Isn’t so much of the battle in weight loss mental?
Sometimes the way we frame behaviors can make all the difference. Weeks ago, I wrote about the pros and cons of taking time away from a diet plan, for the sake of recharging your mind and your motivation. I pointed out that, if you feel confident and strong in your ability to hop back on the ol’ wagon after the days off, a diet break may actually help your weight loss. Today, I’d love to talk about something along the same lines, something that’s often met with controversy. And that is: cheat days.
I define a cheat day as a day where you allow yourself to eat any food in any quantity you desire. They are meant to give you a break from the stress and perceived monotony of dieting. In my post about diet breaks, I discussed the occasional few days I’d take off to eat normally while I was losing weight. Often, these days were ones that involved a vacation with friends, a holiday, or something of the sort. I didn’t, however, call any of those days “cheat days.” There are a number of reasons why I, personally, feel uncomfortable when I hear the word “cheat” in relation to eating. The first of which is that the word seems to me to be synonymous with bingeing- a practice I don’t want to engage in [any longer] nor encourage. The second reason I don’t quite feel comfortable with the word “cheating” is that I don’t like the implication of restriction during non-cheating times.
It may just be semantics, but these are important distinctions to make. The way I got to 268 pounds was by eating recklessly and destructively, so when I embarked on a path to lose that weight, cheating meant a return to recklessness. It meant more than a simple slip. I knew from experience how impossible it felt to pull myself out of the tail spin of binge eating.
Nowadays, I stay away from black and white thinking. Cheating, bingeing, restricting- they’re all so severe. None exists without the other. What I aim for is an overall, everyday contentment with what I’m eating. If that means a small daily dessert, so be it. Everyday is a holiday :)
It’s important to note here that my struggle is not everyone’s struggle. Some of us believe in cheat days, and maybe they serve us well. I’d love to hear from you. What do you think of the concept of cheat days? Have you been able to successfully incorporate them into your life?