Cheat days keep you going when the going gets tough. If you are in the midst of a healthy eating plan then you know the importance and necessity of a cheat day. Just knowing that you don’t have to completely cut out things you love from your diet can make a huge difference with sticking to a healthy eating and exercise plan. A cheat day for exercise isn’t really a cheat day more of a rest day which you should have scheduled in your program for 1-2 times per week anyway to allow your body to recover.

The Pros to Cheat Days

Dieting is more than a fridge full of healthy foods and an intense workout regimen. Dieting is a mental game that can push us to our limits. Without positive reinforcement it is easy to get discouraged and give up.

The occasional cheat day helps you unwind and clear your head of the pressures that come with strict dieting. They also allow you to indulge in the foods & drinks you love (in moderation), just because you are eating healthier doesn’t mean you have to deny yourself the things you absolutely love, again it’s all about moderation. If you didn’t get a cheat day the likelihood of sticking to a strict eating plan would be very low. Knowing you have that one day means that you don’t feel guilty for indulging and will be more likely to continue eating healthy on all the other days.

The Cons to Cheat Days

When cheat day comes around many of us take it to a whole new level. It starts out as typical day with a bigger than normal breakfast, maybe we splurge on our favorite coffee drink, and all of a sudden we are arm deep in a bag of chocolate covered pretzels.

The problem is the misconception of cheat day. Yes, it is a day to cheat on your dieting, but it is not a day to throw every inhibition to the wind. Dieters who view cheat days as an opportunity to indulge in a few of their favorite comfort foods see more positive results than the dieters who view cheat days as a no holds barred day where nothing is off limits. It’s all about moderation, yes you can have that chocolate biscuit but not the whole packet.

How to Have a Successful Cheat Day

There are a few key factors to having a successful, guilt free cheat day.

  • Don’t forget your fruits and veggies!

    Just because it’s cheat day doesn’t mean every meal should consist of processed foods. Try to incorporate some fresh foods throughout the day to fuel your body. Even if it is a cheat day try to still make healthy choices wherever possible be it with the other meals or drinks throughout the day. There are ways to incorporate healthy fruits and vegetables into cheat day meals – for example say you want pancakes with maple syrup for breakfast, why not add a banana with it or even some blueberries etc. or why not make the pancakes using bananas.

  • Stick with water.

    Drinking water has countless health benefits. A few of which include clear skin complexion, weight loss, increase in energy levels, and digestive aid. Always make water your beverage of choice, cheat day or not! Yes you can indulge in other drinks but still drink water throughout the day.

  • Work when you can.

    It’s cheat day and you should not – and do not – need to hit the gym. Enjoy a day of rest, but try to incorporate mild exercise when possible. Walk instead of driving, take the stairs, hop on your bike for a joy ride, or go dancing!

Have fun!

The best part about cheat day is the lack of structure and rules. Take a welcomed break from keeping track of meals and hitting the gym. You’ve earned it!

Micah Larsen

Micah is a traveling swim coach and personal trainer, depending on the season. She is also currently working on her Master of Science in Athletic Administration and Coaching. Micah loves to live an active lifestyle, whether she is competing in open water swims, running a road race, practicing yoga, or biking with her dogs. The main objective in her career is to... Read More

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