What are the immediate things that come to mind when talking about a Cheat Day? Take a short cut? Look at the cheat codes? That doesn’t involve a whole day though. Cheating is taking a dishonest advantage. You find a way around the rules to best an opponent. You find the answers to the test. The purpose of cheating is to give yourself a leg up on the competition, to make yourself superior without the requirement of working in the weeds first. To take a short cut. To eliminate something distasteful and still get the full reward.
OK, if you’re like most people I know, they’re taking a cheat day in a diet or exercise program. You skip a day in your training program. You have Pancakes for breakfast…lots of pancakes:
But here’s the thing–How does cheating work to your advantage in those cases? If you cheat on your exercise program, then restart the next week, you hurt more! If you’ve cheated more than once, is it harder to go back to the exercise each time? If you know you’re going to be in pain for about 3 days after you resume, are you more apt to give up your program?
What if you’re like me and “cheat” by eating 1 chocolate chip cookie. That’s not cheating…that’s not even noticeable! How can a 2-ounce cookie make that big of a difference? Well, a steady loss program based on a torturous calorie limit and extensive exercise netted a loss of 1 pound in 1 month. 1 cookie (2 ounces!) gained 1 1/2 pounds back. It was the only aberration to the plan. I didn’t go out and have 12 pancakes, 3 large pizzas, and a table full of sushi like Dwayne does on a regular basis. Did you know he eats 6K calories every day and works out twice a day and can bench press 425 pounds? His entire job is working out. Mine isn’t.
The thing about Cheat Days is that these serve No Benefit. They derail you from your plan. They nullify all your hard work. If you’ve read any of my rants about weight control, you know that I follow a very strict diet of 1200-1500 calories in a day. I walk 1/4-1/2 a mile which is just stupid because I should be walking at least 5 miles per day. At least I’m moving. But what do I see as a result? Instead of being FAT and UNHAPPY, I am now FAT, and SORE, and SHORT-TEMPERED, and CONSTANTLY HUNGRY, and UNHAPPY. Cheating is supposed to give you an unfair advantage. Cheating on your diet and exercise gives you an unfair DISadvantage. You have to make up for the extra calories you consume. You have to be sore for another 3 days because you didn’t put in the time today. It’s short-term thinking: I get what I feel like I want today. Of course I have to start over tomorrow 1/2 pound heavier because I only walked 1049 steps all day and had 1 cookie. That’s not cheating, that’s failing.