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Reward Yourself with a Cheat Day


Editor’s note: This is a guest post from Jason Bacchetta of Trend Spike, a Men’s Blog and Online Magazine.

When Israel mentioned in his vlog that he believed people should replace food, rather than just cut it out of their diet altogether, I decided to give my opinion on that idea as well. I recently wrote an article on why you CAN go on a diet splurge every now and then. Although my idea was slightly different than what Israel had to say, I think Israel and I are both trying to get a point across.

That is, be realistic. Nobody is perfect, and trying to limit yourself to a hardcore diet that doesn’t allow for any mistakes, will likely work against you, rather than for you. You need to find something that works for YOU, not what supposedly works for your favorite spokes model. If you’re used to eating junk food for every meal, of every day, then dropping the food you love cold turkey, is just not the best option. Too many times, people have tried and failed with that approach. In fact, 75-90% of people who lose weight, regain it back. In my opinion, it’s because they choose a diet that they can’t live with. A healthy eating routine isn’t just about what you do for the next three weeks, it’s about what you do for the rest of your life (as Israel mentions in his video).

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Personally, I’m in the same race to become fit, except I actually have a hard time gaining weight. When I was younger, I would always push myself to the extreme. Not eating right, or missing a workout even if only for a day, would cause me to feel guilty, as if I wasn’t trying hard enough. Sometimes this desire for perfection was exactly the attitude that brought me further away from my goals. Eventually I realized that it’s okay to live a healthy lifestyle, without trying to reach the finish line as fast as possible. It’s all about moderation. When I would allow myself to eat the things I wanted to every now and then, and when I would allow myself to miss a day in the gym, my progress continued uphill. I noticed that I wouldn’t get burned out every month, as I did when I was “hardcore.”

Giving yourself a free day every week as I suggest, or replacing junk food with healthy food (that you enjoy) as Israel suggests, will increase your chances of staying healthy for the long-term. Stop wasting your New Year’s resolution on the same thing every year. Give yourself a chance to win the battle this time. It’s not easy, but it doesn’t have to be hell either.

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About the Author

My name is Israel Lagares. I used to be the kind of guy that was always in shape, but over the last few years I've fallen off tremendously. This site is my final attempt to get back into shape. So far I've lost 70.4 lbs. Check out my weight loss chart, weight loss videos and progress pics. Follow my journey, those of others, and read our thoughts on various health topics. Share your thoughts, experience, and journey here on FMU.

Community Thoughts (11)

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  1. I agree with having a cheat day. Too many times when I try to follow a diet regimen perfectly, I will be stressed out, angry at other around me, and generally just not a nice person to be around. Having a cheat day makes me a happy person!

  2. MizFitNo Gravatar says:

    Im all about the free day once a week with my clients.

    replaces the WHEN WILL I EVER GET PIZZA (or whatever) AGAIN?!!

    with OH I CAN HOLD OFF ON MY CRAVING TODAY AS SATURDAY I GET A FREE MEAL AND CAN HAVE ANYTHING I WISH!!

    MizFit

  3. KimberlyNo Gravatar says:

    The concept of cheating is an individualized approach. In working with thousands of mostly women to loose weight, a ‘cheat’ day is too overwhelming. However, a planned cheat ‘meal’ gives freedom to indulge in favorite foods but doesn’t create a backlash that an entire cheat day can create.

    For many obese folks, eating at free will for an entire day can cause them to be very sick for the next day or two. Sorta like a shock to their digestive system. Then they may not feel like working out and (they think) the only way to relieve the sick feelings is to continue eating junk food….oops, now I’m off my healthy eating habits. :( And sometimes they’ll tell me ‘I get sick when I eat all that healthy food.’ No, they didn’t get sick from the healthy food it was when they went OFF it that caused the sick feeling.

    So my point is cheating for an entire day may be too much for some, but a cheat meal is more rewarding. And plan it too. Don’t decide that oh, today is my cheat day because there’s free donuts in the break room!!! Nope…be in control and stay with your commitment.

    Kimberly

    • IsraelNo Gravatar says:

      Cheat day, cheat meal, it’s all the same to me. When I have a “cheat day” it only takes one meal to satisfy my needs. I don’t go the whole day binging, because it makes me feel sick and disgusted. But, I suppose breaking it down like you did does make sense.

  4. Nice guest blog. I don’t lose weight, but I want to put on weight, because I am too tin.

    • IsraelNo Gravatar says:

      Eat more. Not junk food, real hearty, healthy foods and lift heavy.

    • JasonNo Gravatar says:

      I agree with Israel. If you’re an ectomorph, you’ll need a lot of calories, carbs, and protein to build muscle, and of course, a solid workout routine.

      Gradually increase your calorie intake each week. Make sure you’re eating lean meats. Take a weight gainer/protein shake twice a day; preferably one after your workout, and one before bed. If you can manage it between your job/school, try to eat 6 meals a day.

  5. JasonNo Gravatar says:

    Kimberly, that’s interesting. If they are getting sick the next day, then they should definitely avoid that strategy. I’d have to wonder if they are force feeding themselves, just because it’s their free day (which I advise against in the article on my blog).

    After I eat healthy food for awhile, I do notice that the thought of some foods (mainly a lot of fast foods like McDonalds) makes me sick..but because of that, I don’t eat it. The thought of grease, and all that saturated fat just turns me off.

  6. KimberlyNo Gravatar says:

    Jason, I was dealing mostly with chronic, obese folks. You bet they were force feeding!! They’d do an all out super binge. For slightly overweight folks and folks at their ideal weight, there would be no comparison. It wouldn’t be about their physical needs, it’s like being an alcoholic and having a free day to drink. It wouldn’t be easy for them to do just one meal though. They often have an ‘all or nothing’ mentality. They are either eating ‘on’ their diet or they are totally and completely ‘off.’ They gorge themselves into being sick. It wouldn’t be so much as having foods they love, though that’s a small part of it, it’s about the quantity of the foods.
    Personally, I can have a cheat day. In fact birthdays are cheat days. But I know it’s one day and I’m going to be back to eating healthy the next. But I rarely have a cheat day. Cheat meals are less guilt-laden for my pysche. :)

    These are some of the subjects I talk about in my own blog. Click on my name above to find out what the URI is. It’s not showing up in the bodies of my posts.

  7. Too funny! Never thought about it like this! I call it cheat day as well, but it is actually cheat meal, because I would only have a pizza, or an indian meal, etc. But I guess as Kimberley said, for an obese person would be different. They would try and eat as much as they can!

    Really good post!

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