ideas that I could list, but I want you to come up with your own that will work for you.
Weekend mentality can be a trick thing to master, but it is possible. I see sustainable life change happen in my practice every day. Maybe the ideas above will work for you, and maybe they won’t. Maybe these ideas will spur you to think of something different that you need to work on. Maybe you need to work on your business trip mentality or vacation mentality or late night mentality. No matter what your struggle, the majority of them start with thought processes, so the change must start there as well.
STEP(S) FOR THIS WEEK:
- Sit down and make a bullet list of your weekend struggles. List out the thought processes behind the actions. Once you have compiled that list, brainstorm ideas and write them down as to what you can do instead. There is always a solution. You sometimes just have to think outside the box to find it. Being proactive always beats being reactive, so identify your trouble spots now so you can begin to work on them. Try not to generalize. Be specific, and really think of the thought processes behind the actions. If you have any questions or need support, I am always available at firstname.lastname@example.org.