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Spring Flings and Weekends…

Dear Ellen, May is full of long weekends and I have no idea how to manage my new springtime healthy eating and exercise goals at home or away, help!

During the week, we tend to plan ahead and follow a schedule. We get up, eat breakfast, go to work, eat planned snacks, enjoy lunch at the same time each day and find ways to squeeze in exercise. During the weekend, especially long weekends, without a set schedule and more temptations, we can easily undo a whole week of healthy habits. Special weekends don't need to be this way! Try using the extra time on the weekends to begin incorporating these healthy One Simple Changes to help you stay on track!

Break the yo-yo mentality

Try to stop the on-again / off-again diet mentality between weekdays and weekends. Ask yourself if you are not judging yourself as "good" or "bad" throughout the course of a week and if you view the special weekend as time to rebel or "cheat" on your diet and exercise. It has been found that eating well during the week only to binge on junk food over the weekend is likely to be just as bad for your health as a consistent diet of junk. Remember that being healthy is about sustainable lifestyle changes and taking care of yourself at all times. Revisit your goals and recommit to making healthy and realistic choices regularly that set you up for the long term. Remember with balance, variety and moderation you can eat anything, just not everything!

Eat regularly

It can be easier to skip meals on weekends and make up for it by overindulging later in the day. The overeating can result in the obvious weight problems, but has also been shown to result in some risky metabolic changes. Aim to eat balanced meals – including vegetables, proteins and carbohydrates - at regular times, mindfully. If you are out, keep healthy snacks on hand so that if you get hungry you have something to tide you over. Snacks such as fruits, nuts or Juice PLUS+ Complete Bars are some excellent healthy options. Eating regularly is especially important if you drink alcohol as it has been shown that alcohol can have many negative health effects on an empty stomach.

Drink water

On busy weekends, whether travelling or home, it is important to target the recommended 1.5 litres of water per day. However, exercise, environment, weather and alcohol drinking must all be considered concerning hydration. Generally, if you drink enough fluid so that you rarely feel thirsty and your urine is colourless or light yellow, your fluid intake is probably adequate. One good way to make sure you stay hydrated if drinking alcohol is to drink a glass of water in between each alcoholic drink. Keeping a cool water bottle with you when you’re out can also help ensure you drink from it throughout the day.

Drink alcohol in moderation

While many of us skip the soda, beer and wine during the week, we tend to loosen up over the weekend and drink more calories. Just because you were "good" during the week doesn't mean that it's OK to make up for that with a night of all-out binge drinking. Remember that the calories in beverages can add up quickly and to drink in moderation. A moderate alcohol intake is defined as up to 1 drink per day for women and up to 2 drinks per day for men. Many experts note the potential health benefits of moderate alcohol consumption. If, however, you are exceeding the recommended daily amount, you could be sabotaging your health.

Hit the gym or walk to discover!

The best part of the weekend is that you have more free time to refresh your workout and get more activity without feeling rushed. Think long, relaxing walks, hikes with beautiful views, swimming in crystal blue water or discovering a new city. If you’re travelling, pack plenty of exercise gear to help you maintain any fitness progress you have already made and to perhaps compensate for some less healthy choices you might make throughout the weekend. Incorporating a little exercise into your break could also help you feel better and make it easier to get back into a fitness routine when the work week starts back up.

Since most of us work indoors during the daylight hours, the weekend provides an ideal opportunity to get outside, see the sun and connect with nature. Putting on earphones and taking a walk is a great way to explore and discover what the location has to offer. Heading outside can also boost your body's production of vitamin D, and studies show that people are happier when they spend time in nature. If you are staying in a hotel, why not take advantage of free gym or swimming pool access and if you are away from home, check out these free apps that can make keeping track of exercise while travelling fun and easy!

Plan for relaxation

Long weekends are often a time to travel and discover new places or to stay home and get lots done. However, it is important to schedule some downtime during the long weekend just to relax or do something that recharges your batteries. Meditating, listening to music or reading a book are wonderful options. You will not only likely feel better and enjoy the weekend more, but also reduce stress which has been shown to be linked to both better sleep and improved eating.

Get your sleep

Changing your sleep patterns could throw off your schedule and lack of sleep has been proven to interfere with healthy weight maintenance. Changing your sleep schedule can also make it more difficult to fall asleep on Sunday night - or the end of the long weekend - which could set you up for a tired workday. You shouldn't need a vacation from your vacation when the weekend is over!

Are you planning some airplane travel? If so, check out the next post for some savvy strategies for managing airports, airplanes and jetlag!