Cheat Days Vs. Healthy Eating Habits

The question came at me again. Often there are similar ones that arise in conversations  in regards to health and wellness.

“Do you allow yourself a cheat day/meal?”

If you don’t know what that means, in the fitness world it’s a day set aside where you eat whatever suits your fancy. Anything you’ve been craving or put off limits from yourself. It could be a meal or an all day eating frenzy depending on how deprived you feel.

The answer is a big “no”.

No, I don’t. Never have and don’t have any intention of starting.

I’ll tell you why. October marked my 8th year on my health and wellness journey.

8 years people. I’ve lost the weight of a hefty toddler child and about 5 pant sizes. In those years I not only lost fat but have built muscle and a strong physique that allows me to enjoy all my outdoor athletic sports and gives me a good deal of energy and strength for living life.

I’ve not gained it back or played yo yo dieting games.

As I’ve gotten deeper into endurances sports I’ve come to accept that my body will go through times of being leaner when I’m doing a lot of training and a bit softer when I’m not heavy training. I can fluctuate within 5-7 pounds and I’m ok with that.

Losing weight and keeping it off for a lifetime involves small, consistent, changes that turn into new habits. It’s really the only thing that works and you have to intentionally build on it every day.

The cheat day/meal thing

if you’ve followed me for awhile you know I’m “anti” diet and diet hype nonsense. I consider my take on things practical, livable and sustainable. When I started my journey one thing I set out for myself was that nothing was off limits or to be considered “Bad or good”.

For me, it took a ton of power away from food. Mentally, if I knew I could have “whatever” then I was less likely to think about it or “wish” I could have it.

cheat meal days

It’s amazing how that works.

Allowing myself a fun meal with my family and then resuming my normal eating took away feelings of “deprivation”.

Admit it, haven’t you at some point been dieting and everyone is eating and living the good life and you feel freaking miserable, left out, disgusted with yourself and well…fat?

Me too and enough of that already.

Having a fun meal or some birthday cake at a party didn’t undo all my efforts. I had mentally taken on living healthier and I loved being in control of my choices.

If I didn’t want cake, I didn’t eat it. If I did I was smart enough to know a small piece wouldn’t end my efforts.

On the other side, saving a day to eat all the things you’ve withheld from yourself or over eating can lead to you feeling bad (physically) and bad (mentally ) for over doing it.

Binge eating only feels good in that moment.

The power of your choices

Learning to change my lifestyle I also learned there was a tremendous amount of power I had in my choices of food I made.

It was rather freeing.

Making healthier choices began to get easier and the other foods that used to have a pull on me began to have less.

But sometimes… chocolate. Or French fries.

Let’s face it when you are trying to lose weight those cravings or desires don’t come in at your scheduled cheat day do they? And what if it’s cheat day and you don’t really feel like having it?

I found allowing myself a small amount of whatever I wanted set the craving aside and took it out of my mind.  I’m still like that. If there is a strong pull, almost a physical need, I listen to my body.

I can tell you if I want something particular the need is quenched and I’m on with life again.

It is powerful making choices for yourself. Choices that involve thinking and listening to your body.

Think of how mindlessly you can eat. Eek. Tell me you’ve had those moments, that I’m not alone!

You know.. maybe you aren’t truly hungry but you are stuffing food in ’cause it’s there? or you’re in the pantry at 10 at night trolling but you know you aren’t needing food? Or when you eat past what you need to feed your appetite?

Making smaller more mindful choices on a daily basis will lead to weight loss that lasts long term and not just a few weeks until you’re eager to get back to “normal”.

Practice makes perfect…er… perfect “ish”.

Ok so no one is perfect or nails the eating thing perfectly.  With time, consistency and practice the cool thing is it will start to become second nature.  As you teach yourself to balance all food groups and eat in a healthy manner with room for those treats and celebratory moments you will find yourself automatically making those good choices and passing on things that don’t support your health and fitness goals.

You won’t need a cheat day to enjoy life or the things you love. You won’t feel deprived as you work on building new habits and skills in your life. You will feel empowered by trusting yourself and making mindful choices.

cheat days

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Published by

Sassyfitnesschick

8 years ago I began what I now refer to as my "journey into lifestyle fitness". After a yearly check in with my Dr he said I looked "really good on paper, but I might consider losing a few pounds" I wasn't offended... I knew I needed to but it seemed like to much work at the time. In that year we had adopted 2 girls out of foster care, plus caring for my 3 sons & husband sort of left me on the back burner taking care of "me". I told him I "used to" walk & he encouraged me to at least get back to that. I left his office that day, started, & never quit. As time moved on my walks increased in length & speed. I started mingling some jogging into it...then after more time some short sprints. One day I realized I was doing more running than anything else. I learned to run longer and farther. I constantly challenged myself to do more. I realized I had turned into a runner & was loving it. I have since run 6 half marathons, 2 full marathons, and my first 50K scheduled for March 1,2015. Not bad for a girl who just started off walking not quite 2 miles! My body was now beginning to show the results of my work as weight & inches dropped off. I began to add in boxing & weights on days I wasn't running. Over time as the fat left, my new muscles were waiting underneath =) Obviously, I also made some food changes. Nothing drastic..just started eating less and trying to eat better.. I hated diets and how they made me feel....deprived & left out of all the fun...so adjusting & eating less of what I liked and moving more.. I found myself getting in decent physical shape. It began my thinking of lifestyle and not "dieting". As I got stronger,healthier & more fit it was an easier process to "let go" of some of the foods I had enjoyed. I had more energy, strength and confidence in what I could do. It was empowering. It made me realize that I probably wasn't the only one who wanted to lose weight, be healthy & strong but not always be on some sort of "diet". Maybe my journey & what I had learned & been doing might possibly help others to success in their lives... I consider myself to be rather normal and ordinary ( meaning I haven't always been into fitness and healthy eating) it has been a steady, daily, learned process with good days and bad days and my hope is that you too, will see the greatness in you, and that you have the ability and power to change and do anything you put your mind to. If you want change, you can make it happen. It's just one day at a time, making smart moves and better choices, and before you know it, things are happening. Get started on your journey, really, what do you have to lose ? And yet, so much to gain =)

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