Monday, May 6, 2013

Cheat Days

Since I started this journey to trim down I've heard one phrase over and over again from the people around me:  "Cheat Day."   Anytime there are cookies or candy or pizza brought in to work, I try to abstain .. but someone always says to me, "You're allowed to have a cheat day."  And eventually, I give in.

Courtesy: Four Hour Body Couple

Now, most people are able to give themselves a "Cheat Day."  But in case you haven't noticed, I'm not most people.  This "Cheat Day" business opened the door for me to eat whatever I wanted.   Now, in theory this is good.  But in my world of overindulging it led to two weeks of crappy food, and no weight loss.

Frustrating right???

Besides, I'm not really a fan of the term.  "Cheat Day" makes it sound like I'm doing something wrong.  Like I shouldn't be eating those things-- which obviously I shouldn't because I can't control myself.  But what else would you call it?  "Indulgence Day?"  "Free Food Day?"... that sounds like a man in a truck is driving around neighborhoods handing out junk food.

We'll put a pause on this re-naming conversation for now, and move on...

Today, I decided to do a little research on Cheat Days... and I only really found arguments for them.  They include the following:

  • Your muscles need to repair-- Now, I don't really understand how food falls into this argument.  This feels more like reasoning for a rest day, than a cheat day.
  • Everything in Moderation-- I get this one.  If you eat well most days, you should be allowed to indulge every once and a while... or once a week.  A glass of wine, a dessert, a handful of chips.  This works if you can keep your inner fatty under control... at this point, I cannot.
  • Combat Cravings-- Yes it's true that having a little chocolate or a few chips when you crave them will keep you from going off the binge eating deep-end.  So I understand why this is an argument for giving yourself a cheat day.  But what happens when you overindulge your cravings?
Those are great pro-cheat day explanations... well, the second two are.  But what about the cons?
  • Creating extreme cravings-- Sure indulging once a week could help combat cravings, or it could just make you crave those things more.  A great comparison I read: "for some people a cheat day is more like smoking a cigarette after they've struggled to kick the habit."
  • Falling off the Wagon-- Let's take things one step further, igniting those old cravings could take things to the extreme.. and cause you to adopt some or all of your old eating habits.  You could even overindulge, and then you're left with an awful tummy ache.
Now obviously we could what if, and you could until we're blue in the face.  The fact is, there are some good arguments on both sides.  But it's pretty obvious that neither approach works for everyone.  It's what makes us all so unique.

My take on this whole debate, is to try things out.   Take me for example, I tried out the "Cheat Day"  and it eventually led to a "Cheat Week."  So, maybe a weekly "Cheat Day" isn't for me.  Maybe I should scale it back to one day a month.  Or, on special occasions.  Birthdays, Holidays, etc... for me, those things are spread out throughout the year-- so it wouldn't be too hard.

I guess I'll just have to resort to trial and error, until I figure out what works best for me.

What do you think about "Cheat Days?"  I'd love to hear your arguments either for, or against them. How often do you allow yourself a "Cheat Day."  And what do you think of the term itself, "Cheat Day?"  Is there something else you call it?  Leave your comments below!

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