Overindulge This Weekend? Here's Why It's Okay.

Be kind to yourself after slip-ups. You may be surprised at the result it has.

Oh, Mondays. The fun of the weekend is over, the workweek looms ahead, and it’s hard for even the cheeriest among us to avoid a “case of the Mondays.” But often, that Monday melancholy can be compounded by something else: bloating, digestive distress, and guilt about weekend overindulgence.

Anyone who’s gone for that second slice of pizza on a Friday night—and who hasn’t??—knows what we’re talking about. You dutifully chomp carrot sticks and skinless chicken all week, but then Saturday morning rolls around and pancakes just sound a heckuva lot better than oatmeal…

Your Brain is Probably Hurting More than Your Body

When this happens, there’s no reason to let those slip-ups haunt you come Monday morning. Straying from your normal diet over the weekend is so normal it’s almost guaranteed—and doing so won’t prevent long-term weight loss.

First of all, let’s take a moment to think about all the incredible things your body does. The human body is capable of riding over 100 miles on a bike, exercising through sickness, and running marathons. It’s so resilient that you could remove your stomach, spleen, one kidney, 80% of your intestines and 75% of your liver and still be able to survive. I think it’s safe to say it can handle that cupcake you ate on Sunday night!

The body is amazing and can take a lot of abuse. That doesn’t mean we should abuse it—in fact, we should treat it kindly by making healthy choices the majority of the time—it just means that we should relax with confidence in (and gratitude for) its ability to sort things out.

Gaining Weight is Part of Losing Weight. Really.

What’s more, scientists have shown that not only is minor weekend weight gain totally normal, it may even have a positive impact on long-term weight loss.

In a study from Cornell University, researchers had 80 adults weigh themselves every morning before breakfast for a year. They split the subjects into three groups: those who gained weight over the year, those who lost weight, and those who maintained their weight. What they found was that “everybody in the world has a weight rhythm where they weigh the most on Sunday night and they weigh the least on Friday morning.”

This was true for everyone, regardless of the long-term trajectory of their weight. What differed was how people used weekdays.

Everyone who lost weight compensated strongly for any weekend excess as soon as the workweek began. Their weight immediately began falling come Monday, and by Friday they were at a significantly lower weight, giving them the wiggle room to go a bit off the rails over the weekend. The weight gainers, on the other hand, also lost weight over the workweek—just not enough to make up for the weekend treats.

There’s even speculation that weekend weight gain might help dieters lose weight by providing them with something to look forward to during the relative deprivation of the rest of the week. It’s easier to choose the spinach salad on Tuesday when you know you’ll get to have a burger and fries on Saturday!

Tips to Bounce Back Better

The bottom line is that moderate weekend weight gain is normal and doesn’t doom your diet. However, this doesn’t mean you can go buck-wild from Friday afternoon to Sunday night, and it’s extra important buckle down once Monday morning rolls around to ensure that the number on the scale drops over the long-term. Here are some quick tips to help you get back on track:

  • Drink water. Upping your fluid intake will help move along your digestion.
  • Get moving. Easing back into your exercise routine revs your metabolism, aids digestion, and pumps endorphins to get you back in the right headspace.
  • Eat normally. Resist the temptation to restrict and eat regular, healthy meals to keep your metabolism going and get back in your routine.
  • Don’t beat yourself up! Eating more on the weekends is totally normal, and allowing yourself to occasionally indulge guilt-free is essential. After all, it’s the guilt itself that sabotages motivation and prevents real, lasting progress.

Make it WayBetter

Create a Monday morning mantra that embraces the fun you had over the weekend and motivates you for the week ahead.