When Friday rolls around, your mind automatically flips the switch--off from work and off from keeping your diet. Americans consume 400 more calories during that 48-hour period than on the typical weekday, according to a study published in the Journal of Public Policy & Marketing. (Search: How many calories should I consume a day?) But that doesn't mean you're doomed to pack on pounds--with a little work, you can regain control of your weekends. Move more, eat less, and still manage to have some fun along the way with these 11 strategies.
Do you think June Cleaver ever went to the gym? To torch some calories, grab your sponge and whistle while you work. (Video: See what blasting some tunes during your pre-spring cleaning can do for your body) A half-hour of mopping can burn 300 calories, vacuuming 131 calories, and scrubbing the bathroom up to 142 calories. Boost your burn even more by wearing lightweight ankle or wrist weights, suggests Erin Palinski, RD, CPT. That extra elbow grease will definitely be worth it.
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For those who like to greet the day closer to noon, taking in brunch is a lighter option than eating both breakfast and lunch within just a few hours, says Palinski. Take advantage of the extra time the weekend allows by adding a batch of protein-rich eggs to the menu to help keep you feeling fuller longer so you aren't starving by dinner. (Get tasty recipes that help fight belly fat with this cookbook)
However, if you still keep weekday hours on Saturday and Sunday, you're better off separating your meals. Waiting longer than 30 minutes to eat slows your body's metabolism. Whipping up an easy combination of yogurt and a piece of fruit won't put you out, but will be enough to put your metabolism in motion until lunch.
Ramp up your mall excursion with a few added challenges. "Do curls with your shopping bags as you walk around the mall," says Palinski. "You can also wear ankle weights under your pants to help you burn more calories." Even making the small decision to take the stairs two at a time rather than riding the escalator can help tone your glutes and maximize your movement, says Palinski.
Instead of going out to dinner, prepare a meal at home. Not only will the change in plans spice up your routine, you'll also be able to cook by your own rules. "When you go out to eat, you don't know exactly what goes into your food," says Palinski. "You have a lot more control when you cook at home, and can make smaller portions." (Print it: Free calorie-blasting strategies to help you lose weight)
You can also use the time preparing a meal to burn off some of what you're about to chow down. By placing ingredients in different areas of the kitchen, the constant shifting can boost your activity. After dinner, fight the urge to curl up on the sofa and trade your night in for a fun night spent outdoors. Whether you're up for a stroll or seasonal amusement like ice-skating, you're still getting your heart racing--literally.
Those who are sleep-deprived burn the same number of calories daily as those who do get enough shuteye--but they consume an average of 300 more calories a day, according to a study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Why? When you're exhausted, your body releases the stress hormone cortisol, which makes you think you're hungry. Pile on a lazy metabolism and more hours awake to nibble, and it's not surprising that those additional calories develop into pounds.
What better way to unwind than strut your stuff on the dance floor with your girlfriends? With the pounding music as your body's guide, it's easy to forget that you're shimmying off unwanted weight. Busting a move can burn up to 337 calories an hour. If you need a little liquid confidence to lower your inhibitions, swap out sugary cocktails for a light wine (70 calories) or a shot of vodka mixed with diet soda (86 calories). It'll give you just the right buzz and save you some unwelcome calories.
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On work-free weekends, you can devote a little more time to...well, taking your time. An hour of hot lovin' can sizzle up to 300 calories, with kissing adding an extra calorie burned to every minute. (Learn all the sexy moves you'll ever need with this book) To get the most out of your sex session, treat each pleasurable moment like a workout. Optimize your energy expenditure by experimenting with positions that force you to use your quads, arms, and glutes to set the pace. The more muscles you engage, the more calories you burn. What better weight-loss challenge could you ask for?
A single sauna sweat session burns anywhere from 300 to 600 calories. (Search: Sauna rooms in my area)The experience also alleviates stress and acts as a natural sleeping pill by stopping the hormone cortisol in its tracks. Research shows that the spike in endorphins usually settles before it's time to retire for the night, leaving you a mass of relaxed limbs and in need of a deep rest.
Break out from the confines of your cubicle and explore the outdoors. Taking time to enjoy the scenery with a light jog or an evenly paced run can easily torch 500 calories an hour. What's more, just getting exposure to daylight can spur your body's natural fat-burner. University of Nottingham scientists discovered that the fat known as brown adipose tissue burns more calories when your body is outside and in cooler temperatures, helping to jumpstart your weight loss.
Resisting the call of the small screen can be difficult, but instead of immersing yourself in a Gilmore Girls marathon, get up and shape up for one! Bust out the Kinect for Xbox 360 or Nintendo Wii so you can simultaneously have fun and get your workout on. The average person burns 144 calories in 30 minutes playing Super Hula Hoop on Wii Fit Plus.
If you don't have much time to devote to the gym during the workweek, see if your fitness center offers longer-length classes on Saturdays and Sundays. (Print this motivational poster as a reminder that the hard work you log in at the gym will pay off in the end) Crunch, for example, offers weekend classes that are designed to give you an intense workout that fuses cardio, strength, and flexibility into a 90-minute session for those gym goers who want to get in, work hard, and get on with the rest of their weekends.
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