Cheat Days Will Fuck Up Your Shit

The end of this week marks the one month anniversary of my relationship with weight loss, and I’ve decided to celebrate it in true “I’m 13 and this is my first relationship ever and every hour is a milestone” fashion with an update on my journey as well as offer my opinion on a part of weight loss I hear so much about — cheat days.

How My Journey is Going:

In my one month of weight loss, I have lost a total of about 9 pounds.  That’s NINE pounds.  That’s an entire gallon of milk off of my body.  Do you know how crazy that is?  Look at this!

MyFitnessPal is an amazing resource with an even more amazing community.

This line is me.  As you’ll see, it was not a consistently downward streak — if you are just getting started on weight loss or are feeling discouraged, take a close look at that line.  It doesn’t just go in one direction.  Sometimes it goes up, sometimes it doesn’t move at all, and on extra special days, it goes down.  That’s when we celebrate.  Hell, today my weight even went back up a little.  It happens!  It happens and it’s completely normal and okay.  Remember that if you lost every day, you’d disappear.  You’re too wonderful for that.

My measurements have gone down, too!  That’s probably an even more amazing feeling than the number on the scale decreasing is.  If you aren’t already — start taking your fucking measurements!  They have saved my sanity on more days than one.

I have dropped one pant size.  I can now fit comfortably into a 22, and squeeze into a 20.  My 24s fall down every 30 seconds.  I will soon have to go on a thrift store adventure to cover my ass while the weight comes off.

These are huge!

And now that I’ve shared my joy, onto what you really came here for…

Why Cheat Days Will NOT Be Fucking You Gently

When I was growing up, I always wanted to lose weight.  I wanted to be skinny and hot so shitty teenage boys whose pubes were still growing in would consider me an acceptable addition to their nightly-visited mental spank bank depository.  At my thinnest, I weighed 150 pounds, which is considered about 15-20 pounds overweight for someone my height; not quite obese, but a little out of shape.  Unfortunately, I am the spawn of a short woman who is the spawn of an even shorter woman.  We are very small people.  15 pounds is a lot on my 5’2″ frame.  15 pounds is the difference between me looking good naked and looking like a dilapidated and discarded Tupperware container of pink fleshy Jell-O, so I’m sure you can understand my 16-year-old self’s desperation to lose that 15 pounds as quickly as humanly possible.  I didn’t know a damn thing about nutrition, though.  I, like many others, assumed losing weight meant eating a steady diet of grilled chicken and steamed vegetables.  In other words, boring your taste buds into suicide.  So, how do you combat the perpetual agony of hating everything that goes into your mouth?  This question is what introduced me to the concept of a “cheat day”.

I discussed my plans for weight loss with a family friend — someone who had been dieting for as long as I could remember. (I wish I would have realized there was a reason they had never stopped dieting…)  She told me about the “cheat day” and how if you behaved yourself all week, you got to eat anything and everything you wanted on the last day because you fucking earned those three slices of cake.  Because you stayed under the rest of the week, apparently the Calorie Gods decided in your favor to ignore and void all cheat day calories.  That’s totally how it works!  Trust me.

And that’s what I did.

Fast forward a month, and despite paying my dues in the form of sacrificing my enjoyment of food (and life), I still ended up gaining weight.  Why?  Cheat days.

Why Are Cheat Days So Bad, Anyway?

  • All-or-nothing diets never work.
    • If you feel deprived, you’re going to be miserable.  If you’re miserable, you’re going to hate the process of losing weight.  If you hate the process, odds are, you’ll never make it to your destination.  You’re way more likely to give up on the way.
  • Deprivation leads to binging.
    • It’s a lot easier to stop after one cookie if you allow yourself to have them when you want them than it is to tell yourself no.  When you finally let yourself, your self-control is going to take a serious hit.  That “I’ll just have one” can easily turn into “I’ll just have the whole box”.
  • Weight loss should not be a punishment.
    • Losing weight should be fun and inspiring.  Don’t make yourself hate it by never letting yourself enjoy food.  Even if you do succeed in your weight loss, you probably won’t keep it off.  Do you really think you can continue hating your meals for the rest of your life?  Because I sure as hell couldn’t.
  • The forbidden fruit tastes the sweetest.
    • Knowing you’re not allowed to have something makes it all the more taboo, exciting, and desirable.
  • One day can negate a ton of progress.
    • You could have lost 1.5 pounds this week instead of the half pound you ended up losing  had you found ways to work in the junk food you want into your diet, rather than over-eating all of them on the final day of the week.

And most importantly…

Health is a lifestyle change.  Your goal weight is not the final destination.

This is a journey that never ends.  The happier you can become with your new choices, the more comfortable you will become with sticking to them.  Eventually, eating less will be easier.  The human body is absolutely incredible and can adapt to so much.  Give it time to grow and it will reward you.

Fall in love with the journey and not the destination.