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Cheat Days? Pros? Cons? Advice?

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Old 02-26-2007, 04:27 PM   #1
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Default Cheat Days? Pros? Cons? Advice?

Hi everyone!

I'm just wondering who here has a cheat day every week -- one where you allow yourself to go off plan.

The last two weeks I've been allowing myself a cheat "meal" -- just one -- where I can go off plan, and I was SO SCARED to do it. My body seems to be okay with it, though, because I lost 2 pounds the first week, and 1 pound this week.

I know that a lot of the research now supports having a day off plan, kind of "shocking" your metabolism, so to speak. My doctor this morning even mentioned that I should be eating well "6 days a week".

I'm SCARED of giving myself a whole day, and I was scared enough giving myself one meal. I don't even eat EVERYTHING that I want at that one meal, it's just not totally on plan food, KWIM? For example, the first week BF and I went for pizza... well, it was thin crust pizza, and I didn't have dessert or beer. Normally those things would have been DEFINITELY on my menu!

Any pros or cons of giving yourself a cheat day? Should I do a whole day, one meal, or not at all? Anyone have any advice, stories to share? Anything would be GREATLY appreciated, as I am feeling very conflicted about this.

TIA!!!!!!
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Old 02-26-2007, 04:31 PM   #2
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i don't really "give" myself a cheat day. I will say on that note however, i do cheat at least once a week. I really am trying to learn a new lifestyle, a new way of eating/thinking that will last me the rest of my life. I tried this last year and eventually gained it back because my "cheat" days started to get more and more frequent until i was back to where i started. I'm not perfect and still need somethings occasionally but i do it in moderation..and don't plan to cheat. For me...it sets me up for failure. But others may find it works for them. I personally am trying to focus on how good i feel when i'm eating well and exercising lots. Ant using that as my motivation to say NO to the chocolate and chips etc. Good luck!
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Old 02-26-2007, 04:38 PM   #3
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If it's part of your plan, it isn't cheating is it? My problem with thinking of a food plan in terms of a "cheat" day is reinforcing the idea that sometimes you're being "good" and sometimes, even if you're allowing yourself to be, you're being "bad."

The scale will tell you if your food plan is working for you (not by one single weigh in, but over time), and that includes whether one day of less strict food monitoring is working for you. I think relaxing your food plan, once in a while - you and the scale deciding how often and to what degree, it is needed, (without thinking of it as cheating) makes long term weight loss more doable and therefore more successful.
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Old 02-26-2007, 04:39 PM   #4
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I think that a "cheat day" or a "cheat time" varies with individuals. I'm doing South Beach, but I do a two day strict & one day not-so-strict. It works for me, and I don't go overboard when I cheat. I 'plan' the cheat, too, so I know exactly what I'm going to have & when. I think it helps me to not feel deprived, so I don't go crazy & eat everything in sight. Ya know?
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Old 02-26-2007, 04:39 PM   #5
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I've just started mixing up my daily calorie intake. I aim for 10,000 a week but I have one day when I have about 1800. I eat breakfast and lunch normally but I have what I want for tea (within reason) or a good tea but then a big treat. I don't take the whole day off.

I've only done it for 2 weeks but I've lost 4.8 lbs in that time so it seems to be working OK. I was nervous when I first did it but I've found that having something to look forward to makes it seem less like a diet and more just normal life which is what it's about I reckon. Personally I wouldn't take the whole day off because if I had the freedom to eat what I wanted I could easily consume 2 days' calories.
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Old 02-26-2007, 04:47 PM   #6
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Personally, I'd give myself a cheat meal. A whole day would likely turn into a binge day for me, and it would probably cancel out the weight loss I'd done during the week. Maybe try doing a cheat meal and cheat dessert? Then it seems like youre allowing yourself more, but it wouldnt be as scary as doing a whole day of relaxed eating. Thats what has worked for me!
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Old 02-26-2007, 05:17 PM   #7
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I've thought about your question a lot. Very recently I have started planning on including a certain special food each day that I really enjoy. I measure the amount, and I make sure that it fits into my overall calorie allotment. I am very new to planning out my day of food. I also am now in my second month of using FITDAY which is helping me a great deal.

I planned yesterday and today around having a very small piece of my homemade cherry pie with dinner. I have the pie, enjoy it IMMENSELY and am satified that I got to eat something that the family ate and enjoyed. By planning the pie into my overall food plan, I am satisfied and haven't felt the need to binge. Measuring helps a lot, too, to keep me honest with myself.

I like this technique because it allows me to work a certain food into my daily diet just like I add each of the other foods. I'm thinking that this allows me to practice a habit that will help me continue on my weight loss without me feeling as though I am missing out on special foods.

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Old 02-26-2007, 05:27 PM   #8
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Personally, I don't like the concept of "cheating."

If I'm going out to eat or if there's a party, I plan for it. I think about what I'm going to eat and how much, and I adjust my intake for the rest of the day to try to fit around it. Or, if I want a special treat, like real ice cream, I work it in with the other things I'm eating that day and make adjustments. It doesn't always work, and sometimes I go over what I had planned, but at least I know what I'm doing. I track it all.

I was once using a diet plan that allowed one meal a week of whatever you wanted, as much as you wanted--and that one meal would stall my weight loss for the rest of the week. It just wasn't right for me.

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Old 02-26-2007, 05:29 PM   #9
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Wow, thanks for all the great advice and insight. I'm still confused, but it's really awesome hearing everyone's input! Keep 'em coming!
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Old 02-26-2007, 05:40 PM   #10
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Now that I am maintaining my weight loss, I allow myself one dinner a week (not any set schedule) where I am more free with what I order. It is a treat MEAL and not a treat day. I usually go out to a nice restaurant with friends, I drink a glass of wine, I have cream in my afterdinner coffee, I split dessert with friends (the fudgier the better). I still take care when ordering my entree, I no longer eat fried foods or a ton of cheese (just doesn't agree with me) or anything with a cream-based sauce. I still try avoid the chip basket at Mexican places and the bread basket at other restaurants - just habits I don't want to pick back up. My favorite things to order are grilled/blackened salmon or ahi - delicious and healthy.

This is for the rest of my life, so I needed a plan I maintain forever. A lovely night once a week in a restaurant definitely works for me, life is too short to do without desserts like molten lava cake. I like the fact that I can have a great meal out and enjoy good company and good food while still basically sticking with my healthier way of eating. A restaurant setting works for me - I don't like seeming "piggy" in front of other people, so it keeps me honest while sharing a dessert. The food is also "finite" (unlike a big tub of ice cream at home). I never take home leftovers from my treat night (no matter how good it is), it is a one-time event and then immediately back on plan.

When I was actually losing weight, I had 2 treat meals - my birthday dinner and Christmas dinner.
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Old 02-26-2007, 05:50 PM   #11
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I also don't like to think of splurging as "cheating." Who am I cheating? Not my body -- it knows!

That said, I do try to work in times when I eat different foods ... sometimes a meal at an Indian restaurant, sometimes a dessert, etc. Usually, I record these days along with all the others. I rarely have times when I just eat away. I don't think I want to go back to my old habits, but I try to be aware of what i'm eating, even when I'm splurging. I do think it's important not to let yourself feel guilty about it!

This is for life, and sometimes life, for me is pizza or some other goodie. I just don't think of it as "cheating" As for frequency, sometimes it seems like I don't do it often, other times, it's more than once a week, depending on what's going on in my life.

I guess I'm trying to find the balance. It's hard, but I keep trying.
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Old 02-26-2007, 05:59 PM   #12
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I never cheat. What I allow myself to eat is part of my plan and I count it in with my calories. If I want one of my "sinful" treats, then I have it. I never consider it cheating. I'm in this for life and I don't think the cheating mentality is a good one. At least not for me.
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Old 02-26-2007, 06:21 PM   #13
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I also don't go by the "cheat" theory. I am in this for life and it would be next to impossible to go through life without some pasta or bread or cake. So every now and then I will allow myself to eat those and similar items. Holidays, birthdays and what not. I don't look at it as a cheat, but as PART of the plan. Right now I am so focused on losing the rest of my weight, I don't have much interest in that kind of stuff. I have had a few bites of cake at social events in the past. But only after carefully planning for it a week in advance as well the day of the event. Hopefully, when I finally get to goal, I could ease up just a bit, a tiny bit that is and allow myself a few more indulgences throughout the course of the year.

But if it works for you, more power to ya. I firmly believe there is no one right way to do this. We've all gotta figure out what works best for ourselves.
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Old 02-26-2007, 06:38 PM   #14
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I do go with a cheat day, but it's usually only about one meal and snacks later on. I try to only do it after I have my weigh-in from Weight Watchers. Then, the next day, I start all over again. After awhile though, you don't want all the junk and your cheat days really aren't cheat days anymore, just little treats.
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Old 02-26-2007, 06:38 PM   #15
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Agreed. I don't cheat. I eat really well regularly, and sometimes I drink too much wine or I eat something I normally wouldn't. The word cheat reminds me of the word diet, which is why I got fat in the first place.
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