Good evening! :)

It is snowing hard and heavy here in Pittsburgh, and I can’t help but wish I was still in school so it would be cancelled tomorrow. Wasn’t that the best? :)

Yesterday when I was at the Red Lobster event, we were talking about restaurant menu trends over the years. While there have been many menu trends over the years (think low-carb), the steadiest trend has been comfort food. For years, heavy, comforting, well-known dishes were the main focus of most menus. Research still shows that these dishes are commonly ordered across the board.

What kind of meal do you eat when you go out to a restaurant?

Growing up, we didn’t eat out very much. It was a very special occasion and an exciting treat if we did. My mom cooked every night, and we never complained because it was always delicious and usually healthy. These days, I still think of eating out as a treat. Since I enjoy cooking at home, my hubby and I rarely go out to dinner. When we do, we want an exciting, memorable meal.

It has me thinking that most people go out to restaurants with the intention of splurging. When it comes to the weekend, people want to kick back, enjoy themselves, and not worry about what they eat or drink. My husband and I usually eat how we normally do: choose something we enjoy and eat until we are full. However, this also sometimes includes cocktails, appetizers, and dessert.

I have always struggled with healthy eating on the weekends. Since I am most productive when I am on a schedule, the weekends can get tricky. With my love for food, I would find myself aimlessy munching on my downtime on the weekends, and eating out more often without choosing healthy dishes.

I soon realized that the weekends were not going away anytime soon, and eating junk food Friday-Sunday was sabotaging my healthy lifestyle. The biggest realization? With the weekend consisting of 3 full days (at least in my mind), I was making unwise choices almost 50% of the time!

To put it in perspective: 12 days out of a 31 day month, and almost 5-6 months out of every year.

I knew things needed to change unless I wanted to love a yo-yo lifestyle.

Here is what I found to work:

Don’t deprive myself during the week. The more restrictive my food intake is, the more I want to rebel and binge, especially if I am more relaxed. I make sure to eat what I want, when I want during the week, within reason. I always allow myself to have some form of dessert or sweet treat so I don’t feel deprived. I also try to cook more intricate meals during the week when I have the time – it makes restaurant meals seem less appealing.

Keep snacking. Since I am not awake on the weekends as long as I am on weekdays, sometimes my snacks go by the wayside. When it came time for a meal, I would be ravenous and usually would end up overeating – even if it wasn’t something I loved. Sticking to my schedule, having snacks and more frequent meals has helped me maintain my healthy habits.

Drink up. Again, since I’m not on a schedule, my water intake used to be much lower on the weekends. I quickly realized that this was leading to dehydration, which was causing me to think I was hungry when I really was just thirsty. Plus, it also makes me feel 100 times better.

Plan further ahead. Every Sunday, I used to plan our meals out for the following week, with the last day being Friday. This usually left Friday night – Sunday evening as a crapshoot, with us eating leftovers, munching mindlessly on snacks, and overindulging out at restaurants. These days, I plan some meals for the weekends, too. Mostly, I cook larger portions of our healthy dinners during the week, and we have a shmorgasboard on the weekend. I also make sure to have enough fruit and yogurt on hand. I would include veggies here, too, if I liked them.

Eat a fun breakfast. Growing up, my dad always made pancakes on the weekends. They were a fabulous treat. I still like to eat something ‘fun’ on the weekends – something that I don’t take the time to make during the busier weekdays. These days, we choose a healthier treat – egg white french toast with high fiber bread, whole wheat pancakes, or omelets and toast. I am really dying to make the banana cream pancakes from Eat, Drink and Be Vegan next. Anyone had them?

1/2 the recipe. I do most of my baking on the weekends, but I rarely make an entire recipe. I usually halve, or sometimes even quarter a recipe so we aren’t tempted to eat treats all day long. I also give some away to friends and family. It works out perfectly – we get a taste, and so do our loved ones!

Make it count. Sometimes there are obligations on the weekends that we just can’t ignore. If it is a birthday party or a get-together at a restaurant that I don’t find very special, I choose a lighter dish. I would rather get something I love from one of our favorite restaurants – like The Capitol Grille!

Making some of these changes completely changed my life for the better. Many of us are ‘all-or-nothing’, and I totally used to be that way. I never thought I could be different, but I have slowly learned. Life has been so much more enjoyable since my mindset changed. Some of these include work and planning ahead, but in order to be successful, we must plan ahead. It is all worth it.

Are you an all or nothing type of person? Do your healthy behaviors change on the weekends?

While I have always had a healthy relationship with food, I have had weight struggles just like everyone else, too. It is the driving reason that I became a personal trainer and what began my passion for fitness and living a healthy lifestyle. A healthy lifestyle to me means living a life I can maintain, be proud about, and feel good about, all while enjoying myself to the fullest.

It means so much to me that you take the time to read each day. Opening myself up has been exhilarating and cleansing. I am so appreciative to you. <3