I do NOT believe in Cheat Days.
But before anyone zones out or gets angry let me explain my point.
Recently I talked about the “4-Hour Body” book I was reading and how I did not agree with his statement that everyone should have a Binge Day each week. Not only do I thoroughly disagree with the phrase BINGE DAY, I also don’t agree with the concept of Cheat Days.
Lots of diet plans have a “cheat day.” It’s my understanding that Weight Watchers has a Cheat Day as well. Maybe they work for you. Maybe having a Cheat Day keeps you more motivated to lose weight the other 6 days of the week. But for me I’ve never liked the terms.
1. CHEAT DAY implies that I’m on a diet.
I am NOT on a diet. I’m not doing a fad diet or starvation diet in order to lose weight fast. I am changing my entire lifestyle. With changing my lifestyle that means I am changing all of my bad habits–like BINGEING.
I think the one thing I’ve been consistent with portraying on my blog is the fact that I live my life in a balanced way. I eat pizza, I eat dessert but I also exercise 5 days a week and I eat quality food most of the time. I think my life has changed for the better because of these things.
2. Cheat Day implies that I’m doing something NAUGHTY.
Like 6 days a week I deny myself food I want, eating carrots and celery and then one day a week I get SNEAK food and “cheat” on my diet (see statement #1), right?
I don’t think my healthy living lifestyle should have at it’s core SHAME or GUILT. And that’s exactly how I would feel if one day a week I binged on everything in sight just because I could.
3. I don’t want to live my life longing for my Cheat Day.
The most important part of the way I live my life at 144 pounds is eating the things I LOVE whenever I want. I balance those treats, snacks and splurges with regular, vigorous exercise and moderate eating throughout the day.
For example: I know that I will almost always eat more calories on a Saturday night than I will on a Tuesday night. So Saturdays are my days for a long workout. I have zero guilt about anything I eat on Saturdays because I know I worked out and I made healthy choices throughout the day before indulging in the Saturday Night Dinner.
4. I make healthy choices every day in order to “cheat” every day.
For example: I know that I will want dessert most nights. Instead of having a string cheese or extra handful of chips with lunch, or candy at work, I’d much rather save those 200 calories and eat them for dessert after dinner.
That concept will just make me want that forbidden food more. Then I’ll obsess about it, crave it, think about how I can get that food. How is that a healthy, balanced way to live my life? I would much rather eat whatever food I want, in smaller portions, to satisfy a craving AND if I am truly hungry.
I suppose there are inherent “Cheat Days” already in the calender year: Birthdays, anniversaries, Christmas, Thanksgiving…I could make an excuse to overeat almost every day if I wanted to. “It’s New Year’s Eve! Eat!” or “It’s the 4th of July! BBQ Time!” One burger on the grill with some fruit salad, a serving of potato chips and maybe some pickles tastes just as good as a BINGE event on a holiday. In fact, it probably tastes better eaten in moderation because I haven’t made myself feel sick overeating.
One argument FOR a cheat day by a lot of sources is that having one cheat day a week changes your metabolism because you shake up the caloric intake and confuse your body into losing more weight. I think this is accurate. I’ve seen it many times every time I’ve hit a plateau in my weight loss journey.
My response to that? My caloric intake is different every single day, so I’m already “confusing” my body. Bingeing won’t give me any added benefits (and it will damage my self-esteem). I eat more calories on the days that I work out. And even on days I work out, I eat varying calories depending on the activity I am doing. If it’s a Saturday and I’ve spent over an hour in the gym and burned 700+ calories, I’m going to eat almost 700+ calories more. But on days I swim and only burn 350 calories? I don’t always eat those 350 calories back.
In the end it’s a personal decision. If Weight Watchers works for people and they advocate “Cheat Days”, follow the program. I don’t do WW but I think they are a good program to lose weight the real way.
For me, I’d rather have a little bit of a treat every day instead.
QUESTION: How do you feel about “Cheat Days/Binge Days”? Do practice it?