As Friday finally rolls around, naturally our thoughts turn to the weekend. What do you have planned? Are your weekends a blur of hedonism and hangovers an escape from the mundanity of the 9 to 5? Come Monday morning do you feel energised and ready to tackle the week or do you just want to crawl back under the covers and hibernate for another two days? Here' are a couple of easy health hacks which will help you sneak some R+R back into your weekend and leave you rearing to go come Monday 7am.
What does your typical weekend look like?
Does a "few drinks" with colleagues on Friday to ease the tension of the week, leading to you waking up with a full-face of make-up and a banging head on Saturday. Suddenly that 9am yoga class suddenly doesn't seem quite as appealing as a fry-up and you’ve smashed your daily sugar allowance by 11am by downing the three cans of Coke in a desperate attempt to “rehydrate”. For most twenty something Brits. You spend the rest of the day oscillating between wallowing and eating, throwing away all your good work during the week with the misguided belief that you just need to keep eating junk until you feel better. And just as your poor body gets itself back on track .... you do it all again on Saturday night.
But that hedonistic blur of binge drinking, social smoking, junk food and lack of sleep takes a serious toll on your body after a while. Who enjoys standing on a jam-packed tube carriage on a Monday morning lamenting that, yet again, they’ve achieved nothing with their precious weekend. But it doesn't have to be that way. We’re not saints but there are a few simple ideas on simple ideas for how to make a few small tweaks to your weekend which will make all the difference.
Instead of going out for your weekly hangover brunch with the gang why not invite everyone round to yours and indulge in a healthy brunch feast instead? Either get everyone to bring a couple of ingredients and you can all cook together or task everyone with bringing a dish. Try healthy takes on breakfast classics such as buckwheat pancakes, gluten free museli with coconut yoghurt and berries and eggs, plus a creamy chia seed pudding and some scrummy smoothies and juices.
We love home-hosted brunches, they are so much more relaxed (and cheaper) than going out. You avoid the stress of having to go and queue for an hour in the bitter cold only to find out where they won’t seat you until your whole party arrives, such that by time you order (squeezed between two super hangry couples) you and instead get to focus on good food and good people!
Avoid the sugar and caffeine rush of coffee and cake with your buddy and instead commit to gossiping on the go. No matter what area you live in London is blessed with some beautiful open spaces, Richmond Park, Victoria Park, Hyde Park and Hampstead Heath being a couple of our personal favourites. So get your coffee to go or grab a couple of bottles of green juice, some scrummy snacks and head out or grab your bike. Take a moment to think when was the last time you took a real walk? Your desperate I’m-running-late-for-my-9am-with-the-boss tube station dash doesn’t count by the way. Today so many of us work in sedentary jobs where we sit at a computer for 90% of the day and so when you pay attention it feels really good to actually feel your body move! Plus you’ll be boosting your Vitamin D levels, low levels of which have been proven to increase your chances of cancer and heart disease. What’s not to love?
Try Something New
London is finally wakening up to the fact that fitness doesn’t have to mean hamster style running on a wheel in a dank basement or 80's style aerobics that your mum would be proud of. We now have classes to suit every style and size. Why not make a pact with your girls that you’ll try a different class each weekend for a month and see what you enjoy – you might be surprised. Mixing up your workouts not only keeps things interesting but also has the benefit of keeping your body guessing. Try and change your mindset, instead of thinking of exercise classes as just another weeknight obligation that involve a stressful dash from the office, view them as a fun, relaxed social event with exercise as an added bonus and you’ll enjoy them so much more. A couple of our favorites are: Barrecore, Frame, Barry’s Bootcamp and Psycle.
Ask any of the wellness cognoscenti what their secret is and they’ll all admit organization is key. We’re the first to admit that our 21st century “on-demand” lifestyles aren’t easily set up for living the healthiest you. You’ve had an awful day followed by a signal failure on the Northern Line so when you finally get home and flop on the sofa the last thing you can be bothered to do is drag yourself down to Waitrose to get the ingredients to make yourself a healthy supper.
So set aside a couple of hours on the weekend to set yourself up for a healthy week and you’ll never have any excuses. Get down to Borough Market or one of London’s other amazing farmers markets (find your nearest here) and stock up on tons of fresh goodies for the week. Instead of desperately racing around supermarket so hungry that you’re considering snatching a bag of Haribo from that smug five year old, make an event of grocery shopping. Take pleasure in selecting your food, talk to the producers and farmers and find out where your food came from and how it was grown or raised. The more invested you are in your food the better it will taste!
Once you’ve hauled your bounty back home get to work. Wash and prep your veggies so all you have to do is chuck a couple of handfuls of greens into whatever you’re whipping up. Divide your chopped smoothie ingredients into sandwich bags and freeze them so that when you crawl out of bed in the morning all you have to do is dump your frozen fruits and veggies into the blender with your liquid of choice. Try making a big batch of Quinoa or other healthy grain on a Sunday and keep in the fridge to form a base for easy to throw together weekday lunches. Soups, curries and stews also lend themselves to making in bulk. Just whip up a big batch and decant into sandwich bags and freeze so you always have a healthy “ready-meal” option. Again, why not make this a social ritual? Make an afternoon of it with a girlfriend – head to the market, prep your masterpieces and then split the proceeds, all served with a fun dose of gossip. If you’re anything like us you’re recipe obsessed but struggle to try new recipes regularly. Commit to trying a new healthy recipe each weekend from the thousand that you’ve got on Pinterest. Having the time and space to cook or bake without any pressure makes for a lovely relaxed afternoon.
You might’ve noticed a theme with the above suggestions – none of them involve any technology. We live in such a hyper-connected world these days, we rarely truly switch-off. With most of us using our smartphones as alarm clocks they are the first thing we check in the morning and the last thing we look at before we go to sleep. Who hasn’t found themselves aimlessly scrolling through Buzzfeed’s ten cutest sloth photos and suddenly wondered how they got there. While living in an “on-demand” society is amazing in many ways, we believe it has also led us to have a fear of “just being” and the more we fill every spare second with social media the more we lose touch with ourselves. Try and take an hour or two every weekend to just be with yourself and listen to what your body is trying to tell you. Try meditation – we promise it doesn’t have to be as hippy as it sounds. We are huge fans of the amazing Andi Puddicombe’s Headspace App, a great place to start your practice. If that’s not your bag try just curling up on the sofa with a good book and a cup of tea. You’ll be amazed at how much more energized and inspired you’ll feel once you’ve given your mind some time to breathe.
We are big fans of continuous personal growth here at The Holist. Why not set aside some “you” time on a Sunday afternoon to focus on something that will improve you as a person. It could be taking an interesting course online (we recently took this interesting nutrition course on Coursera, for example), writing, painting, or whatever other hobby you’ve always wanted to try but persuaded yourself you don’t have the time to start.