One Meal a Day to Six-Pack Abs 026: Why do I need a cheat day while dieting?

by David

in Health & Fitness

challenge yourself and get flat absThis is Day 26 of my challenge to get a 6 pack.

I’ve been on the six pack challenge for nearly a month.

Prior to that I was on my One Meal A Day diet for five months and frankly I don’t think I’d have done nearly so well if I hadn’t adopted a regular ‘cheat day’ every Saturday.

A cheat day being a day off from the diet where you eat whatever you want, or at least a more relaxed day where you’re not so restricted in what you eat.

Honestly, I can’t imagine having spent six months without indulging in some of the forbidden foods.

I’d have quit

The reality is, it wouldn’t have happened. I’d have had cheat days, but they wouldn’t have been scheduled in, they’d have been ad-hoc on the spur of the moment things and they would have killed my diet.

One talent I have (if you can call it a talent) is I’m really good at is hanging in there. I’m good at enduring a degree of hardship and discomfort if I know there’s an end point, or at least some respite. Pushing through the pain is far easier if I know there’s going to be some let-up along the line.

Eating one meal a day is extreme

Eating one meal a day is a little extreme, at least it was in the begining, so I needed to have a cheat day to help me feel I had something worth hanging-in-there for.

To begin with the obsession with food and eating is almost overwhelming.

It’s hard to eat at a calorie deficit because it leaves you feeling hungry sometimes, and the hunger generally comes in the shape of a cheese burger or some other of diet damaging junk food.

You need to break the junk food habit

At the start of a diet you haven’t yet broken the hold that junk food has over you, so limiting the diet damage to just one day makes a huge difference.

I’ve found that on Saturdays I can eat what I like guilt free, and as time has gone on I’ve also discovered that I usually do very little damage to my diet because I’m making better choices.

And when Monday morning comes around I’m ready to go for it again and get in a good day on the diet.

Six months into the diet and eating one meal a day is pretty normal to me now, in fact it feels abnormal when I have a cheat day, and this was the problem I faced this weekend.

The problem with my diet

Usually my rest day or cheat day falls on a Saturday, but on Saturday I ended up eating just two meals. It was a close call too… because I nearly ate only one meal.

So today being Sunday, my eating plan says I should have two meals, but again, I very nearly missed lunch.

I’m so close to my goal now so it’s tough to stick to the plan when I know I’m only a matter of weeks from the flat stomach I;ve been working towards.

There’s a huge temptation to get the results quicker by eating only one meal on Saturday and Sunday as I do throughout the week.

It’s easier not to cheat

It seems bizarre to me now that I can even contemplate going without a cheat day.

It turns out that it’s easier not to cheat, than it is to cheat.

In the end I made today my cheat day, so in effect I’ve just swapped Saturday and Sunday around.

I ate two meals plus a few other goodies like some ice cream and some chocolate. It was good.

I didn’t give in to the temptation to go through the weekend without cheating because I know it would be a bad choice in the long term.

Good reasons to have a cheat day

  • Keeping the calorie intake higher on the weekends, helps me (and my body) to understand that there’s an abundance of food. This keeps me going through the week at the times when I feel hungry.
  • I haven’t read extensively about metabolism, but I want to avoid killing it, so I’m avoiding getting even close to crash dieting (I consume over 1800 calories a day) and I increase the calories over the weekend and trust that it takes me a million miles away from ‘starvation mode’, which is something I’ve often heard mentioned.
  • Life’s too short to deny yourself every pleasure. One of the things I really love about what I’m doing is that I can enjoy the diet in ‘ the now’. If you are deferring your payback to six months in the future it’s harder to make good choices about your diet, because inevitably the hardship will be too much and you’ll quit.
  • Most of all I don’t want to have to deal with the argument in my head over whether to cheat mid-week. It’s already decided. I can’t cheat because I’ve either just had a cheat day or I’m just about to have one… and making that decision in advance gives me 5 clear days of kick-ass weight-loss to feel proud about.

Dealing with cheating

I know that come Monday morning when I take the picture for the challenge, I won’t have lost any weight and I’ll look bloated and puffed up, but that comes with the territory.

I have to remember that by Wednesday the cheat day bloat will have gone, plus I’ll have lost more fat.

Sticking to the plan is key to my success, I’ve know that right from the start!

Diet Progress Photo’s

This is me today 26 February 2012

Day 26 Six Pack Abs Challenge

This is me a the start of the challenge

day 1 six pack abs challenge

And as I was at 205 pounds

205 lbs overweight

More diet related posts:

Six-Pack Abs Challenge

One meal a day diet

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