Just a couple of weeks a go I realised that people used their weekends as their cheat days. It is interesting for me, because Sunday has a dark food history as the day when people actually cheat. Weird right?
Rumour has it that in the end of 1800’s there’s such a law in the US which prohibit the sales of soda water on Sundays because it is a vice. Ice cream soda, which was at that time best sellers were hit hard, so businessmen had to come up with something to fix it. Here comes our favourite Ice Cream Sundae, which contains no soda. I am not sure about the 1800’s logic but Sundaes are as much as a vice as Cream Soda in my opinion… but hey I am no clergy *shrug*.
The idea that Sunday is a special day has been around since biblical times. It is time to rest, it is time to do something differently than your daily life. It is time to… you know… cheat your diet, for some people.
Personally I don’t do cheat days, but I know a lot of people do, and it is fine. There are some idea that cheat days can actually help to boost metabolism, although I haven’t yet find a credible scientific information about it. I keep it open, though, just because I haven’t found it, doesn’t mean that it isn’t out there…
The concept of cheat days feels off to me, for some reasons:
The word “Cheat”.
I mean… since when has been associated with something good? Cheat always used in conjunction with dishonesty, untrustworthy, and illegality. Why would you associate yourselves with that? Would you rather change it to “Treat Day” to make it feels less harmful, or something?
Personally I don’t like being called a cheater. It is not a nice feeling. So, I am not sure if I can go on board with the concept of regularly making myself ‘cheat’.
The reason why you need to cheat
I did cheat days on my beginning of calorie counting, I have to be honest about it. And the reason why I did it was because my weekdays meal plan sucked. It was salad after salad, and quinoa after quinoa… with lean meat or fish, and nothing was fried. There’s no crisps, or biscuits, or cake… or any snacks.
I felt I needed to cheat because I my meal plan was torturous, and THAT is non sustainable. My friends told me to “look ahead”, that “the cheat day is only 2 days away”. But… why should I endure the 2 days of torment if I can just make my meal plan better and treat myself everyday for being a good CICO girl? Right?
Cheat Day doesn’t help building the habit
For me the best thing about CICO is its sustainability. If you know how to do it right (and you definitely don’t have any hidden medical condition), CICO will give you a consistent result. But to do it, you need to be consistent too.
Counting and logging should always be there at the back of your mind. Looking at the back of the package, and make a conscious decision about it should be automatic after a while. Weighing everything before cooking them would be a second nature. And that only happens when it has become a habit to you.
The general rule is that you need 21 days to get used to a new habit, and 3 months to actually make it stick. With cheat days, you will be breaking a routine every 7th days, so how are you going to make CICO sticks?
Now… I know that life is not just like a flat line of work/study, and home. Sometimes you are going on holidays. Sometimes you want to enjoy yourselves on special days like wedding days. Sometimes… you know, you have PMS sooo bad and all you want to do is watching youtube videos all day while finishing the whole tub of ice cream.
Can I still treat myself for a special day?
Of course you can. This is the wonderful thing about CICO, that only your calorie goal is your limit. This is what you can do to make sure your special day won’t ruin your hard work.
- Try to keep the food journal. Keep logging everything, even after you’ve seen the red and feels like you are massively over… just log it, and don’t worry about the number, because there’s a way to work around it later but only if you have the number to work around.
- Remember that the weight loss is not done in a day. The next day after your special day, look at your ‘over’, and spread it across the next week meal plan or even two weeks meal plan. AHA! Not so scary now, isn’t it?
Okay I make an example: you’re invited to a wedding, and food was delicious. You estimated you are 2000cal over. So, all you need to do over the next 10 days, is to create an extra 200cal deficit. Either by taking 200cal from the budget, or add 200cal on exercise, or the combo of 100cal from budget and 100cal from exercise.
To put it into perspective a 30g (1 serving) or tangy cheese doritos is 150cal.
- And, last but not least… don’t feel bad and over compensate your special day by punishing yourself afterwards. It is counter-productive. You want to enjoy your special day. We want you to enjoy your special day. So you should just do that. You will come back the next day happier, because you know this by no means a defeat.
On my 2 weeks holiday to Indonesia, I was over every single day for 14 days. Yes I tried to log everything, but I know I missed some things because I don’t know all of the ingredients, but I did log it, and as expected the first weigh in after the holiday was laughable to say the least. But I knew that all I need to do to be back on track is to readjust my budget for a month or two… and voila…
If you see my report, there are peaks of weight gain. The first peak was after April, so I assumed it was the Easter break, the next one was after July… that’s definitely the holiday I was talking about. And the last peak was around Christmas :D. However if you see the bigger picture… 12.1 kg was dropped in that year alone.
I hope my amateur opinion is informative enough. I hope it is helpful, and I wish you the best for your journey for a healthier life.
Please let me know if there’s something I miss, or mess up. And please feel free to share your opinion about cheat days, and what you do about it. 🙂