Your Sunday self is a zen genius. The birds practically pull back your curtains, your homemade smoothie bowl is on point, and you finally mastered that advanced pigeon pose at the yoga studio. Your Thursday self? That's an entirely different story, wrought with plot twists involving pizza orders and excuses that have you playing hooky from the gym.
So, go ahead and let the Sunday version of you intervene and plan ahead for you so it's smooth sailing for the rest of the week, with your weight-loss and healthy living goals guiding the way. Because if there's one mantra that nutrition and fitness experts agree on, it's that planning is a key—if not the key—to losing weight.
We know "meal prep" is super important and that we should plan to hit the gym, but there's some even more specific ways to use Sunday to set yourself up for success all week long. This is what you can do on Sunday Funday so that bad eating habits are a thing for your Throwback Thursday past. Bonus: Here's 25 Tips for Meal Prep Sunday, too!
Make a Better Mason Jar Salad
We know you were just about to abandon Pinterest because of too many lopsided cakes and goopy casseroles deserving of #Pinterestfails hashtag crowns. But now there's a trend that's not just healthy, but also do-able. Welcome, mason jar salad trend. And consider yourself absolved, Pinterest. For the uninitiated, this genius meal prep hack allows you to engineer your weekday salads on Sunday night and not worry about them being soggy come lunch time. To get it right, put your salad dressing in the bottom and then layer your heartier veggies like carrots, onions, peppers, and cucumbers with proteins like grilled chicken and beans, says Emily Heim, Intentional Living Supervisor at The Spa at Red Rock by Well & Being. You can also layer in grains such as quinoa. The lettuce and lighter ingredients, like tomatoes, mushrooms, and cheese go on top, Heim says. Eat straight from the jar or empty your salad jar into a bowl. If you're in a salad rut, be sure to try these 11 Underrated Salad Greens.
Make Plans to HIIT the Gym
Swap your treadmill appointments for some HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) workouts and schedule them in your calendar on Sunday, suggests Cassie Bjork, RD from DietitianCassie.com. "If you pound the pavement for miles or spend upwards of half an hour on the elliptical, it's time to change up your workout," she says. "Incorporating short bursts of intense exercise for 10 to 15 minutes helps boost your metabolism much more efficiently than long distance running or excessive repetitive exercise. Plus, it takes a fraction of the time to reap these benefits!" Even come Friday, you'll have time for just a 15-minute workout. Search HIIT workouts on YouTube on Sunday so you've got some in your queue throughout the week, Bjork suggests. Try this 15-Minute Aerobic Abs Workout to fire up your core.
Portion out these protein-packed snacks so you have some to take with you when you leave the house every day, Bjork suggests. "I recommend a couple tablespoons per serving and I put these into Ziploc bags for grab-and-go snacks," Bjork says. The healthy fat keeps your blood sugar stable, which in turn keeps your body from producing so much insulin, a fat-storing hormone that makes your body pack on pounds. Instead, you'll get the benefits of glucagon, the fat-burning hormone that can work in your favor all day long, Bjork says.
Make an Egg Bake
For a weight-loss hat trick, make an egg bake on Sunday: It contains three macronutrients — protein, healthy fats, and veggie carbohydrates — to boost your metabolism and brain power first thing in the morning, Bjork says. "When I make my egg bake on Sunday, I know I'll have something quick to grab every single morning during the week that'll get my metabolism going first thing and keep me satisfied until my mid-morning snack," Bjork says. Pro tip: Bjork uses up her weekend's leftover veggies. And if breakfast casseroles are your thing, be sure to make the most of these 20 Tips and Tricks for Better Breakfast Casseroles.
Prep Your Protein
Go fish! Bjork's top recommendation for a healthy protein to eat throughout the week is wild-caught salmon. "Not only will it boost your metabolism every time you eat it, but it also contains a ton of omega-3s that'll help heal inflammation so your body can focus on shedding pounds," she says. Bjork suggests baking a handful of fillets with some olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper, and have them on hand to snack on with cheese and fruit, toss in salads, or eat alongside the veggies you also roasted on Sunday for the week ahead. Still not convinced you should opt for wild salmon? Then you need to see these 8 Shocking Facts About Farmed Salmon.
Make a Playlist
You know that feeling when your favorite hip-hop song comes on the radio? Not only does it inspire your sweet dance moves, but it can also help you lose weight. Music in the 120 to 140 beats per minute range (think: just about anything Rhianna) can help distract you from feeling tired and actually up your endurance by 15 percent, according to research from Brunel University's School of Sport and Education. So, go ahead, and play DJ on Sunday, setting up playlists you'll look forward to listening to throughout the week. If you need help getting started, here's A Work-Out Play List to Help You Burn More Fat.
Make a batch of hard-boiled eggs to store in the refrigerator for the week. "They're the perfect protein-rich and satiating grab-and-go breakfast option for those mornings you're running late, and they're also an excellent addition to the lunch box," says culinary nutrition expert and healthy lifestyle blogger Jessica Fishman Levinson, MS, RDN, CDN and founder of Nutrionliscious.com.
Make Overnight Oats
Let your breakfast practically prepare itself while you're sleeping by preparing overnight oats in advance. Just layer oats, low-fat milk, yogurt, or kefir, and fruit and seasonings of choice in a mason jar, Fishman Levinson suggests. In the morning, top it off with some crunchy nuts or seeds and you have a nutritious and delicious breakfast to start your day. Scroll through our 50 Best Overnight Oats Recipes for Weight Loss to find your new favorite options!
Get in a Good Sweat Sesh
Sunday as a rest day? Pfft. Squeeze in a workout to boost your endorphins and start your week on a high note, suggests fitness coach Katy Walburn from LFT Fitness in Colorado. "You don't need to spend hours at the gym; you can rev your metabolism with a simple home-friendly high-intensity interval workout with only your body weight and the stopwatch on your phone," she says. Or, there are a variety of apps that can guide you through the workouts.
Go ahead, check yourself into the gym on Facebook. Just as good: Join your gym's fan page or group on social media because when you see that coach saying she's looking forward to seeing everybody at 7 p.m., it might be the rallying call you needed. "Never underestimate the power of social media," says Walburn. "Stay connected with those who are 'in the trenches' with you. That way, if you are feeling particularly sore, tired, or unmotivated, you can share your sentiments and will always have a positive force to pull you up and out of your funk." If your gym or studio doesn't have a community forum, Walburn suggests you create one of your own.
Put Bubble Bath on Your Grocery List
After a killer legs workout on Tuesday and another one for your arms on Wednesday, we bet your body is on fire and you're practically doing an army crawl just to get up the stairs. Instead of ditching the gym because you're too sore, plan ahead and grab some bubble bath during your Sunday morning grocery store run. Soaking in hot water will help relax your sore muscles. (Sorry, the science backing Epsom salt as an aid that actually soothes your aching muscles is weak, but if you swear by it, by all means, there's no harm in it).
Budget Your Food
Budget your calories and macronutrients in the same fashion you would your finances so you know what you'll afford for the week. "Of course, planning your meals for the week and prepping them is a great idea, but actually logging them in a food app like myfitnesspal.com can keep you from straying from your plan," says Jaime Anton, a certified plant-based nutrition consultant and owner of Record Change Fitness. By doing so, you'll get a glimpse of the calories and macronutrients you'll be consuming and you can adjust your meal plan before you eat. And find out about these 36 Ways to Cut 50 Calories or More to make your calorie budget even better!
Set Workout Appointments
Follow the golden workout rule: Plan your weekly workouts and schedule them in your calendar. "If you wait until you 'have time,' you will never fit it in," cautions Anton. "When I used to work in corporate finance, I'd block off my calendar for a class that I wanted to take at our gym and use that as my lunch hour. I'd then eat my lunch at my desk as I worked when I got back. If I knew my day would be too busy, I'd wake up early and get a run or workout in prior to starting my work day." Sure, it's tough to wake up before the sun, but know that your future self might be too exhausted after work. If you have a trainer, schedule a few weekly workouts with him or her to promote accountability, she suggests. Or, if you go to a studio where you have to sign up in advance for classes, do that! "If you're going to get charged for skipping it, you probably won't," Anton says.
Clean Out Your Fridge
Have leftovers from a weekend dinner at your favorite restaurant or from that football party
you hosted? Dump them, suggests Anton, so it's out of sight, out of mind. "Let's face it, if those leftover chicken wings, chips, and dips are staring at you from your fridge, you're going to eat them. Avoid the temptation and just get rid of them."
Roll Out the Yoga Mat
Whether you're new to yoga or a devout yogi, everyone can benefit from taking the time to breathe and get centered before starting the work week, Anton suggests. "Hip openers, twisting postures and breath work are very detoxifying and set you up for making healthy choices throughout your week. When the mind feels good, so does the body, and vice versa."
Write in Your Journal
It's okay if you lose your "app-etite." Sleep experts remind us that glowing electronics and fiddling on your phone before bedtime will disrupt sleep. Instead, use a journal not just before bed, but throughout the day to set goals and celebrate milestones. "Track your progress by writing it down. Yes, put pen to paper," says Angela Mader, the founder of fitlosophy, a line of fitness products and journals including the flagship "fitbook." "Journaling both your workout and meal plan for the week ahead sets you up for success." A Kaiser Permanente study found participants in a six-month weight loss program lost twice as much weight when they kept a food journal compared to those who didn't track their calories. Psst! We've got 10 Tips for Keeping a Food Journal for Weight Loss you'll love!
Make A Workout Date
Reach out to a friend, and instead of setting up a happy hour or dinner at a restaurant, book a workout together for later in the week. Whether that's an after-work hike or a trail run or taking that new inverted yoga class you saw advertised at your gym, it's a new way to bond with your buds—and we bet they'll appreciate your healthy motivation. Texting your friends and setting up those workout dates adds accountability, Mader says.
Get Some Shopping Inspo
Before you make your Sunday grocery store run, plan out your meals and snacks for the week. Block out an hour to plan, suggests Nancy Guberti, a certified nutritionist, and if you need inspiration for healthy meals, mine hashtags for some on Instagram. And definitely scope out this list of 35 Foods Busy People Keep Stocked to see what you're missing from your kitchen!
Set Healthy Habit Reminders
During the commercial breaks of Sunday football, start setting up some reminders in your smartphone. Daily reminders can help you execute healthy habits, says Gubert, whether that's a nudge to take your supplements, exercise, or eat your snack before you reach those nearly-shaky levels of hungry. "These healthy reminders can also be used to negate any self-sabotaging habits," says Guberti. "For example, if you know that at 3 p.m. you are feeling sluggish and going for that candy bar, then set a reminder to eat your Paleo bar instead."
Prep Protein Shakes and Smoothies
Ideally, you'd wake up before your alarm went off, make breakfast for yourself, and have plenty of time leftover to get to the gym before work. But on those mornings when you're rushing out the door (confession: almost every morning) and you need a grab-and-go breakfast, reach for a smoothie. Simply put your smoothie ingredients in freezer bags so all you just have to do is push the blend button on a hectic morning. We got you covered with these 56 Best Smoothie Recipes for Weight Loss!
Check Your Calendar
There could be some weight-loss traps lurking on your calendar, like that meeting with your boss that could set you up to stress eat afterward. Don't let these scheduled obligations trip you up during the week. On Sunday, review your week ahead and be aware of those days that you have meetings that might run into your lunch hour or keep you late at the office—and then plan your meals accordingly. And while you may not have a personal assistant or chef, the next best thing is your slow-cooker that can cook for you while you're at work. Plan ahead with these 35 Healthy Crock Pot Recipes!
Cut Up Your Fruits and Veggies
No need to pay extra at the grocery store for pre-cut produce. Slice up your own fruits and veggies on Sunday night, Guberti says. That way, you'll have peppers on hand for a stir-fry or crunchy crudites to answer your snack attack.
Set Alarms to Go to Sleep
Research at Brown University that tracked the sleep schedules of 132 first-year students found consistent sleep schedules can help with weight loss. Don't let your erratic sleep schedule cancel out all those extra lunges you've been doing. Set an alarm on your phone 30 minutes before your scheduled bedtime. Then, start winding down and be sure to avoid these 20 Foods That Keep You Up at Night.
Do Your Dirty Laundry
Sometimes, you need your favorite sports bra to hoist you up and snap you into the gym. And remember that time you skipped your kickboxing class because you couldn't find matching socks? Start the week fresh with clean gym clothes. Bonus points if you can actually pack them ahead of time so you can grab-and-go in the morning. Double bonus round if you set your gym bag on the passenger seat of your car so that it's a friendly reminder to get to the gym!
Portion Out Your Snacks
What you guesstimate as 17 pretzels could be double that. Portion out snacks on Sunday while you're listening to your favorite podcast. When you're packing lunches for the week, you'll have your perfectly portioned snack bags at your disposal. It's easy to master your snack attacks with these 50 Best Healthy Snacks for Weight Loss.