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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Cheat meals vs. cheat days: Part I

Thank you so much for all the birthday wishes on my last post.  It was a great weekend that was filled with so much food!  Italian, Mexican, sushi, desserts, alcohol, Chinese and fast-food.   No pictures because I was too busy stuffing my face but let's just say this is the most I've eaten in a L-O-N-G time.

Don't get me wrong, I indulge in stuffing my face at least once a week - in fact, I promote having a high calorie filled meal once in a while - but this weekend was gluttony overkill and my body is hurting from it.

My goal of seeing the 120's by the end of this month are pretty shot but is it because of my one weekend of bad eating?  I think so.

With the end of January comes the end of many New Year's resolutions so it's a good time to revisit cheat meals and their place in the weight-loss journey.

Notice i said cheat MEAL, not cheat DAY (like the two days I just had).  In my opinion, there is a huge difference: one will keep you sane on this journey and the other will destroy you!  (Okay, not really destroy you, but if it helps keep the cheat days away, then yes, it will DESTROY you)!

I've touched on this subject before and as we know, weight-loss comes down to calories in vs. calories out.  A cheat meal once a week will put you over your calories for one day, but if your nutrition and exercise are on-point the other days of the week, there shouldn't be that much damage done.  For example, I've steadily lost about a pound a week since November and you better believe I take full advantage of my cheat meals (half a medium pizza... sure).

Some people might say I could have lost more than a pound a week if I didn't include the cheat meals, and that's true, but I'm comfortable with my progress so far.  It's not a race to get to my goal weight... it's about finding a balance that I can do FOR LIFE.  Including a cheat meal once a week is my way of balancing out my cravings and I believe it helps my body "recover" from a week of lower calorie days... simply put, it kinda shocks the system to keep it guessing.

On the other hand, depending on how bad your cheat days are, it can have major consequences.  Let's take a look at my birthday Sunday:

Breakfast:  pancakes, eggs, bacon, toast (839 cals)
Snack: yogurt and almonds (200 cals)
Lunch: Chinese dim sum (estimating 1000+ cals)
Snack: popcorn (300 cals)
Dinner: pizza and Mexican (1200+ cals)
Dessert: ice cream (350 cals)
TOTAL calories for the day: 3889+ calories

That's over 2300 cals just to maintain my weight... not even lose weight!  That also means all the hard work I put in to create a nice calorie deficit is washed clean within a day, setting me back another week to reaching my goals.  Totally not worth it if it wasn't my birthday.

Some tips to stay clear of cheat days:  Cheat meals vs. cheat days: Part II (coming soon).


Weight Loss Girl (Nikki) said...

I agree. I would not have kept at my weight loss without the odd nice thing here and there.

I say I have one day off a week from dieting or one cheat day but in reading your post, it is not really the whole day off that I have. Like you I tend to have one meal off, I may have pizza and popcorn with a dvd one night or a bar of chocolate or go out for dinner or have a takeaway or go out for a few drinks but the rest of the day I eat as normal.

Good post. x

BubbleTeaResa said...

First of all, Happy birthday!
Secondly, great post especially the bit about it not being a race. I'm in the same mindset about slow and steady wins the race and totally think cheat days/meals are a must. I've gone through my calender and marked the days I know I want to be "free days" (I'm doing weight watchers) and I feel good that I'm planning ahead.

Anyway, glad your birthday was awesome =) Can't wait for part 2!

Stormy@Big Butt Theory said...

I agree with you. It is about making your diet....diet being what you eat daily work for you. No one can really tell me how to eat or what to do. I know my body best and I know what I am capable of...

affectionforfitness said...

Very excellent post, Annie! I like the distinction you are making because I don't think I can realistically plan to eat for a lifetime without a splurge meal ever again! I just like food too much for that! This is a realistic--and still fun--rule you've made.

I suppose a person would want to intentionally schedule the splurge meal with family get-togethers or restaurant excursions in mind. As a teenager, I only splurged with friends or on dates. <<Almost the same rule.

:-) Marion

Monica (Weight Loss Journey) said...

I think they are important to.. have things we love too.. It's what kept me going on this journey!! I have not felt like i'v wanted to give up because im still allow the things I love every so often!

Kyle Gershman said...

I certainly don't plan for a cheat meal, but I'm aware of it happening and have become better about accepting it and getting right back on track.

And that could mean I have a cheat meal in one week and none for several weeks.

Who knows...maybe that is simply called intuitive eating!

Maren said...

I have higher calorie days, because it's something that's proven to work for me. It keeps me sane, makes me feel like I'm not making too much sacrifice and changes I can't keep up with. I agree!