In Session with Debbie: Weekend Strategies

This week I had a session with my client, Rachel.  Historically, Rachel was a dieter who was able to eat healthfully during the week but would tend to “lose it” during the weekends.  Over the last few weeks, Rachel and I have been working hard to come up with strategies, techniques, and responses to her weekend sabotaging thoughts so that she would be able to maintain her control throughout the weekend.  When Rachel came to see me this week, she told me that things have finally turned around for her and that she’s noticed a significant change in her ability to stay on track during the weekend.  How did Rachel do this?

Rachel ate the same way she did during week days.  Rachel says one of the most important shifts she has made is finally accepting that, if she wants to lose weight and keep it off, her weekend eating just can’t be all that different from her weekday eating. Rachel started reminding herself that her body doesn’t know or care that it’s the weekend and that it will process all calories the same no matter what day of the week it is.

Rachel stuck to a weekend eating schedule. One strategy that really helped Rachel gain control over her eating during the week was following a set schedule of eating. This enabled her to cut out the all-day grazing she used to do because she had defined times for when she would eat and when she wouldn’t. Initially, Rachel resisted following this schedule during the weekend, saying that she wanted her weekends to have more spontaneity.  Rachel found, however, that not having an eating schedule on the weekend led her back to constantly grazing in the kitchen and continually asking herself, “Should I have eat now?” This meant that she struggled with whether or not to eat so much more often than she did during the week – and it also meant that she took in many more calories.  Rachel realized that it was worth giving up her eating spontaneity (but not necessarily her activity spontaneity) if it meant she regained her sense of peace!

Rachel began exercising at least once during the weekend. Rachel was always good at getting herself to exercise during the week, but she used to think that weekends were an excuse to not move a muscle. Rachel knew that, on the days she exercised during the week, it made her feel better, more energized, and more easily able to stick to healthy eating.  Rachel realized that not exercising on the weekend played into her “unhealthy weekend” mindset, and that getting herself to do at least 30 minutes of walking outside, either Saturday or Sunday, made her feel just as good as it did during the week.  Rachel changed her thought from, “Exercising on the weekend will make my weekend worse,” to, “Exercising on the weekend will make me feel great, just as it does during the week. It makes my weekend better, not worse.”

Rachel got out of the kitchen when it wasn’t a time to eat.  During the week, Rachel works in an office and can’t spend the whole day hanging out in her work kitchen.  During the weekend, however, Rachel was in the habit of spending a lot of time in her kitchen because it’s one of her favorite rooms in her house. Rachel realized that this was really working against her because the more time she spent in her kitchen, the harder it was for her not to think about food and eating.  Rachel instead set up a nice area for herself in her living room, with a new chair she really liked, and decided that, at least for the time being, the kitchen would only be for eating, not for hanging out. This made a huge difference for Rachel because once she wasn’t constantly looking at food, it made it easier to focus on other things.

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3 comments

  1. Really useful tips! Just wanna share some of my own habits I keep to make the weekends a bit more manageable:

    I used to skip reading my cards on weekends, because I normally read them on my way to school/work, and come weekends I don’t need to commute so it’s easy to skip it. But I realised it’s important to keep reminding myself that it’s ESPECIALLY important to read them on weekends, when I tend to stray off. I added this last reminder on my advantage card, reminding myself why it’s important to read the cards throughout the week, and I realised it helps me to continue reading them on weekends too!

    I stick to my workout routine on weekends, waking up in the morning and work out as per normal. I remind myself that (1) it’s better to have a normal sleep/wake up schedule throughout the week (instead of grossly oversleeping on weekends. But I do sleep say 15-20min more on weekends) and (2) weekends = more time = longer workouts possible! To change things up, I try to do a new workout video on weekends/ go for a run in the park, something different to keep myself excited.

    There have been many many times when I overeat on weekends and feel so horrible come Monday, and will try to “compensate”, making myself more miserable and more likely to let go on Fridays. It’s a vicious cycle. Now, I made a card reminding myself why it’s not really “enjoyable” to let it all go on weekends – I don’t want to “enjoy” 2 days and feel miserable for the rest of the week. A consistent eating plan makes me much happier and peaceful. Moreover, the weight loss registry has shown that people who lost weight and keep it off eats consistently, weekday or weekend. Really useful to keep reminding myself of that.

    My spontaneity on weekends is, instead of planning my meals, I allocate calories instead. Say I plan to have xx calories for breakfast, xx calories for lunch etc. This gives me flexibility, and I don’t feel soooo restricted. That said, in a way I guess I do subconsciously plan my meals, cuz I will think “I really want to try that new coffee/ granola etc. I will have it as a treat during the weekend”. Then, I will mentally scale back my calories for other meals accordingly to balance things out. This makes me feel I’m treating myself (I am!) without losing all control.

    As for spending time in the kitchen, I understand how nice it feels to be finally able to spend time at home and in the kitchen. So what I try to do is to cook my weekday meals over the weekend! This allows me to spend time cooking – something I enjoy – without eating toooo much (otherwise there won’t be food for my weekday meals). And it preps me for the week too. Double whammy!

    Hope these tips are helpful for people out there! And thank you for updating the blog – I really enjoy the articles and find them informative and relatable! (:

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