Why We Stand Against Cheat Days (and what you can do instead)
You see it on social media all the time. Or maybe you see it with people in your inner circle. “Here’s my cheat meal,” or “today’s my cheat day.” And if this works for people to use this strategy to find fulfillment while working towards goals, go them!
Perhaps you have fallen victim to the “cheat day.” You eat “perfectly” Sunday through Friday, and then when you wake up on Saturday, you’re like a kid on Christmas morning. Anything goes!
But as Saturday evening closes in, a panicked feeling sets in. Tomorrow is back to “the plan.” Back to eating perfectly. It can be stressful. It can lead to binge eating behaviors that are detrimental not only to your plan, but also your body and mental health. It can lead to feelings of regret, sadness, and stress.
So this is why we have banned cheat days.
Cheat days create a sort of scarcity mindset. We feel stressed, greedy, and anxious. We let this mindset hold power over us. We allow ourselves to enter this cycle of perfection, mistakes, defeat, repeat.
What if we took that scarcity mindset and flipped it over into an abundance mindset?
You don’t need to cheat. It’s that simple. There’s nothing and no one to “cheat on.” We all have goals, but we are also humans who not only need food but also to enjoy it.
Maybe it’s a Wednesday evening and you want to eat a special dessert. Or perhaps you don’t want a special treat because you already feel satisfied from your meal. Either is a choice you can make.
When and what you eat is up to you and depends on your hunger cues. It doesn’t matter if it’s a weekday, a weekend, or a holiday even. You can still follow some type of plan if that makes sense for you and your goals, yet you can still find enjoyment in what you consume.
Please don’t play mind games with yourself. Own your choices. You don’t have to barter with yourself, moralize your choices, or rationalize your behaviors. But remember that different decisions and actions will produce different outcomes. And if you have a day where you overeat or go off the plan, tomorrow is a fresh start to try again.
A Few Takeaways
So now what? Perhaps you have acknowledged that cheat days or cheat meals aren’t serving you well. What can you do?
Aim for “good enough” instead of perfect
Give up the cheat days
Own your decisions
Let go of your self-imposed “food rules”
If you are ready to stop the cheat days and learn how to utilize habit-building to reach your health and fitness goals, check out our Habit Academy program.
We focus on 1-2 new habits every week to build sustainable progress and better results than doing everything at once. You will get access to our weekly courses, messaging with a coach through our app, weekly coaching calls, and accountability messages. Learn more here.
If compulsion or urgency occur when you eat/overeat, please speak with your doctor about binge-eating disorder.
Jessica Corkin is the Virtual Fitness Manager at Begin Within. She holds a Master’s Degree in Exercise Science and has spent the last nine years working in the fitness and wellness industry. When she is not virtually training clients, she enjoys strength training, running, being outdoors, and spending quality time with her husband and dog. Connect with her here.