Saturday, 20 October 2012

The fool-proof guide to a healthy weekend

I have a small mental block when it comes to weekends. I float through the week on a cloud of vegetarian dinners, gym classes and high fibre breakfasts, only to descend into a pit of takeaways and cocktails over the weekend. It's fun, but I inevitably end up dragging through Monday apologising to a grumpy liver and sluggish metabolism.

My mission for the last few weeks has been: Healthy weekends a-go-go! The "a-go-go" may be a bit over-enthusiastic for some, but I needed some serious motivation.

After several trial-and-error-filled weekends (involving, amongst others, deep fried polenta, three bottles of Van Loveren wine and half a tub of honey ice-cream), I came up with seven guidelines to prevent that Monday morning miff.  They arranged themselves into the acronym P.A.R.T.I.E.S., and if that isn't rather pleasing for a weekend, I don't know what is.

1. Plan ahead

Pretend a nuclear attack is going to happen on Friday nightTap into your inner German  and go into super-disaster-management-mode. Plan each meal and each snack. Cook up a storm on Thursday night and make individually packaged meals for the fridge and freezer. Stock up on low GI snacks for your handbag, and fill bottles with water.

Organisation is key.
It won't be necessary to act like a prison warder every weekend, but it may be essential for the first time. If you're anything like me, you are breaking months of habit. On the weekend, you won't want to spend an hour cooking vegetarian curry instead of ordering a pizza; you won't find a healthy snack when you're walking through the mall. So take away the thinking and don't give yourself a choice.

2. Anticipate challenges

Unless you're an amoeba, you will have a vague idea of what will be happening to your life over the next few days. And you will also have an inkling of what those happenings will do to your healthy resolutions, from buffet breakfasts to boerewors-laden braais. (In passing, I love it when alliteration happens accidently.) Being caught unawares hardly ever ends well for your healthy intentions, so get your mind ready and decide how you will handle the situation beforehand. If you're going to a braai, take a lean cut of meat and some salad. When you decide to go to a restaurant, check out the menu beforehand so hunger won't cause you to order a 700g T-bone.

Knowing the menu beforehand can be a big advantage.
 3. Remember you're still human

Look, there is no way I am going to miss my favourite Saturday market or abstain from a strawberry daiquiri with the girls. Maybe you are able to completely avoid your favourite weekend activities; in that case, you are a stronger person than myself, as well as (I suspect) on the brink of a nervous breakdown.

Crisp white wine at sundown? Don't mind if I do.
You're not a robot. You can't ban yourself from fun forever; this will definitely end in disaster.  Allow yourself some leeway, choose a time or event to let your hair down. As soon as it's over, tie your hair back up and get back on track with the smug knowledge that you have achieved balance.

4. Train on

So maybe an hour in the gym isn't the most appealing thing on a Saturday afternoon. That doesn't mean you should stay sedentary. Engage in some incidental activity: Take the stairs. Park far away from your destination. Hell, here's a crazy idea, maybe even do something fun: Take the dogs for a walk, play a game of tennis, splash around the pool, go dancing. You don't need to break out the Bosu balls, but keep your limbs moving and Monday morning you'll feel much fresher.

Find somewhere you want to walk... Even if it's just to get to the nearest shoe shop.
5. Ink it

Writing down everything you eat is one of the most tedious, anally retentive ways of getting healthy and I hardly ever advocate it. But doing it for just one weekend (no more, I promise) can be a massive wake-up call and can make a huge difference to what you nibble. Sometimes awareness is all you need.

When you write "bowl of chocolate mousse" for the third time in a day, your eating habits are really put into perspective.
6. Everything in moderation

Moderation is a dietitian's favourite word. But if I decide I want Chinese for dinner, I don't just have sweet and sour pork, I have the spring rolls, and the coconut juice, and probably a bow tie thrown in for good measure. Here's something you may have noticed: moderation isn't something I've mastered yet.

So here's what you do: Choose one, maybe two things to have. Have only one. Maybe its a big fatty fillet sizzling on the fire, perhaps a heap of glistening french fries, possibly a golden slice of lemon meringue. Enjoy it. Savour it. And then stop.

A cup filled with melted chocolate and chilli flakes: Next time you're in Pretoria, check it out. But if you have this and the polenta cake you might not feel too sprightly when you walk out.
7. Stick to a schedule

During the week, your body knows what is going on. You wake at a set time, you eat at a set time. An additional takeaway or skipping a meal is never really an option. Over the weekends - not so much. Waking up late means your breakfast is missed, going to a movie means your afternoon snack forgotten. Skipping meals is, obviously, never a great idea as the human body can be quite demanding when it comes to being fed regularly and you are preparing yourself for some proper overeating later in the day.

Write out your snack schedule if you have to.

Be strict with your eating schedule. Make sure you eat your breakfast as soon as you wake up, make sure you eat a snack every 3 hours. Don't leave space for your body to feel hungry or develop bizarre cheese cravings at midnight.

I hope you are having an awesome weekend! Miss Bornstein was quite excited about it as she blossomed her first rose since winter:

I'm sorry. First time gardeners can be very annoying.
What are your tricks to being healthy over weekends? I'd love to hear your feedback in the comments section:)


  1. I so need this advice, but 7 days a week, not just the weekend. Tried the hummus and beetroot soup and both were absolutely delicious in taste and eye-candy colour. Thank you for your culinary input and please keep on posting sage (pun intended comments.

    1. You don't need any advice, you're perfect mom!

  2. I love these tips Amanda (and the acronym is perfect for the subject at hand)! I've found that sticking to a somewhat regular schedule is my best bet for maintaining healthy habits over the weekend. Sure, I may indulge in a piece of pie, or tuck into a rich Sunday brunch, but as long as I'm eating every 3-4 hours, I feel balanced and in control. Of course there are exceptions--sometimes you *need* to sleep in till noon--but exceptions are okay too. Moderation in moderation, right? ;)

    1. Oh I absolutely love that! Moderation in moderation... it's so true, you can get quite obsessed with not going overboard with anything and it can become just as unhealthy as overindulging! I will use that in the future for sure:)


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