Once I released my last weight loss article on managing social pressure when it comes to eating out, I received a lot of questions regarding the cheat day. The common problem seems to be that most folks have a hard time keeping their weekly cheat day down to a treat or two. What seems to happen is that people go nuts and starting binging once they get a taste of the “good stuff”. Now I’d like to make things easy and say that if that’s the case for you, then just don’t have a cheat day but I know that’s not going to work. We need a better solution. So lets set up the scenario and see what we can come up with.
So lets say you have been giving yourself a cheat day once a week. You follow any of a number of fat loss programs to the T, six days a week and have been losing about one pound per week. Not bad at all. This has been a great track record for you for the past three weeks you have been on the program. But here is where the plot thickens. During the cheat day, you find yourself going hog wild, and eating every single treat you can get your hands on just because you know that you shouldn’t allow yourself to eat those kinds of treats the other six days of the week if you want great results. You do the crime and get grouchy during your cheat day because you inadvertently make yourself sick. Your body is so shocked from all of the sugar, fat and extreme surplus of extra calories that you have consumed in your frenzy of taste sensations.
Oh bother! Your intuition screams that what you are doing to yourself is very bad for your body, and that these actions are NOT what I had in mind for including the cheat day into this fat loss program.
So the question then becomes, “How do I maintain a relaxed, do whatever I want because it’s cheat day attitude while still enjoying a “couple” of my favorite treats in MODERATION?” Well the first point to contend with is that you cannot do whatever you want because its cheat day. Its called discipline and sacrifice. If you didn’t want to hear those words, then work on those skills if you want your weight loss efforts to yield any results.
The purpose of the cheat day is to cause a slight temporary increase in your bodies caloric intake so that your metabolism stays high and strong. As a side benefit, most of us fitness coaches say to get the bugs out of your system and enjoy a treat on your cheat day to kill two birds with one stone. (No animals were harmed in the making of this article.) It is a shift in perception that is important. The treat is not the reason for the day. The treat is a side benefit. Would you get better results if you increased your calories through increased complex carbohydrates and some high quality protein? You bet you would.
The thing is, most people want a treat now and then. As a fitness and weight loss coach you can either be right with your clients or you can get results for your clients. If your going to cheat on the program, you should at least do it in a controlled fashion in the context of a cheat day.
Now that the nuts and bolts are out of the way. I’m going to give you some tips on how I personally handle my cheat days of heavenly taste sensations.
First if the guilty feeling sets in fast for you even when you keep your cheat days sane, try this. I like to do some sort of workout or light activity. I almost always keep treats confined to the post workout replenishing window. A walk to the video store or a jog in the park before you have a cheat meal just makes you feel like you are creating a deficit that you can replace without any harm. You are actually, but its more fun to think you are getting away with something. Let me also say that 90% of the time I eat treats, my conscience makes think about what the treats doing to my abs. Listening to this little voice is the key to keeping your cheat day to just one meal or treat.
After reading this article, you know you should increase your daily calories on the cheat day so you follow my advice and do that to maintain progress with your fat loss. What keeps you from going hog wild is that there is no temporary sensation that food can offer, that replaces the permanent feeling of pride you will have when you look at your new found levels of self discipline, physical achievements and over all feeling of well being.
Feeling like crap all day long does not do it for me and I’m guessing it doesn’t work for you either. So enjoy your treat but stop there because now you should be thinking ahead about how it always makes you feel mentally and physically for the rest of the day when you go overboard. The joy of food pleasures is a couple of minutes. The joy of a tight waist, butt and rapid weight loss lasts all day long.
Think of a cheat treat like sex. A couple of minutes of bad decision-making can have crazy long-term effects. Even better and much less graphic, think of it like drinking. It feels good at the time. Its fun in moderation, but push it too far and a couple of hours fun one night, leads to feeling like crap the whole next day.
The key to stopping anything you do not want to do is looking at the cost to benefits that the action gives. Learn to talk yourself into and out of things!
I hope this helps you in you weight loss and fat burning efforts!