Why I Hate “Cheat” Days

You know what phrase I actually hate? “Cheat Day.”

Why?

Because “cheating” connotes bad behavior. Cheating says to me that you’re doing something you shouldn’t be doing. Cheating implies that the food that you’re eating is bad and wrong and you should have to rationalize when you allow yourself to have it.

That’s messed up.

Or at least it is from a “I want to eat healthy and look fit but maintain a healthy relationship with food” perspective.

It’s a real struggle to meal plan every week, prep healthy lunches for work, count macros and ensure that my body is getting enough protein, fat and carbs to fuel my workouts (and my life). It’s also a struggle when I’ve eaten the same thing for lunch for three weeks and dinners have consisted of salads and chicken. Or salads and turkey burgers. Or X meat + Y vegetable… and all I’m looking for is a little pleasure in the food I’m eating.
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In order to make sure I don’t start hating food, or seeing it merely as a tool, I make room for those “bad” things. Like this weekend – my boyfriend has worked for nearly a month straight, we’ve had little time together in the evenings after the gym before we both collapse with exhaustion, and every weekend has been busy, between travel, work and other commitments. We both needed a break.

Rather, first we needed sleep. Then we needed a break.

Breakfast of Champions

Breakfast of Champions

So, Saturday was an unplanned rest day. No alarms. Slept until 10:30. Woke up, got donuts, toodled around running some errands and doing a little shopping, picked up some used books, and then had an amazing date night on the waterfront in Old Town Alexandria. And THEN we got ice cream.

Not once throughout the day did I think “oh man, I feel so gross.” Or “I should have worked out today” – because I know that 1. I work hard enough every other day that one (or two) days off in a row is necessary. 2. My body has been so tired for the past week that my workouts have been lackluster at best. I’d rather be rested and healthy in the gym than tired and dragging. 3. I really like donuts and ice cream and my boyfriend, and enjoying those things together just made my soul feel lighter.

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I love this guy. I love him even more than I love donuts and ice cream.

Basically, what I’m saying is that 80% of the time, my diet is very much dialed in to my fitness goals. But 20% of the time, my diet looks different, but still dialed in to those goals. Because ultimately, I know I can’t achieve the gainz or the pr’s I want if I’m not feeling my best and I’m not happy. Stress and fatigue are killers. And a disordered relationship with food only exacerbates those things.

So, yes. This weekend, we were off the meal plan wagon. But do I feel like I cheated? Not even a little bit. Taking care of your body also means taking care of your whole self – and my whole self feels a lot better after a weekend away from schedules and details and obligations and plans.

9 thoughts on “Why I Hate “Cheat” Days

  1. Y’all are so cute (just needed to say that). And second of all, hear, hear! Although my poor decisions seem to seep more and more into daily living which is my bad (but not cheating – rather not correctly planning).

    • I find that I can plan all I want (and be very successful at it), but there are some days that I just need to not. Do I feel the tiniest bit like I backslid this weekend? Maybe. Am I all that concerned about it? No way. So much of all of this nonsense is finding balance and what works for our individual lives. It’s hard. carrying the guilt around is hard, too. So, I just try really hard not to do that thing, and I feel a lot better – and it’s easier to get back on track afterwards, because I’m not putting so much pressure on myself. 🙂

  2. I love this post. I hate that term too but I’ve been guilty of using it before. I try to eat healthy most of the time but sometimes I’m too busy to make a meal or I just feel like a treat. Calling it a cheat day is exactly what you described- it sounds like you’re doing something wrong. I’d prefer to go with an “everything in moderation” goal.

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