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Why Wednesday – Why I Don’t Have a Cheat Day

Why Wednesday – Why I Don’t Have a Cheat Day

Lisa Eirene

About Lisa Eirene Lisa lost 110 pounds through calorie counting and exercise. She swims, bikes, runs, hikes and is enjoying life in Portland, Oregon. Her weight loss story has been featured in First Magazine, Yahoo Health, Woman's Day and

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  1. Amber from Girl with the Red Hair

    Love it! I totally agree with all these things but especially the fact that cheat day implies a diet and I make healthy choices every day in order to “cheat” every day.

    Also, after being on this healthy living journey for 3 years now, the idea of a cheat or binge day GROSSES ME OUT. I LIKE putting healthy, yummy, whole foods in my body. The idea of filling my body with fast food/heavy food is NOT appealing at all to me nor is the idea of binging until I feel sick. I used to binge eat a lot and it is NOT a pleasant feeling at all, why would someone want to/look forward to putting themselves through that?

    1. Lisa Eirene

      You make a great point that I failed to articulate: overeating makes me feel GROSS. Psychologically AND physically! And I’m not on a diet. I count my calories to keep me “honest” to myself that I am eating what is a normal amount of food for whatever my activities are for the day. If it’s a rest day, I don’t NEED to eat 700 extra calories. 1800 is just fine.

  2. Valerie Furnas

    I completely agree with you. As a teacher I rage against cheating all day then have to have that to look forward to is upsetting.

  3. Lori

    I have talked about this on my blog, so I am going to post my thoughts directly here from that post…. warning… novel ahead 😀

    I don’t know if there is a term I care for less in the weight loss world than ‘cheat day’. The name alone is a totally negative term.

    First, the word ‘cheat’ is defined by Websters as:

    1: to deprive of something valuable by the use of deceit or fraud
    2: to influence or lead by deceit, trick, or artifice
    3: to elude or thwart by or as if by outwitting
    1 a: to practice fraud or trickery b: to violate rules dishonestly

    Do any of these definitions sound like something you want to apply to your life? No one is perfect, and no one eats totally on plan all the time (I certainly don’t). But I don’t consider it ‘cheating’ when I go off plan. And sometimes those off plan foods are actually planned in. Then I have control over them.

    Cheating also implies that the way you are eating is not something you can sustain for a lifetime. If you view your eating plan as so rigid and uncompromising that you cannot have some of your favorites – then how can you possibly expect to succeed in maintaining your weight loss (let alone getting to goal)?

    I think it would be better to call it a choice rather than a cheat. There are too many negative feelings and associations with cheating: guilt, remorse, self loathing, the feeling of lack of control.

    If you make a choice, then you are fully aware ahead of time as to the consequences of your actions. You can say, “I am choosing to have this piece of cheesecake. It will not cause me to go off plan, it is not a license to abandon the rest of the day (eating wise), and I can get right back on my normal plan with the next meal.”
    That can eliminate the guilt, because if you are going to have something – why not truly enjoy it without the guilt?

    1. Lisa Eirene

      Okay I’m still catching up on my RSS today so I’ll check out your post shortly. Funny we’re on the same page!

      I particularly liked “Cheating also implies that the way you are eating is not something you can sustain for a lifetime. ” I don’t plan on giving up chocolate or pizza for the rest of my life in order to lose or maintain my 100 pounds loss. I want to be able to eat those things–even if they are in “low calorie alternative” ways (like deLite pizza or Weight Watchers recipes that are low in calories). I’d rather have it in my life in some way than not at all.

  4. Julie

    First, I can’t believe he called it a “binge day”. That is JUST WRONG! Second, I agree with your approach completely! I followed Body-for-Life for many years and although I love that program in general, the Free Day ended up being trouble. I would actually force feed myself in order to make sure I was getting every desire satisfied and beyond.

    p.s. that pizza pic looked so good. I <3 pizza SO much! YUM!

    1. Lisa Eirene

      Agreed! The fact that he used the term “Binge Day” in his book turned me OFF for the rest of the book! I just could not take anything he said seriously.

  5. Carbzilla

    I totally agree with you about cheat days. They’d be dangerous for me.

    I’ve been following Weight Watchers for 20 years and have never heard them mention cheat days. I think you may be thinking of the weekly points that can be used for indulgences or when you’re not satisfied. People can opt to use them or use them only when an occasion comes up, but I’ve never heard them advocate a regular cheat day. I think Weight Watchers’ basic tenet is eating to satisfaction while staying in parameters that allow for weight loss. Within that framework, everyone has to figure out what works for them.

    I have found that by eating whatever I want, while losing weight, has taken away a lot of the uncontrollable desire for certain foods. I can eat pretty much any food now and be able to stop. The food doesn’t have control over me. Whoohoo!

    1. Lisa Eirene

      Thanks for the clarification.

      I like your comment about the FOOD NOT CONTROLLING YOU. Excellent! That’s how I’d feel if I was trying to follow some “diet” that included a cheat day. That cheat day would completely overtake my life.

  6. caroline

    I realize that you aren’t on Weight Watchers so you aren’t informed on the program like I am or other people.Weight Watchers is not like body for life or other programs where a “cheat day” is allowed. Much like how you set a calorie limit each day, we have daily points, and when we want to indulge we can because we have weekly points to “cushion” us. Same basic principle applies to your diet/lifestyle-eat healthy, exercise, and indulge occasionally. Hopefully this will clear up some of your misconceptions about the program.

    1. Lisa Eirene

      I am not a WW person. I’ve only been to one meeting to see what it was like but I was just going off what friends who are ON on WW talk about…one refers to her “Cheat Day.” I assumed that was part of the program. Thanks for clearing that up.

  7. Beth @ Beth's Journey to Thin

    Carbzilla is right about WW – there’s no “cheat day” on WW, you just have extra points you can use throughout the week or on a certain day, however you would like to use them. Personally, what I’ve found works for me, is if I do pick one night or one day to not count points and just consider myself using all of those extra points. I don’t think its a cheat day in the same way that I eat everything and anything I can get my hands on, but if its a social situation, or a happy hour or something, i’ll use that to drink a few extra drinks and get some fries or whatever else I want, and not worry about it. I do allow myself other indulgences throughout the week and don’t think of myself as being on a diet at all, but I do like having one day to have extra and not feel guilty about it.

    1. Lisa Eirene

      About once a month or so I go a day or two without counting my calories. It’s a nice break–usually a mental break. And it’s not like I go nuts with the calories.

    2. definediana

      You’ve had some good explinations on how weight watchers works. I am on it too and am similar to Beth. On the weekend I eat mostly the same, but I may eat out or have a few drinks. Its not a cheat day though. I could eat a little more throughout out the week if I would like, but choose to use my points this way.

      But you have obviously found what works for you and that is awesome. Its all about what works for each person.

      Btw. I mentioned your blog post about the sausages in my Weight watchers meeting the other day when we were talking about portion sizes. See you’re influencing weight watchers too 😉

      1. Lisa Eirene

        That is so cool Diana! Thanks for sharing. And portion sizes are such an important factor. And my biggest struggle!

  8. Marilyn @ Lipgloss and Spandex

    Cheat days don’t work for me. I obsess over all the things I want to eat on cheat days and go crazy. So I try to eat the things I want, but in small quantities for the things that are less healthy. And now and then I’ll go all out, but I don’t plan those days–I just try and make sure they don’t happen too often.

  9. Coco

    I pretty much agree with you. I definitely am at a stage where I can eat what I want because what I want is mostly healthy and I have room in my balanced diet for a daily dose of chocolate.

    My other issue with “cheat” days is that they can send me into a downward spiral, and it can be hard to get back on track the next day. Especially if I over ate, and so am not hungry, and so skip meals and then get starving. It can be a vicious cycle!

    1. Lisa Eirene

      Agreed. Once I start slipping back into old ways I struggle to get back on track. 🙁

  10. blackhuff

    I too don’t like “cheat days” cause this can cause people to fall of the wagon completely. A cheat meal, yes but not a cheat day.

  11. Sara

    OMG that picture of the girl chowing down on chocolate is awesome! 😛 Love the pic!

    I really like your mentality about eating in moderation. I think it’s the most realistic view of having a healthy lifestyle and avoiding the diet mentality. 🙂


    1. Lisa Eirene

      Being realistic and knowing that I will be tempted to eat things that aren’t necessarily “healthy” but that I can eat it SMALL portions takes away all the anxiety!

  12. Candace

    You are so 100% right about this! That’s why I love your blog so much – you’re doing the right things in a very REALISTIC and doable way.

    1. Lisa Eirene

      Thank you Candace! That’s great to hear. 🙂

  13. Jennifer

    I agree with you! The term “cheat” would make me feel guilty and the term “binge” kinda grosses me out! I’m sure I’ve done both…but I try not to feel badly if I’ve eaten a cookie or a piece of pizza, or both, one day, when I know I’ve eaten healthfully the rest of the day and worked out. I’m still struggling with this, though. I have a tendency to eat outside my calorie range on the weekend. I’ve written about it a lot. I’m trying new things, like bringing healthy snacks to my BF’s on the weekend, and trying to eat fro-yo instead of ice cream if we go out for dessert. But more often than not, I feel like I am cheating a lot on the weekends! But as you said: I need to look at it as a lifestyle change I’m making. I do feel that’s what I’m doing…now I just need to work on the balance and squashing the guilt!

    1. Lisa Eirene

      The guilt is part of it. Sure, I eat more on the weekends but I also exercise more on the weekends too. The guilt will always be part of my life but I’m doing better at realizing that it’s OK and I don’t need to feel guilty…

  14. Aj

    I agree about not calling it a cheat day or a binge day. I am more lax on the weekends – primarily because that’s when we have time to go out and eat more indulgent foods. Sometimes that coincides with a harder workout and other times it doesn’t – although since being more mindful of my calories in/calories out, it tends to coincide with longer runs. I have heard the theory of “shocking” your metabolism so R and I jokingly call the days we go out to dinner and have a few drinks as “shock and awe” (a la W). And you’re right the hardest part is the guilt…I’m think I’m still struggling with the lifestyle change and recognizing that it’s not all indulgence and not all restriction but a balance of both.

    1. Lisa Eirene

      Me too….my natural schedule ends up being harder workouts on weekends + higher calorie foods. But so far it’s worked for me!

      I like that “shock and awe”. I might have to adopt that phrase. 😉

  15. Elizabeth@GenuineEfforts

    Hey, I wrote something very similar just the other day on my own blog. I made the argument that by labeling foods as bad or good we then believe that by eating them we are either bad or good.

    Instead I am trying to categorize foods as either everyday foods or sometimes foods. I try to think of oatmeal, fruits, dairy and other things as everyday foods while my favorite pizza place with wings that I love is a sometime food. Real Coke, also a sometimes food.

    1. Lisa Eirene

      I like the terms “Sometimes Food” and “Everyday food.” That takes away the guilt and shame when eating certain types of food.

  16. Chanel

    Cheat Days do not work!!! I lost weight using them, but now I’m stuck in this vicious cycle in which I undereat all week because I know that on Friday, I won’t be able to control myself. I eat almost to the point of sickness…its ridiculous but once you start that cycle, its almost impossible to stop! My undereating leaves me with very little energy, especially towards the end of the week, but I know I can’t control myself on cheat day so I won’t allow myself to eat more. I hate it! Take if from someone who knows….CHEAT DAYS ARE DETRIMENTAL TO A HEALTHY DIET!!!

    1. Lisa Eirene

      I agree whole-heartedly Chanel!

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