I get it. I really do. I used to love having one day a week where all nutritious thought went out the window and I could eat pints of ice cream and boxes of pizza until my pants got uncomfortably tight while still thinking I could reach my goals. That can be a fun bubble to live in, but today we’ve got to burst it. If you are serious about losing weight, cheat days shouldn’t be part of the equation. In fact, even if you AREN’T trying to lose weight, cheat days aren’t good for you.
Cheat days will mess with your mind. “Cheating” implies that you are doing something bad by eating certain foods and flips a switch in the brain that makes that food SO much more desirable. After all, we always want what we can’t have. This creates a vicious cycle of feeling bad–you feel bad that you can’t have this tasty food whenever you want it, you feel bad if you eat it because that wasn’t supposed to happen, and you feel bad physically when you inevitably over-do it and eat a whole tub of ice cream in one sitting because you’ve “been so good all week” and you “deserve it.”
Here is some tough love for you, my friend–food isn’t a reward. You’re not a dog getting treats for doing tricks. You are a smart, strong, capable human being who knows what choices will get you closer to your goals and what ones won’t. I tell my clients all the time: I love to bake, I love chocolate, pizza, candy…and I eat all of it in moderation. I don’t tell myself that any of those foods are off limits. Ever. If it’s a Monday night and I’m desperate for take out, I may or may not decide that it’s worth the trade-offs and get some, but I won’t tell myself that I have to wait for a “cheat day” to let myself eat it. Balance is healthy, restriction is not.
Cheat days also tell you that you need a reward for doing what’s good for you. Think about it. Why would you reward yourself for doing something healthy with something that is unhealthy? Where is the logic in that? You would never reward yourself for hitting a big deadline at work by failing to complete your next project, would you? The same applies to fitness. Instead of saying “I worked out 3 times this week so now I can eat as much as I want on Saturday”, try saying “I worked out 3 times this week and my body feels more energized. Maybe I should reward it with healthy fuel so I can power my workouts and feel even better next week!”
I know this is hard and run counter to a lot of what you read online, but when you can see the heath and fitness you gain from eating well and working out as a reward IN AND OF ITSELF, rather than a chore, you will see far more results than you ever thought possible. Mindset is the key to changing your life.
Do you love cheat days? Hate them? Let’s start the conversation! Leave a comment and let me know your thoughts on the subject, I’d love to hear what you think.