It's Sunday afternoon and you have the impending workweek hanging over your head like a dark, ominous cloud. Not only that, you're feeling guilty about the bar food you ate Friday night and the proceeding hangover food you ate Saturday morning.
Many people report that they are more successful with their diet during the week than on the weekend. They prep their overnight oats and balanced lunches for the week, but when Friday night hits, all bets are off.
So, what's the reason for this popular "weekday dieting" trend? And more importantly, how can you fix it?
Well, I'm here to tell you! Keep reading.
The Rationale Behind Weekday Dieting
Most of us have a pretty regular routine during our workweek. Wake up, drink coffee, exercise, take a shower, get to work, etc. There might be slight variations day to day or week to week, but generally speaking, the weekdays are kinda the same.
This routine is what drives our ability to stick to a diet during the week. We are already used to our habits during the week and we can easily tack on eating a salad or going for a jog.
Not only that, many people associate their workweek routine with things they have to do not things they want to do. So as long as they are writing reports, listening to long conference calls, or inputting data they might as well add what they consider to be another not-so-pleasant activity - healthy eating.
Then, when it comes to the weekend, it's finally time to do the things you want to do. Hooray! But along with your weekend sweatpants and long Sunday naps comes weekend eating. It's the type of eating you're more likely to want to do because it's foods that satisfy cravings for carbs and fats and sugar.
2. Dealing In Extremes
Many of us have sat around on a Sunday afternoon and vowed to eat only healthy foods this week to make up for the junk food we ate over the weekend. And so we say no to happy hour on Tuesday and bring a salad for lunch to work on Wednesday, and we even skip Friday morning bagels.
But after 5 days of being hyper-focused on diet, the cravings for unhealthy foods get even stronger and harder to ignore. And even though you said no all week to tempting foods, Friday night comes along and guess what happens? You say yes.
And all of a sudden agreeing to one cheesy appetizer becomes finishing a whole pizza and drinking 4 beers. You have gone from one absolute extreme to another. And it's hard to ever return to moderation. So you spend weekdays as an organic-eating, gym-going, no-dessert-having person and your weekends as the exact opposite.
Getting out of the cycle of extremes becomes a huge challenge.
3. Decision Fatigue
Along with dealing in extremes, decision fatigue can make it hard to stick to a healthy diet from the weekdays to the weekend.
Each day we make hundreds of decisions. Some of our decisions are bigger, like should I apply for a new job? And others are small, do I want to wear a light jacket or a heavier jacket? Some decisions we aren't even aware we are making, like I will drive down Main Street to get home.
Even though many of these decisions aren't difficult, they still drain our energy to keep making decisions.
Imagine you have a pitcher full of water. Every time you make a decision, water is poured out. Big decisions require you to pour out more water and smaller decisions less water. By the end of the day or end of the week, how much water do you think is left? Not much.
So at the end of the workweek when you are sitting down with friends at a restaurant your decision fatigue may prevent you from weighing your options and making a healthy choice. Instead, you are likely going to pick the thing that you believe will satisfy you the most in the current moment (spoiler, this is not often a healthy option).
4. I Deserve a Treat
It's been a tough week. Your boss kept piling on more work, your roommate left the kitchen a mess, and your car is making a weird noise. But despite it all, you made it through the week. And now you want to treat yourself.