View Full Version : Cheat Days

07-06-2006, 04:24 AM
This question is for anyone who is or has been dieting, in training or just eating healthy.

I posted in another thread that within the past year I have lost 165 pounds by dieting and exercising (and not cheating AT ALL for a full year). I am 5'11 and 43 years old and was well over 315 pounds when I began this journey. I am now 155ish pounds. My friends and family keep telling me I could stand to gain some weight, but I feel good in my body now and am working to tighten up some of the residual "flab" resulting from such a large weight loss. But anyway...here is my situation.

During the week I eat very clean. I am a vegetarian (but I do dairy) and I eat a lot of fresh veggies and drink a lot of water. I work out every day in some form. I do 30-40 minutes on the treadmill every morning, followed by the new love of my life, CYCLING, every afternoon or evening (depending on my schedule) and then strength training 3 times a week. Once a week I have a day that I just go nuts food wise. Now most people would think of a cheat as eating pizza or something equally fattening, but my cheats are generally just a lot more of the foods I normally eat. Like I will totally pig out on fat free cottage cheese, natural peanut butter and fat free yogurt. And I mean pig out. I will eat a whole tub of cottage cheese, and just devastate a half a jar of Natty PB. I also have this thing about Fat Free Cool Whip, so I will eat a whole tub of that (I did however have one cheat day where I actually ate Cold Stone Creamery ice cream....HEAVEN!). Well you get the picture...

So I call this my "cheat day". My friends laugh at me and say "this isn't a cheat...eat some fast food or something, THATS a cheat". But I don't crave fast food. Funny thing is when I start craving stuff, I crave oatmeal, cottage cheese, cool whip, peanut butter. And thats what I pig on. I will eat till I am bloated and stuffed and feeling blah! Then next day I get back on track (except on a few ocassions when it became a two..or once even a three day cheat).

Generally if I get on the scale I see an increase in weight after these "cheats" of anywhere from 3 to 10 pounds (which is why I have stopped getting on the scale afterwards). I realize the majority of this is water weight because I can lose it all within a week if I get back on plan strictly.

So does anyone else do this? And is there any benefit to this mentally or physically or am I just shooting myself in the foot? I have read different theories stating that cheat days help keep you motivated or help jump start your metabolism or whatever, but I don't know. I know the day after I feel bloated and disgusted with myself and feel totally "Fat", but when I am eating it I am in heaven (like I have been freed from diet jail and I can eat whatever I want!).

Any thoughts on the benefits or negative effects of cheat days? All input would be appreciated.


07-06-2006, 06:19 AM
Several years ago when I was using Weight Watchers to help me drop some extra pounds I allowed myself one day each week to some of my favorite foods. Typically this involved a trip to the local movie house and a medium size bag of popcorn with "extra" butter.

I'm back on the WW program again and once again I do allow myself some "cheating". I went home last week to spend a few days with my parents and siblings and the eatothon started the moment I walked in the door and ended when I backed my car out of their driveway. My mom fixed all my favorite foods and I just couldn't say no. Thank goodness I had taken a bike with me and could buzz about town each there I was there or the weight gain would have been more than the increase of 1.5 pounds the scales showed when I returned home.

I think you have allow yourself those cheat days. In moderation they are good for your morale and keep you working towards your goals. They only become bad when they start to occur every day and your caloric intake far exceeds the calories being burned off each day.

07-07-2006, 08:25 AM
I think if you're still in control when you "cheat," then it's a "flexibility" day. THe part I'd worry more about is the feeling fat and bad the next day - I'd try to guide the motivation to get back on track in a more positive direction (as in, this is exactly what the *plan* is... 6 days on, one day a little bit off...) If the cheating is bordering on bingeing... that's when (IMHO) it's bad.

07-07-2006, 08:37 AM
Eating something "bad" occasionally - meaning something not in your normal healthy food diet - should be OK. But it scares me when you say that you usually gain 3 to 10 pounds on what you call your cheat days. To me, that sounds like a lot of weight. It seems that eating your "cheat" food in reasonable quantities might be a better approach.

--- Denise

07-07-2006, 10:03 AM
I will agree with Denise, 3-10 lbs sounds like way too much even if it's just water. Also, I wouldn't think it's good for your liver to process so much cottage cheese which is plain protein at once. I am not sure which size of it you choose, but even the smaller once contain at least 32 grams of protein. Another thing, I think it's healthy to let yourself eat what you want one day a week, otherwise you will never be successful with a chosen diet. It's a good idea to eat in smaller portions maybe, so next day you don't feel as bad.

07-07-2006, 12:01 PM
I think my problem is I am not getting enough calories during the week which leads to a day of being ravenous. I need to work on getting the right amount for my activity level and I think this will help.

As far as the 3-10 pounds go. The 10 pounds was a one time thing and it freaked me to see it, but it was gone within a few days (this also happened to occur at the same time as that time of the month). Generally it is more in the 3 pound gain and again it is generally gone within 3 or 4 days (which is why I assume water weight).

It has been a tough battle trying to learn to "maintain" after losing so much weight. I am trying to find a balance between thinking like someone who doesn't need to lose any more and someone who doesn't want to return to the eating habits of the old days.

As far as the cottage cheese goes, when I go nuts it's generally a large size tub over the course of the day.

As I said, I think I need to just allow myself to have a treat (like Coldstone ice cream or whatever) once a week and not go hog wild, this way it's mentally a good thing and not such a body blow to my plan.

07-08-2006, 03:58 PM
Frankly, I think your cheat day is playing with fire. Especially when you said that it lasted more than one day - that would really scare me if I had worked as hard as you did to lose the weight.

I would get with a nutritionist immediately and have him/her map out a diet plan so that you are getting your correct number of calories each day.

07-08-2006, 04:34 PM
In the years when I was a pretty serious (non-pro) ballet dancer, I managed to stay on a very low calorie diet for months on end by always allowing a single Hershey bar at the end of every day. If I DIDN'T do that, I learned early on, it was like holding my breath---I would diet for, say, two weeks, and then have a MAJOR binge day. It was much more manageable to diet for a long time once I'd learned to build in a treat every day.

07-08-2006, 04:35 PM
Maybe it would help to go to Weight Watchers, you'll learn to eat enough during the week and not over indulge that one day. They can also help you with the maintenance, so you keep the weight you've lost off.

07-08-2006, 07:49 PM
Kudos to you for all the weight loss and getting in shape. Your friends and family are use to you heavier but you need to be at a weight you like. And when you start getting 'too' healthy you make them look bad ;)

I just read an article in a magazine about having cheat days. They described it just like you said. Most people try and eat healthy but allow themselves a cheat day. It helps you stay on track.

Sounds like you are doing great.

07-09-2006, 03:54 AM
Bodybuilders often have cheat days too. But, Craicgirl is describing something entirely different - where she eats until she gains weight and sometimes cannot stop at one day. Plus, there is the history of obesity to contend with. That is why I don't think a cheat day is in her best interests.

Just my $.03 (inflation you know!) ;)

07-09-2006, 07:08 AM
Yeah..I think as some of you have said, the cheat days are not a good thing for me. I think I deprieved myself for so long over the course of the past year that these cheats are now a natural response to my body needing sustainence, but I need to feed myself in a healthier way, not binge out like I have been.

I am treading on scary ground here. I don't want to get back into those old eating patterns I used to have. So I think cheat day is gonna have to go on the back burner. I have control over what I put in my mouth, I need to focus on filling up on healthy food and getting my calories where they should be and I think that will eliminate the need for the weekly pig out. I can't let myself get so hungry that I lose all rational thought and start down the slippery path to over-eating.

07-10-2006, 10:40 AM
Like I will totally pig out on fat free cottage cheese, natural peanut butter and fat free yogurt. And I mean pig out. I will eat a whole tub of cottage cheese, and just devastate a half a jar of Natty PB. I also have this thing about Fat Free Cool Whip....

Funny thing is when I start craving stuff, I crave oatmeal, cottage cheese, cool whip, peanut butter.

You're definitely shooting yourself in the leg, and I take from your replies that you have understood so much. It is especially interesting what types of food you binge - creamy stuff. Why?
As others suggested, perhaps talk to a nutritionist, and just try not to buy the stuff next time?