How you handle weekends can say a lot about how successful you will be with your diet in the long run. The same could be said for holidays and vacations, but I digress. The problem lies within the all-or-nothing mindset.Β Do you start your week feeling refreshed from a good weekend or are you feeling shameful after a weekend-long bender? I wrote an Instagram post recently about this because this mindset is a common pitfall amongst dieters. The thing is, when your dieting mindset is too restrictive, it is designed to fail.

First off, let go of the shame and negative self-talk, you were not bad for eating good food and enjoying your lives. But when you restrict all week it is very tiring and sucks up all your energy and willpower so that by the time the weekend comes, you feel like you deserve to let loose and often end up swinging way too far in the other direction. It’s inevitable and it is keeping you stuck in the binge-restrict cycle.
Now I get it. The work week can be stressful and we all want to blow off some steam on weekends. I do too. And on some level, we do need to let go a bit and allow ourselves to relax and recharge. Food is comforting. We all have things we look forward to on the weekend that feel special to us. Like my Sunday morning pancakes and sausages that I look forward to all week and that I am not about to give up. I am not saying you can’t enjoy your weekend brunches, I am just saying if you do brunch out, your diet isn’t blown, you have not fail so don’t give up for the rest of the weekend and instead just get right back to your normal eating habits.
Something happens when you stop overly restricting yourself Monday to Friday: you can finally learn to enjoy a relaxing weekend without feeling the need to binge or ruin your diet completely. I promise, it is possible to let go of all your food rules, and there’s nothing wrong with ice cream on a Saturday night. The thing is, there is ALSO nothing wrong with ice cream on Tuesday night, and it doesn’t need to be Halotop or some other diet brand to be allowed.
On the flip side, if you do go really overboard, you can actually undo all your progress in one big cheat meal.
What if there was a better way?
πš‚πš˜πš–πšŽ 𝚘𝚏 πšπš‘πšŽ πš›πšŽπšŠπšœπš˜πš—πšœ 𝚒𝚘𝚞 πš–πšŠπš’ πš‹πšŽ πšπšŠπš•πš•πš’πš—πš 𝚘𝚏𝚏 πšπš›πšŠπšŒπš” πšŽπšŸπšŽπš›πš’ πš πšŽπšŽπš”πšŽπš—πš?
  1. You have been on a diet too damn long. You should spend most of your year eating at maintenance, and if you are in a healthy place for it you can implement two planned dieting phases in a year. Diet fatigue is real. If you are constantly trying to diet and restrict, your willpower is likely wearing thin.
  2. Your plan is too restrictive. If you start every Monday with a new plan to cut this food group or that one or try to live on 1200 calories, you will spend every weekend falling off the rails! You need to be realistic here; cutting out all carbs might fast track your goals, but do you really want to live in a world without bagels, pasta or fruit? I personal do not.
  3. Your goals are not aligned with the life you want. Listen, if going out drinking with friends is a must for you every weekend, that’s cool, but maybe a sub-10% body fat is not realistic for you. Your goals have to match the lifestyle you want and enjoy. You need to understand that unless you have the very best genetics you are going to have to make some changes to your current lifestyle if you want to achieve new results. Your current habits have gotten you where you are now, they won’t get you to where you want to go. Understand the tradeoff and decide what is worth it to you.
Dieting will require discipline and restriction. But it is meant to be temporary. Your body is not meant to be on a diet year round. Most people that come across my services come to meΒ after trying and failing multiple diets, having spent most of their lives either severely dieting or saying F-it and eating too much without a real concept of what it feels like to eat normally. I wrote this blog a while back about earning your right to diet, you can revisit it here:ΒΒ . Bottom line is, you won’t be successful if you are not coming from a place of health. You need to spend time eating at maintenance before you diet and most of your year should be spent living at maintenance, where you eat to support your health, training and maintain your body weight. A good rule of thumb to successfully recover from a diet is to spend the same amount of time at maintenance. Now if your mind is blown reading this, it’s because very few people talk about the diet after the diet, and it’s really what matters the most. Its not how you lose the weight, but how you maintain it. You maintain it by learning to eat at maintenance and keeping up with the healthy habits that got you there, not living in a permanently calorie-restricted state!
Long term success with diets does not come from doing the hardest possible thing for a short amount of time. It comes from figuring out the changes you can live with long term, like forever. You don’t need to restrict calories forever, but you do need to keep the habits that made you successful. ie. Eating protein at every meal, getting all your vegetables and fibre needs. etc.
So yes, after the diet, calories should return to maintenance but it doesn’t mean we can return to all of our old habits. What brought you success in your weight loss will also bring you success in your maintenance. So again, the all-or-nothing mindset here is a trap. If you cut all carbs to lose 30 lbs but then go back to pastries and vanilla Frappuccinos on your way to work when you reach your goal, guess what? That 30 pounds is coming right back!
And lastly, lifestyle is the biggie. Your lifestyle needs to align with the goals you want and be something that you actually enjoy.Β Many will set goals that just do not align with the life they want. Do you really understand what achieving your goals would entail? What you would need to give up in your current lifestyle? What are the habits that you need to keep up to support this goal? This is one of my favourite infographics as it explains it quite well:ΒΒ .
And yes, you have to work with your genetics, no matter how unfair that might be. Some people are naturally lean, while for others it requires a lot more work to achieve a lean physique. We all carry our body fat in different places, some people have visible abs at a higher fat percentage than others. And to that point, visible abs do not equate better health. But as someone who had two obese parents, I can tell you while your genetics are real, your lifestyle IS the biggest determining factor. You are still in control here.
Be open to change. Be clear on your non-negotiables: ie, the things you would not be willing to give up. For me, those things include family dinner without worrying about macros, pizza take-outs in Whistler and eating desserts when my daughter bakes something yummy without worrying about it. I know what it takes for me to live in this body, perform the way I like and feel good, and those are things I am willing to do. And it is not without discipline, but I am clear on my goals and these things are now my daily habits. I eat mindfully, I am active, I go to bed early every night and I manage my stress. Sleep and stress management are my number one because when sleep deprived or under stress, it is extremely difficult for me to stay on top of my healthy habits. I cook my own food 90% of the time, I eat protein at every meal, I fill my plate with veggies, I exercise portion control, I tracked my food diligently for a very long time and I know my portions to hit my goals. I hardly ever drink, I exercise 4-6 times a week, I get my steps daily with an average 13,000 steps last week.
What do you want? And what are you willing to do for it?
Now you can replace the weekends with the holiday season and you have the same pattern repeating itself: the holidays become a 6-week long weekend and we just lose sight completely of our goals and the daily habits needed to support them. But what if things could be different? Once we let go of the all-or-nothing mindset and start building lifestyle habits that support the goals we set, we can use these mindset tools to set a better plan for the holidays; one that does not rely on signing up for a 3o day challenge on January 1st!
On my next post, I want to talk about how if we transition from following a diet to living our lives by principles we set, we can regain our power, enjoy the holiday season and avoid the January crash diet entirely. Christmas is 47 days away as I press publish on this post and frankly I am wondering how soon I can put up my Christmas tree!
Annie πŸ™‚