Musings on cheat days

John and I are out all day for a loooooong bike ride.  So, to keep you entertained, I thought I would break out a old post on my thoughts on cheat days.  I’ll be back on Sunday with a recap of the big ride 😀


Musings on ‘cheat’ days

I don’t know if there is a term I care for less in the weight loss world than ‘cheat day’. The name alone is a totally negative term.

First, the word ‘cheat’ is defined by Websters as:

1: to deprive of something valuable by the use of deceit or fraud
2: to influence or lead by deceit, trick, or artifice
3: to elude or thwart by or as if by outwitting
1 a: to practice fraud or trickery b: to violate rules dishonestly

Do any of these definitions sound like something you want to apply to your life? No one is perfect, and no one eats totally on plan all the time (I certainly don’t). But I don’t consider it ‘cheating’ when I go off plan. And sometimes those off plan foods are actually planned in. Then I have control over them.

Cheating also implies that the way you are eating is not something you can sustain for a lifetime. If you view your eating plan as so rigid and uncompromising that you cannot have some of your favorites – then how can you possibly expect to succeed in maintaining your weight loss (let alone getting to goal)?

I think it would be better to call it a choice rather than a cheat. There are too many negative feelings and associations with cheating: guilt, remorse, self loathing, the feeling of lack of control.

If you make a choice, then you are fully aware ahead of time as to the consequences of your actions. You can say,  “I am choosing to have this piece of cheesecake. It will not cause me to go off plan, it is not a license to abandon the rest of the day (eating wise), and I can get right back on my normal plan with the next meal.”
That can eliminate the guilt, because if you are going to have something – why not truly enjoy it without the guilt?

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13 thoughts on “Musings on cheat days

  1. Lisa

    I have a hard time with “cheat days.” I feel like it’s a set up for disaster. So many people have 1 cheat day a week and go NUTS with food. They undo EVERYTHING they worked hard for all week. I’m more of a 90/10 Rule person. 90% of the time I eat well and splurge 10% of the time. But that 10% isn’t an entire day. It’s a nice, splurging dinner once a week. Or have dessert one time.
    .-= Lisa´s last blog ..Weekend Report Card =-.

  2. Tish

    Remember when WW used to use the term “legal,” as in “legal foods?” It’s the same sort of concept. They’ve entirely changed that now to where anything is okay as long as you work it in to your points. I like to think of it as OP, “on plan.” Sometimes I’ll plan for an “extra” something, but mostly my plan involves the good things I know are healthy for me. I don’t like to see myself as a “cheater,” either, even if I’m off plan for a bit. Hope you’re having a great ride. DH & are are taking advantage of the long day and heading out for our ride in about half an hour.
    .-= Tish´s last blog ..Anniversary Edition =-.

  3. cammy@TippyToeDiet

    Oh, my sister! Preach it! Preach IT! 🙂

    As you know, I prefer to think of this whole notion of once-in-a-while foods as “splurges”. It just has such a luxurious sound to it, something that would diminish in value if we had too much of it.

    I’ll leave cheating for adulterous spouses and baseball players.
    .-= cammy@TippyToeDiet´s last blog ..Blogger Meet-up and A Book Rec =-.

  4. Amy

    I always hated the idea of “cheat day” – because for me the big risk was cheat day turning into cheat weekend or cheat week or – gasp! – cheat month! I agree with you – it is way too negative. I still have a tough time on weekends but try to keep my framework healthy as in the week and for the rest not beat myself up too much about it. Life’s too short!
    .-= Amy´s last blog ..Fit Friday & Go USA! =-.

  5. Jennifer

    I totally agree! Every day is an “Eating Day” and some days, I eat less than others. I do WW, so I count points, and somedays, I LAUGH at the number of points I eat, but overall I see the change I have made. Life is full of highs and lows!
    .-= Jennifer´s last blog ..First meal in Mexico =-.

  6. Sheryl

    I like Lisa’s idea of 90% good and 10% splurge. I think having the occasional splurge is good to keep you motivated to keep going, if you feel you are being deprived 100% of everything you love then it is too easy to just give up.
    .-= Sheryl´s last blog ..Boiled Egg With Soldier Toast =-.

  7. Susan (All Things In Moderation)

    I love this post! I never really thought of it as “choice” rather than “cheat”! Making maintenance sustainable is really important to me. I always, ALWAYS have dessert after dinner, because what is life without a little sweetness?

  8. Dawn

    I’ve always called it a “treat day” instead of a “cheat day”. I feel exactly like you do about it all. We can’t live our lives so ridgid and we are making choices not cheating. Good post Lori.
    .-= Dawn´s last blog ..Heading to the mountains =-.

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