Lose weight while enjoying your days off with these 6 lifestyle tweaks that can help you feel lighter come Monday

By Tula Karras

After a week of spartan lunches, rigorous workouts, and sleep-depriving presentations, it's easy to feel you've earned a happy hour margarita and a plate of cheesy nachos. But topping off a tough week in this way can undo all your hard work and even pack on the pounds. Women consume about 115 more calories on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday than they do on weekdays, according to a study from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. "Those extra 300 to 400 calories can leave you nine pounds heavier by year's end," says Barry Popkin, Ph.D., the study's lead author. (Think that's scary? Read these 6 Reasons You're Not Losing Belly Fat.) Fortunately, when armed with the right advice, it's possible to achieve fast weight loss while savoring that delicious downtime-and you may even wake up a little slimmer on Monday. Not a bad way to start the week!

Overdoing It at Happy Hour


Alcohol isn't only high in calories, it also diminishes resolve-making it harder to keep your hands out of the pretzel bowl.

Your Slim-Down Solution

Pass on the two-for-one specials and skip the dessert-like drinks-which can contain 500 calories or more-and opt for a tart, spicy, or strongly flavored beverage instead. "You'll sip a Bloody Mary more slowly than a frozen daiquiri," says Keri Gans, R.D., a New York City spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association. And snag a good seat-away from the free bar snacks, says Bonnie Taub- Dix, R.D., a New York City dietitian. The calories in peanuts, chips, and buffalo wings can add up fast. A better strategy: Order an appetizer, or even a meal, says Taub-Dix. Chicken satay (92 calories each), bruschetta (100 calories a slice), and vegetarian chili (89 calories per cup) will take the edge off your hunger.

Shopping on an Empty Stomach


You're stuck at the mall, practically ready to chew off your own arm. Oh, look, there's the food court....

Slim-Down Solution

Always stash a snack in your bag. "The best portable options have no more than 200 calories and pack 5 grams each of fiber and protein," says Taub-Dix, who recommends packing a slice of whole wheat bread spread with almond butter. Or pack a granola bar. "Look for those with fewer than 8 grams of sugar each, such as Kashi TLC chewy granola bars," says Taub-Dix. If it's lunchtime and you're famished, build your own meal. Then follow these rules: "Start with a lean protein base that's grilled, not fried, then pile on steamed vegetables," says Patricia Bannan, R.D., a dietitian in Los Angeles. "And request sauces and dressings on the side." At Panda Express, for example, you might order grilled chicken with steamed broccoli, mushrooms, and string beans. Craving Mexican? Consider a black bean soft taco loaded with fresh salsa, corn, and peppers. Feeling the sweet-scented pull of the cinnamon bun? "Redefine your idea of a treat," says Bannan. Pamper yourself with a nonfood item instead-say, a pretty new nail polish or bracelet.

Get the energy you need to refuel for an all-day shopping spree with a nutritious Apple 'n Greens smoothie from Jamba Juice. Not only will the delicious drink satisfy your sweet tooth, it packs in a full-serving of vegetables to boot!

Munching at the Movies


Cinematic treats are hard to resist, but with a medium popcorn-and-soda combo weighing in at 1,600 calories, you can do serious dietary damage at the concession stand.

Your Slim-Down Solution

BYO treats. Yes, this sounds like the kind of advice your no-fun grandma would give you. But it's the surest way not to OD on calories at the multiplex, says Taub-Dix. Pop a 100-calorie bag of popcorn at home and stash it in your purse. Didn't plan ahead? Try splitting a small non-buttered popcorn with a friend (225 calories and 6 grams of fat for half a bag). "If you're craving sweets, have a piece of gum or share some dark chocolate," says Taub-Dix. Or order a box of Sour Patch Kids. They make your mouth puckery, so you're less likely to overdo it.

Dining Out


You've been waiting all week for this opportunity to really indulge-after all, it's date night, not diet night!

Your Slim-Down Solution

Choose dishes with names that denote a healthy cooking method. "Au jus (cooked in broth), braised, broiled, baked, and grilled all get the green light," says Bannan. "Skip anything described as creamy, crunchy, crispy, batter-dipped, or sautéed-words that suggest it's loaded with calorie and fat-laden cream or oil." Want to try everything? Share. According to a recent study, the average restaurant serves an 8-ounce steak-more than twice the USDA-recommended serving size. "Unfortunately, most people eat the majority of what they're served," says Bannan. If your date doesn't want to split a dish, ask your server to bring only half to the table-and pack the rest in a to-go box. (Find more healthy eating tips in 12 Ways to Decode a Restaurant Menu.)

Brunching with Abandon


For many women, this mid-morning meal is an excuse to scarf down two meals' worth of food.

Your Slim-Down Solution

Eat a piece of fruit and some lowfat yogurt first thing in the a.m. "Having a little something beforehand will curb your hunger, so you're more likely to resist that muffin basket," says Gans. At the restaurant, be especially vigilant if there's a buffet: Research shows that people served an assortment of food took in 44 percent more calories than those who got one dish. Scan the spread before you grab a plate and select two or three things that look really good. "When you stick to just a few foods, you feel satisfied more quickly," says Gans. Make room for eggs, which keep you fuller longer than starchier breakfast staples like bagels or waffles. Go for a veggie omelet or even eggs Benedict (with the hollandaise on the side) and you'll get a dish that feels celebratory but has less than 350 calories.

Watching a TV Marathon


The couch-and The Real Housewives-is calling and you're more than ready to listen.

Your Slim-Down Solution

Reinvent your Sunday by taking advantage of the fact that you can schedule a two- to three-hour fun, calorie-torching activity, like a hiking, cycling, or a beach volleyball game with friends. If you don't have any heartpumping plans, intensify your regular workout. "Use the weekend to shake up your routine with something new," says Debi Pillarella, a spokeswoman for the American Council on Exercise. "You'll burn more calories than usual because your muscles have to perform at their peak when doing an unfamiliar activity." So give that Tabata class or hot yoga studio a try, or just pop in a new workout DVD. (We have 10 New Fat-Blasting Tabata Workouts here.)



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