Monday through Thursday, you’re a total ninja when it comes to sticking to your fitness and healthy eating routine. But once Fri-yay rolls around, all bets are off. Unfortch, your commitment level during the week bears no redemption on certain weekend habits that can mess with your health. “The weekend is meant for relaxing and de-stressing, but going overboard in any direction can cause serious problems for your health as well as your ability to snap back into character on Monday,” says Isabel Smith, a New York City-based celebrity dietitian and fitness expert. Read up on these health-sabotaging weekend mistakes, and catch some tips for staying on your game Friday through Sunday.
Drinking. Way. Too. Much
As R. Kelly once put it, “It's the freakin' weekend baby, I'm about to have me some fun.” And fun you should have, but try and keep the drinking under control for the sake of your health. “Consuming too much alcohol causes dehydration of your cells, cellular toxicity, and liver damage,” says Dr Prudence Hall, a practitioner in Santa Monica. “I routinely do liver studies on my patients, and those who consume alcohol have elevated liver enzymes on their blood work, which means pronounced liver damage. That’s a recipe for aging—fast.”
Imbibing heavily also causes you to miss out on crucial snooze time. “Alcohol doesn’t promote the kind of deep, REM sleep your body really needs to repair and detoxify, so you wake up exhausted no matter how many hours of shut-eye you scored,” says Michael Breus, Ph.D., clinical psychologist and author of The Sleep Doctor’s Diet Plan: Lose Weight Through Better Sleep.
Gluing Yourself to Social Media
Once you’re finally freed from your cubicle cage and able to roam the streets on your own time, of course you want to snap, Insta, and tweet everything you see. But what your brain is really itching for is some rest. “The flickering lights of the electronic device, and rapid eye movements required to follow your scrolling feed, along with the emotional ups and downs that come along with social media are exhausting,” says Hall. “We humans need to see far vistas and landscapes and turn off our rapid-firing brain that speeds up with tablet and social media use in order to truly relax.” Your ability to fall asleep can also be disrupted from too much scrolling. “The blue light emitted from these devices will actually stop your body’s natural production of melatonin, which you need to start the process of sleep,” says Breus. So save the Candy Crush for earlier in the day.
Sleeping in Past 10 A.M.
During the week, your alarm is set for an hour (or three) earlier than you’d like, so the last thing you want to do on Saturday and Sunday is be woken up by it for no reason. But overdoing it with those Zzz’s isn’t smart, experts say. “We call this situation ‘social jet lag,’ which means you’re actually affecting your internal circadian clock,” says Breus. “So if you stay up late on a Friday, sleep in on Saturday, stay up late on Saturday, and sleep in on Sunday, your internal clock is going to want to do the same exact thing on Sunday night, making Monday morning a rough one.” Your best bet is to stick to the same wake up time no matter what. It might be painful, but it will go a long way in helping you avoid lugging your way through Monday.
Having a “Binge Day”
We’re looking at you, Sunday. You might think having one or two days of eating and drinking however you want is harmless if you stick religiously to your routine on the other days of the week, but, sadly, you’re mistaken. “The body works so hard to be steady and maintain its homeostasis that bingeing activities throw it completely off course,” says Hall. “Having two extremes of eating healthy and then going all out causes major stress, which is implicated in almost every disease of aging, chronic fatigue, and adrenal burnout,” says Hall. Not to mention the other effects of overdoing it on foods like pizza, hot chips, and mac and cheese, like bloat, lack of energy, and constipation. “You’re better off allowing yourself little indulgences here and there, even if it’s on a daily basis,” says Smith.
Falling Asleep with Your Makeup On
No one can deny it’s tempting—especially after a long night of dancing. But experts say taking that extra five minutes of time and energy to clean your face each night pays off—big time. “Makeup, for the most part, is loaded with chemicals, and you’re putting it on your body’s largest organ—your skin,” says Hall. Plus: Crusty, day-old, dark mascara is not easy to get out of pillowcases, so for the sake of your health and your 600-thread count Egyptian cotton bed set, wash it off before hitting the hay.
Catching Up on Work
There’s a reason weekends are a thing—you get to relax, unwind, and detach from your work phone and responsibilities. “Constant busyness, unending stress from work, and having no down time is not healthy whatsoever,” says Hall. And, believe it or not, our imagination shrinks and becomes stagnant when we don’t have the time and energy to dream. If you need more incentive, know this: Stress (especially the work-related kind) is implicated in a whole lot of chronic diseases. So even if your boss is pinging you until all hours of the night on Friday, have a cut-off time and stick to it.
Going Too Hard at the Gym
“People who go really hard at the gym on the weekends, but remain relatively dormant and inactive during the week, [are called] ‘weekend warriors,’” says Smith. “It’s a lot of strain to put on your muscles after four or five days of not working them.” Like anything else it processes, your body likes to do things in moderation, so if you’re working out multiple days in a row, it requires a recovery period. If you’re only exercising two days a week, and those days are back-to-back, that creates a great deal of stress on your body. “Instead, stick to regular, steady workouts a few times a week and maybe once on the weekends to properly build muscle, enhance your heart rate, and create actual strength, rather than tear down your body,” says Hall.