Do You Deserve a Cheat Day?
You know the routine – all week long you’re eating well, starting to feel great, getting into the flow of a healthy week, avoiding the tempting treats all around you, and then BAM, the weekend rolls around and your cheat day arrives. Suddenly it’s like your will-power, healthy routine and mindful choices disappear and all of the foods you put on the naughty list during the week are suddenly free game.
Then, you wake up Monday morning and start the cycle all over again. By Wednesday, you’re feeling good, building your confidence, feeling better in your clothes, getting rid of the weekend bloat, and then BAM, here we are again.
I know these things because I lived this way for a long time. I was super strict all week long with my mental lists of foods I could eat during the week and the foods I would indulge in on the weekends. I felt like I was so good all week long that I deserved my cheat days. But, I was wrong -very, very wrong.
Not only was I going about a healthy lifestyle all wrong, but my thinking about what I actually deserved was backwards.
Some Pitfalls of a Cheat Day
That one day of eating whatever you want throws your body, your progress, and your healthy mentality into a tailspin. The stability to your blood sugar and hormones that you worked hard to achieve all week gets turned upside down, your carb cravings sky rocket and make returning to a healthy routine much more challenging, and you most likely feel guilty and yucky from eating unhealthy foods.
You feel you deserve a cheat day - or at least I felt I had earned mine- when in reality that thinking is backwards. You are rewarding yourself for eating healthy and sticking to a healthy routine with unhealthy food. The reward should be providing your body with what it needs to function at it's best. Reward yourself with something that is good for you, like a manicure, or a new outfit.
Putting foods on the good list or the bad list sometimes makes us want the foods on the bad list that much more. Yes, I certainly have foods that I try to avoid and foods that I predominantly eat. The difference is this – it’s not because I have to, but because I want to. I want to fuel my body with the highest quality fuel possible. I want to feel good. I don’t want to backtrack every weekend, I want to continually make progress. But sometimes I also want a cookie. So, I have one and I enjoy it, and I move on with my life.
It’s called a lifestyle because it’s something that you do every day, not something that you do when you feel like it. Living a healthy lifestyle doesn’t mean you go on and off a diet, it means you make changes that last, changes that are forever, and changes that are healthy for your body and your mind. A cheat day allows you to get on and off the ride without fully committing to doing what is best for your body. However, a healthy lifestyle certainly involves mindful indulges as well.
Why you Don’t Deserve a Cheat Day
Because, you deserve to be in control. You have permission to make the choice any day of the week, any moment of the day, whether or not you want to indulge.
Let’s say your indulgence is a cupcake. Guess what, the cupcake is always there, whether it is your cheat day or not. The difference is how you look at the cupcake and what you think about that cupcake. You can indulge whenever you want. When it’s worth it – go for it. You know how you will feel after you eat something indulgent. You know what your goals are. You make the choice. Rather than storing up all of your indulgences for one day and undoing your progress towards your goals – give yourself permission to make the choice to indulge whenever you want to. You might be surprised that once you are in control of that choice, you’ll most likely make the best one for your body and your mind.
You might choose to indulge, and you should every once in a while! If you do, enjoy your cupcake. If you indulge and it wasn’t worth it, now you know, and you have the confidence to make a different choice next time – a choice that you will want to make. The beauty of thinking this way is that the cupcake no longer has the control, you do!
Give it a try, change your thinking, and you might find that you don’t need a cheat day to get you through the week anymore. Letting go of all of the strict rules we put on ourselves about dieting is scary. If you let go of the good and bad list, get rid of your cheat day and find yourself face-to-face with a cupcake, you’ll have a choice to make. Trust yourself to make the right one in that moment.