How to break the all-or-nothing lifestyle cycle.

Are you the type of person who eats in a reasonable way Monday morning through Friday afternoon? Or from breakfast through dinner?

But when that clock strikes 5 p.m. on Friday, or the kitchen closes down after dinner, you start to go Incredible Hulk?

Are you over-eating?

You know the drill.

By the time the weekend or night is over, you’ve eaten (or drunk) way too much, often of the foods you wouldn’t normally choose.

You feel crappy. Guilty. Regretful. Maybe angry at yourself. Your workout the next day sucks.

And any progress you’ve made towards having the body you want was erased thanks to the brief spell of eating or boozing mayhem.

It might even seem like nighttime or weekend eating is so strong, it’s like a recurring disease.

Let’s call it: Weekenditis.

How to catch Weekenditis

Looking to get a nasty case of Weekenditis? Here’s how the virus spreads.

  1. Be perfect.
    Have an eating routine that is “perfect”. Follow strict meal plans to the last teaspoon Monday morning through Friday afternoon, or breakfast through dinner.Get so sick of the boring, bland, and restrictive eating that you can’t wait to actually eat food you enjoy, all weekend or all evening.
  2. Always go 100%.
    After you create your “perfect” meal plan or “diet rules”, start worrying about screwing them up.Create a sense of future epic failure that justifies overeating.For example:“It’s Saturday, I’m out with my family, and I can’t have my regular pre-portioned perfect chicken salad like I usually do for lunch, so instead, I’ll just overeat a large double-cheese and pepperoni pizza.”Don’t be reasonable about this. That’s for weaklings and quitters who like being mediocre.
  3. Trade off good behavior.
    Just like in prison or being five years old, you get time off your sentence, bonuses, and freebies for being a good boy.One “good deed” gives you license to “sin” elsewhere.“Good” eating during the week gives you permission to be “bad” on the weekends. Or “good” eating during the day gives you permission to be “bad” at night.
  4. Say “Screw it”.
    If you overeat, or eat the “wrong” foods, don’t stop eating. Eat more.You’ve gone out for pizza and beer with the boys. That means screw it, you’ve “blown your diet”, so you might as well keep eating before tomorrow morning.Doesn’t matter if you’re full. Keep going until your esophagus clogs.With the Screw It Effect, there are no half measures.Go out with guns a-blazin’.
  5. Have a “Cheat Day”.
    Monday through Saturday is your food purgatory. But Sunday . . . oh, Sunday.That’s Cheat Day. The happiest day of your week.You wake up Cheat Day morning like a kid at Christmas. Go hog wild all day long, eating all the stuff you didn’t permit yourself during the week.Then as evening nears, start to freak out. And eat (and maybe drink) even more.Because tomorrow, it’s back to “the rules”. And strict compliance. And no fun.
  6. Rationalise.
    Weekends and evenings present all sorts of comfortable justifications for eating a bunch of non-nutritious foods.It could be anything.You were busy. Or maybe you had nothing going on.You were traveling. Or maybe you were at home.You were at work. Or you had no work to do.You had family/social meals. Or maybe you ate alone.Anything, any excuse, will do.Poor you! Victim of circumstance!
  7. Avoid the Sunday blahs.
    It’s late at night. Or maybe Sunday afternoon.For a brief time, nobody’s demanding your attention. There’s no structure. There’s a break from busy-ness.What the heck do you do with yourself?You eat. (Or you drink.) That’s what.

Curing Weekenditis

Let’s look at each of these virulent little buggers, one by one, and talk about solutions.

Infection 1: Perfectionism

Treatment: Be “good enough”.

The decent method you follow is better than the perfect method you quit.

Be reasonable with your food (and booze) intake, and include foods you enjoy as often as possible.

Perfectionism is self-destructive and is not the same thing as striving for excellence.

Oh, and “perfect” doesn’t even exist. It’s kind of like trying to catch Bigfoot.

Infection 2: All-or-nothing

Treatment: Operate along a spectrum of possible options.

All-or-nothing thinking gives you two options: perfect or crap.

In reality, there’s a continuum. What are the “pretty good” or “not too bad” options?

Infection 3: Good-bad trade-offs

Treatment: Come back to your grown-up values.

Trading off “good” and “bad” is for little kids and convicts.

Forget about “good” versus “bad” — instead, come back to your adult values and deeper principles when you sit down to eat.

Infection 4: The Screw It Effect

Treatment: Learn your own physical hunger and fullness cues. Notice when, where, and how you’re likely to say “Screw it!”

Otherwise known as “disinhibition”, the “Screw It Effect” is actually caused by “food rules”.

Non-dieters (i.e. normal eaters) eat when they’re physically hungry and stop when they’re physically full.

They don’t have strict “rules” about what, when, where, and how they eat.

They know their right level of “full” and rarely eat to “stuffed”.

No matter if it’s Wednesday or Saturday, morning or evening, a family dinner or cocktail party, they eat according to internal cues and their values (say, a stronger, leaner, healthier body).

If you keep trying to follow rigid external rules and prohibitions, it will almost always inevitably lead to overeating crap.

Because once we deviate from “the rules”, as everyone does, we have nothing left to guide us.

Infection 5: Cheat Day

Treatment: Cultivate an abundance mindset.

Some people find the idea of relaxing with eating once per week useful both mentally and physically. If this is you, and it works for you, then we applaud you on finding a worthwhile strategy.

But for most clients, having one “cheat day” means the rest of the week is food purgatory.

Like the Screw It Effect, Cheat Day depends on scarcity.

Scarcity makes us feel anxious, needy, and greedy.

So if someone says “I can only have food X on Sunday”, this might just fuel the idea of overeating food X because they know they “can’t” eat X for another six days.

Abundance, on the other hand, allows us to feel calm, satisfied, and fulfilled.

Infection 6: Easy rationalisations

Treatment: Notice (and challenge) the stories you’re telling yourself.

Rationalisations are a convenient script. They help explain our overeating to make sense of what we’re doing.

But busyness, boredom, travel, work, or family dinners don’t inherently cause overeating. Those are just the circumstances in which we’ve used rationalisations before.

People overeat or drink too much crap in lots of different circumstances.

Their explanation simply matches whatever happens to be going on at the time.

Rationalizations like this can take away your freedom of choice. You start to feel like a victim of circumstance or changes in moods.

And examining your feelings, although a fine thing to do, will probably only produce limited success with eating modifications. Maybe you find that feeling bored or angry about something triggers your desire to eat.

By all means investigate those feelings and see what you want to do about the situation. Just know that this doesn’t get you off the hook or make the feelings go away.

Sometimes, you’ll want to eat crap. And too much of it. That’s normal.

You’re still in control, no matter what you feel.

If you have a craving, and decide not to pursue that craving, it will be uncomfortable and challenging, and this is OK.

Avoid looking for justifications to overeat garbage. Because if you’re looking for one, you’ll find one.

Infection 7: Sunday blahs

Treatment: Get out of your head and into your life.

When the rush of the busy week/day is over, we become aware of the lack of content and maybe connection in our lives.

Reaching for a snack or a beer is better than gazing into the void.

Do something. If you find yourself gazing into the void regularly, add meaningful activity to your weekends/evenings.

The activity doesn’t even need to be pleasurable. It might even be uncomfortable, like learning a new language.

The point is to have a reason to keep going. Volunteering can be a very powerful option here. Remember, easing someone else’s burden often makes yours a little bit lighter.

Putting it into practice: Making choices

Here’s one more way to start treating Weekenditis (or Eveningitis):

Make complete choices.

If it happens to be a weekend or evening, and you’re flipping through your mental Rolodex of rationalizations, this is a red alert.

Check yourself. Take a deep breath. Come back to your values.

Then choose (notice that word) accordingly. And consciously. Think through to consequences.

Make complete choices by acknowledging the outcome you would expect, based on your experience.

For example:

“I’m choosing to eat this tub of ice cream on Saturday night and to feel nauseated and guilty afterwards.”

You’re free to eat and drink anything you want.

YOU choose YOUR behaviour.

Just remember that different choices produce different outcomes.

Your call.

Stuff to think about

Here’s a little thought experiment for the upcoming weekend.

For weekend overeaters: Think back to when you had a weekend of eating that went well. What was different? And how can you do more of that?

For nighttime overeaters: Think back to when you had an evening of eating that went well. What was different? And how can you do more of that?

What’s up next

This weekend is a perfect opportunity to put this stuff into practice.

If you suffer from Weekenditis, consider choosing one pre-emptive strategy in advance, and making it happen.

If things go well, notice what you did and how you could repeat that.

Eat, move, and live…better.

This post is one our daily coaching lessons, created by Precision Nutrition and delivered by us at Your Nutritional Blueprint, for more detals of the program we offer, please visit here.

The health and fitness world can sometimes be a confusing place. But it doesn’t have to be.
Let us help you make sense of it all. Your Nutritional Blueprint are the UK’s longest serving Precision Nutrition super-coaches with over 4 years of experience in delivering personalised nutrition coaching.
We will help you learn the best eating, exercise, and lifestyle strategies – unique and personal – for you.

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