Friday, October 14, 2011

Cheat Days- Good idea or Bad idea?

Every dieter knows about the CHEAT DAY.  In case you are one of the lucky people who stumbled across my blog even though you have never had issues with your weight (jealous of... er, happy for you!), here is a simple definition:

A cheat day is a regularly scheduled day that you eat more than usual, or you eat things that you don't normally eat on your diet.  You either keep on tracking (if your diet requires tracking), but ignore the high numbers, or you skip tracking completely.

That's my definition, anyway.

I have had one version or another of a cheat day for nearly my entire weight loss journey.  Because I'm back on Weight Watchers now, I'll tell you about my WW "cheat" days.

Saturday is my weigh-in day, but it's also my "cheat" day.  I put cheat in quotes because I still track, I just use most of my weeklies + my dailies + some APs (often in advance from actually earning them).  Since tracking on MFP,  I've noticed that this day can be up to 3000 calories sometimes!!!  Usually between 50-75 PointsPlus get consumed on any given Saturday.

I wonder if J-Hud has a cheat day?
The rest of the week, I tried to stick to my dailies and to have some leftover points at the end of the week... it almost NEVER happened.  I would eat all dailies, all weeklies, and all earned AP (sometimes this can be as many as 50) nearly every week.

...and that's on weeks that I'm perfect with my tracking.  Who knows how much I honestly eat when I'm not so perfect?

Anyway, this worked very well for me for a looooooooooong time.  Somehow I was able to go straight from my cheat day to more moderate portions the rest of the week, no problem.

Some time in the last couple of months, I've lost that skill.

Now, it takes me until Wednesday to recover from Saturday's overeating.  As in, I overeat on Saturday, feel deprived and hungry on Sunday, give in to some more overeating on Monday and Tuesday, and am finally back on track by Wednesday... and then it starts over every Saturday.

Now that I've read what I wrote right there.... I can see why I've been slowly gaining some weight. 

Here is a picture that I took of myself before I joined MFP (right around the time that I quit Weight Watchers Online, back in June or July.  At this point, I wanted to lose about 10 more pounds. 

I took a picture of myself in the exact same outfit last night, and I have visibly gained weight in my stomach and hips.  This cheating has to stop!  I will upload and post the pic from last night later, so that you can see what I am talking about.  For now, I will be using this picture as motivation to get my dedication back!

I've finally accepted that although my cheat day worked for me for years, it is time to give it up and to start eating right EVERY day.

This is not to say that I'm going to deprive myself.  I still believe in everything in moderation.

How I'm going to handle this with Weight Watchers?  I will be spreading my weekly and activity points out over the week.  I may still eat a few more on the weekends than through the week, but I will be trying very hard to not have any more 50-75 PointsPlus days, and I will be focusing on the GHGs 7/7 days instead of 5/7. 

You CAN follow Weight Watchers with a cheat day, and you CAN lose weight while doing it.  It's when the cheat day because a cheat week that you will run into problems!

Wish me luck for my first no-cheat-day weekend, I will need it.  :-)

Today is day 5/21 of the No Junk Food Challenge, and I'm going strong.

Do you have a regular cheat day?  Does it work for you?


Leanne said...

I don't really like calling my hungry days "cheat days" because it feels like I am doing something wrong, and I'm not really. I still track on those days, but I don't schedule them. Some days I am just honestly more hungry than others, so I eat more. I feel like scheduling them would cause me to overeat on principal (note: I'm really bad at talking myself out of eating something, even if I'm not hungry). I just go by how my body feels and what it tells me it wants (unless it says it wants potato chips, which I then assume that it's lying). This is a great post, thanks for the honesty. Oh, and by the way, you look INCREDIBLE! Be proud of what you have accomplished, losing weight isn't easy. :-)

Rae said...

There was a time when I used to do "cheat days" on the weekends. I have done away with those now and find I am much more successful without them. They led me to be too lax at times or to have an all or nothing attitude.

Now I simply moderate things day to day, instead of waiting for a cheat day to eat everything. For me having a cheat day signified me being on a diet rather than making a lifestyle change. It is one of those things that works for some and not for others. Personally it doesn't work for me.

Tri Chic ~ Jury said...

I love this post, thanks for sharing. I like to have a cheat meal once a week or so vs a cheat day, I think a whole day is a dangerous path for me. I've yet to use my weekly points in a day, I like to spread them out during the week and use them when I really feel the hunger :) HOWEVER, I've declared my upcoming birthday a cheat day. I want wine, creamy soup and lots of wine. hehe

Katy said...

I don't think it really works for me because I get out of control. Sometimes it's just better for me to not have something. I hate that because I think you are right, any food you want should be able to be enjoyed in moderation. I just don't have much luck with it. I just started the Eat to Live program yesterday to detox my body and get me back on track b/c I have been struggling since July.

Megan said...

I didn't really have a cheat day, usually my weekends weren't strictly tracked though and I know that slowed down my weight loss.

Cyn said...

i do have a *cheat day* which is typically saturday as well & i allow myself dinner out & some wine. i always dip into weeklies but never too-too extreme. so i think there is nothing wrong with a cheat day but maybe just allowing yourself a special meal and/or drinks? but that is just me...
couple of weeks ago we went out for mexican & shared a 22 oz margartia that was soooo goodl, good thing we shared -- that suckah was 25 pts! plus the other 20 or so for din-din. certainly easy to let *cheat day* be *anything goes* day.... lol!

Jennifer said...

"I wonder if J-Hud has a cheat day?" this made me giggle. That's one thing I struggle with--these "poster childs" or whatever for weight loss... a lot of their WLJ is unshared. I want REALITY.

I don't like calling it a "cheat day" because then it makes it feel like a diet. But I suppose we should call it what it is... I try to eat and track well all week, so I can relax a little on weekends. I don't really consider it cheating or bad if it's planned for and, as you noted, it's just a day or two and not a week. :)

Anonymous said...

I don't have a "cheat day" but I am more relaxed on the weekend which has been sort of my downfall lately

Anonymous said...

I'm glad I found this, and that I'm not the only one who does a "cheat" day! Mine also is usually my weigh in day, ore the day after. The only difference is I only allow my self a small window to do this. Say my cheat day is Saturday, I wake up and eat what I normally would when tracking, same thing for my morning snack. Then I allow myself to enjoy a cheat meal OUTSIDE OF THE HOUSE! So while I am not tracking for the whole day, I never bring the cheat foods into my home. The next morning I go RIGHT BACK to tracking and sticking to my points plus target. I have continued to lose weight and am down 29 lbs so far. The trick is to do the cheating out of the house. My husband usually lets me pick the place, once a week, that is all. it really gives me something to look forward to, and also a nice little break from counting points for the day. Another trick is I NEVER allow myself the cheat meal or the day without tracking if I have not lost weight that week. if i stayed the same or gained, i skip the cheat!