Monday to Friday, nine to five, I can easily survive on a healthy diet of veggies, porridge, nuts, seeds, protein and sugarless carbs. I strut around the office and dismiss offers of chocolate, smirking as I say, ‘No thanks, I’m off sugar’. My skin is clear, my ‘poonch’ (the affectionate name for the lovely fat roll that smothers my hips) has disappeared and I couldn’t care less about food.
The weekends, however, are my undoing. All I can think about is food! The inner west of Sydney is my little hub of gluttony – the endless restaurant signs scream at me, ‘Thai! Italian! Greek! Indian! Pizza! Sugar! Sugar! Sugar!’ The supermarket becomes my enemy. I no longer see the rich Greek yoghurt, rich red tomatoes and ripened avocados. Instead, I become fixated on Doritors, donuts and those bloody Reese’s Miniatures!
To combat my weekend write-offs, I’ll attempt to read a chapter from David Guillespie’s Sweet Poison Quit Plan. I’ll flick through Sarah Wilson’s I Quit Sugar e-book. I’ll cook a big batch of scrummy vegetable ‘something-a-rother’. But nothing works.
It doesn’t help that Saturday and Sunday mornings I work up a massive appetite doing rowing training or racing. It also doesn’t help that I’m an all-or-nothing girl. You know the drill – the packet of Tim Tams is sitting on the coffee table. You tell yourself you’ll just have one, a little treat, and put the packet back in the fridge. Oh, but today was meant to be your ‘good’ day! Now you have 10 Tim Tams and no one to share them with. You can’t keep crap like that in the house when you’re meant to be eating healthily! It’s OK, you’ll scoff the lot now so that they’re all gone and you can start eating healthily again tomorrow.
Why is it that during the working week, I am a health nut, yet on weekends I go on a bingeing rampage?
It’s not just me!
Before going (sorry, attempting to go) sugar-free, I subscribed to the ’80-20’ rule. That is, eat and exercise well 80% of the time and indulge 20% of the time. I like this rule – it allows me to justify being restrained most of the time, and becoming a crazed sugar-scoffing madwoman the rest. It means I can enjoy (guilt-free) all those fun food-centered activities – dinner with friends, dessert with the man, Malteasers at the movies, glass of wine at girly catch-ups…Then I realised I was justifying eating crap at virtually any occasion:
- Stressed from work? Chocolate.
- Boring night in? Ice cream and chocolate. Or chocolate ice cream.
- Strolling around sunny Darling Harbour? Gelato. Usually chocolate.
- Night before boot camp? Anything I can get my hands on. Hey, I’m exercising tomorrow, I’ll work it off!
To find out why I pig out from 5pm Friday til 9am Monday, I went a-Google-ing. Turns out, there’s a fair bit of research being carried out on people who chow down at the end of the working week.
One study found that people ate 400 calories more on weekends than weekdays, equating to around 20 per cent more. Sounds about right to me!
According to dietician and exercise physiologist Kim Gorman, this is because “many dieters [are] creating a calorie deficit Monday through Friday but filling it — and more — during the weekend.”
She says the problem lies in unstructured weekends and a change in routine. That’s definitely the case for me – I have set eating times at work. But when I sleep in until 10am on Saturday, my whole weekend is out of whack.
How to eat like it’s Wednesday
An article by Megan Othersen for Rodale Inc, offers some practical tips for treating a weekend day like a Wednesday.
I’m going to try a few this weekend and let you know how I go.
1. No sleep-ins
I relish my sleep-ins, especially as I’m up at 4.30am most mornings for rowing. However, Megan reckons it’s easier to stick to a healthy eating regime if your eating schedule is constant. So this weekend, I’ll be breaking the fast at 7am (gaa!).
2. Log it
I use a great free app called My Fitness Pal to track my eating and exercise, though it gathers virtual cobwebs on weekends. This weekend I’ll record all my eating and see if it prevents a blow-out.
3. Eat the same breakfast
This isn’t in Megan’s list, but I reckon if I eat my weekday brekkie of porridge with rice milk, nuts and chia seeds, I’ll be less likely to scoff sweets later in the day.
With the Head of the Parramatta rowing regatta testing my fitness levels this Saturday morning, I can easily stick to this rule. The challenge, however, will be not using the race to justify a later pig-out!