Cheat days are stupid. Have you ever followed the exercise and eat rabbit food for 6 days a week and then have a cheat day routine? I have. I followed that routine religiously for years. What a load of crap. Most of us are not fitness models, bodybuilders or extreme athletes. We are lovely people who have lives filled with family and friends that don’t just come around on our cheat days. So why do we choose to be miserable 85% of the week and then go completely nuts and “cheat” when the weekend comes around? When I was living this routine, 5 days out of the week I’d rigidly adhere to my diet and exercise program with militaristic like discipline. I’d workout hard, eat super clean and casually duck invitations to weekday dinner parties and happy hours. Once the weekend would roll around, I’d break the routine and embark on 2 solid days of pure gluttony and fun. I would scarf down potato chips, pizza, burgers, alcohol, chocolate, even stuff I normally don’t like! I would stay out late, wouldn’t get enough rest and didn’t drink enough water all because I was allowed to cheat. Cheat days allowed me to justify bingeing on anything. Cheat days are really fun, there’s no question about that, but when Monday would come around, I’d feel really bad about myself, both physically and emotionally. I’d be full of regret and tortuously revisit all the things I ate and drank and silently berate myself for it. After a weekend of gluttony and partying, the prior week of hard work had gone to crap; I was bloated and had to start all over again. To me, balance was missing. None of this made sense. I worked hard during the week, had a fun weekend and then would hate myself for it. Notice anything wrong here?
I’ll say it again, cheat days are stupid. This method is not healthy for the mind or the body. The back and forth cycle of extreme behavior wreak havoc on the system and the results of a “cheat day” routine are just not worth it, in my opinion. What do I do now? Oddly, I learned about balance in a place that most think is as extreme as can be. New Orleans is one of my favorite cities in the world. When I first visited the Big Easy, I like many other tourists, was under the impression that this was the place to get wild. You can drink on the streets, listen to jazz musicians on every corner and oh my word is the food is delicious. It was only during my later visits and through meeting the charming locals that I learned that the city and the people are not about indulging at all. Locals scoff at the irresponsible drinking and gluttony that is so common amongst tourists. Locals have a very different style of living. Rather than binge eating and drinking on the weekends, they choose to enjoy whatever they want whenever they want…but they never ever lose control. Whether it’s eating a huge po’ boy sandwich at Parasol’s for lunch on Tuesday to having a Cajun Bloody Mary or two on a cold Sunday morning, the people of New Orleans know how to have a little fun every single day their lives.
The idea of deprivation followed by overindulgence doesn’t make sense to a typical resident of New Orleans. It’s all about finding fun within a moderate balance, keeping you emotionally and physically in control. For me, this was the epiphany I was looking for and once I changed my habits to mimic this, I found a new, sustainable balance. If I am craving chocolate on a random Wednesday night, I am having some chocolate. I am not going to have 5 chocolate chip cookies, but enjoying 1 or 2 is all good in my book. I noticed that my weekends became more fun and more balanced because I wasn’t ravenously craving the need to cheat, but instead I was making conscious and smart decisions on what to eat based on how my body felt. I also started easing up on my weekday workouts. If I missed a workout during the week, no big deal, I’d go for a long run on Saturday (something I never did before). I no longer felt the emotional roller coaster on Monday morning, but rather strangely, I was happy…on Monday. If you are struggling with maintaining strict discipline during the week and then throwing it all to the wind on cheat day, try to spread everything out. Have some dessert on Monday night if you feel like it. Grab drinks with friends on a Wednesday. The idea is simply to have fun and look forward to something everyday, instead of only looking forward to your cheat day. You will slowly stop bingeing and prevent the mayhem it can have on your system. If this is making no sense to you, book a trip to New Orleans immediately and talk to a few locals. It’ll all make sense as you chat (guilt free) over some fresh gulf oysters and a cold Abita.
To looking forward to every day, PartyGirlFit Party Smart. Sweat Smarter.