Why the Weekend Isn't an Excuse to be UnhealthyWhy the Weekend Isn't an Excuse to be Unhealthy

By Lauren Brown West-Rosenthal

You know the drill—weekdays are all about working hard and staying disciplined and then the space, time and unstructured aspect of your weekend is the much-deserved reward. But let’s define what it means to give yourself those "rewards" on the weekend, shall we? Yes, weekends are for lounging around in your PJs and not feeling guilty about hitting snooze. Weekends are for seeing friends and spending quality time with loved ones that the work week doesn’t always allow time for. Weekends are for parties, outings, day trips, restaurants and late nights out to blow off steam. Weekends are for decompressing and binge-watching TV shows and not having to think about the big stuff in work and life and everything in between. But one thing that weekends definitely are NOT for doing? Completely blowing off your routines or overindulging to the point that you end up compromising your health and erasing the results of the hard work you so diligently put in throughout the course of the week.

We’re not saying to forgo any fun or indulgences on the weekend—not even a little bit are we suggesting that—we’re just recommending that fun and indulgence in moderation. For starters, nothing says the weekend has arrived more than kicking back with a glass of wine, beer or the adult beverage of choice. Enjoy it. You’ve earned it. But don’t let that one drink turn into too many to remember and suddenly you’re on a bender. The consumption of too much alcohol can cause big problems—we’re talking dehydration, liver damage and a negative impact on your precious and much-needed sleep. Too much alcohol takes you away from the deep, REM level sleep your body needs, causing you to wake up exhausted and out of sorts no matter how long you’re asleep.

Speaking of sleep, it’s also not wise to sleep the day away or even wake up several hours later than usual, Yes, we understand your body is likely exhausted from all you endured during the workweek AND from waking up as early as 6 am for five days in a row. But, here’s the deal: if you suddenly change your schedule so Friday you stay up late and sleep in on Saturday—and do the same on Saturday night and Sunday morning—how do you expect your body to rise without a big fight on Monday morning so you can start your workweek? It’ll be rough and you won’t be at your best. Instead, try and stick to the same wakeup and bedtime all week—including weekends. Your body needs the consistency to thrive seven days a week.

Now, as for indulging on food over the weekend? We won’t stop you—as long as you allow yourself little indulgences throughout the week. Going from clean eating with no treats all week long to going overboard on carbs and sweets on the weekend will cause stress on the body. That causes your body to bloat, it will zap your energy and set you up for long term health issues. So, making little yet consistent indulgences every day of the week makes the occasional big weekend-sized splurge much easier on your body and overall health.

Another common mistake is to use the openness of the extra time you may have over the weekend to push yourself harder at the gym or take on longer, heavier and more intense workouts. It makes sense as you likely have a lot less time and focus to devote to physical fitness during the week—but it’s not safe to put so much strain on your muscles if you’re workouts are much lighter or even non-existent throughout the week. It’s better to remain consistent and make steady workouts a few times during the week a priority—even if they’re short. The use the weekend for either stretching or getting in one really solid workout—on par with your weekday goals. That’s the best plan for building muscle and strength safely. It’s a surefire way to get stronger too.

Finally, use the weekend to give your brain the break it’s likely craving and deserves after the demands of staring at a multitude of electronic devices throughout the workweek. It’s tough, we get it, but try and stay off your computer and stay far away from work emails and projects during the weekend. Use it to spend the time off focusing on self-care and focusing on the things and people you enjoy. To that end, it’s always tempting to spend the weekend buried on social media, looking at what all your friends are up to while posting about all the fun you’re having too. But, if you can limit the time spent checking that non-stop stream of social media posts on your phone, you’re a lot more likely to sleep better, reduce anxiety and wake up on Monday feeling refreshed and at a level you deserve and have properly earned!

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