‘Cheat day’ is Great – As Long As It Doesn’t disrupt Your Weight Loss!
The picture below is from my heart rate monitor app. It’s a snapshot of my post cheat day workout data. It was hard (ignore the duration by the way – my workout was much shorter than that. I just kept the monitor on whilst I did a 30 minute stretching session at the end, hence the skewed data!)
Apart from the occasional session I do with the weight lifting club, I keep Sunday as a rest day. So why did I do this session?
Saturday was a cheat day. A day where I eat more than I should and don’t really care. You’ve got to have a life beyond the gym and healthy eating, otherwise you end up resentful. It’s also a psychological reward.
The thing is, this Saturday I took it a bit too far…
A beer, (a lot of) chocolates, a pie at the football, a couple more ciders and some chips in the evening. There’s having a cheat day, then there’s that.
I needed some payback for it, so I trained hard yesterday.
A good workout following a cheat day is a good thing. Not only does it elevate calorie burn, psychologically it feels as though you are undoing some of the damage you’ve done.
Now, I realise that many people will see me using terms like ‘damage’ and think it’s extreme, but essentially if you are looking to lose weight, you are damaging your progress with a cheat day. I damaged my weight loss progress on Saturday, so I had to repair it.
The workout looked like this. On paper, it’s a doddle. In real life, with full intensity it was grim…
- 5 x 10 Squats @ 100kg
- 6 x 3 Muscle Snatches @ 55kg
- 5 x 10 (5R, 5L) Turkish Get Ups @ 16kgs
- 8 x 10m Overhead Dumbbell Walk @ 40kg
- 8 x 10 Dumbbell Lunges @ 40kg
- 3 x 3 Barbell Bench Press @ 100kg
It was exactly what was needed though. I’m on a fat loss phase and where I wholeheartedly believe that a cheat day is a good thing, I know that without proper payback that Saturday’s indulgence would have set me back. Now I’m not concerned – I’ve done the work. The piper’s been paid.
It’s About Balance
This week, I’ve had a three fantastic progress updates from Personal Training clients.
One of them has lost 44lbs to date. Another is the lightest he’s been in over a year (despite injuries disrupting his training) and a third is making great progress with her weight loss, 5.5lbs down in 2 weeks.
These guys all understand the need for consistency. Yes, there will be days when calories are higher, that’s fine. We just need to make sure there’s a plan in place where the debt can be repaid post cheat day.
You can’t half-arse your effort at this and expect great results. It takes time, it takes effort and it takes a little planning. You won’t be lean in a week, despite your best efforts!
There’s a couple of points here…
1. Cheat day is great, but make sure it’s been earned.
I worked extra hard today, knowing how much I’d eaten the day before. If I’d skipped todays workout, I’d have stalled my progress. Not good. I had to make sure my cheat day was earned.
2. Be accountable.
I’m accountable – in my weight lifting club we are following a programme set by the coach. We’re doing an online check in, so we all know who has done it and how they found it.
If you’re not accountable, the cheat day seems to matter less and as such may become a regular thing rather than an exception.
Personally, I’ve found a high level of accountability really helpful and it’s given me real food for thought for when I launch my online personal training service. Most coaches go with a monthly check in, but I’m 100% sure weekly is the way to go.
Find yourself someone or something to be accountable to. It’ll transform your results.
To sum up, I think a cheat day is a good thing. It helps keep adherence to a diet and allows a level of sanity when the rest of your eating is conducted under a spell of self-control.
A cheat day has the potential to destroy a diet if it’s taken too far. As much as we all like to eat cake, the reality is that too many calories will undo your diet progress, so we have to bear that in mind and offset cheat days with lower calorie days either before or after, and a workout too.
That means you can still have a cheat day without preventing your weight loss.
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