As I write this, it is Saturday, my very first cheat day on my diet. I decided to set aside Saturdays for this, since Saturdays are the days I’m most likely to be home and having a good time with my family and most likely to cheat on my diet anyway.
For those of you new to my blog, I’m following the diet prescribed in The Four Hour Body by Tim Ferriss. Ferriss recommends a cheat day once a week for two reasons (actually there was a third reason, too, but I can’t remember it off the top of my head).
- Everybody cheats on their diets at some point. Often, this can lead to guilt and more cheating and then complete abandonment of the diet. If there is no guilt involved because it is regularly scheduled and is something to look forward to, like a little reward, then people are going to stick to their diets better the rest of the time.
- Athletes and bodybuilders are aware that to lose the last little bit of body fat, it is best to feed one’s body at different calorie level intervals from day to day. By having regular intakes of extra calories, we actually increase our body’s ability to lose fat, not gain it. (I know, this seems completely contrary to the whole yo-yo diet feast/famine phenomenon, but it isn’t. I can’t even begin to explain it properly. If you want to learn more about this idea, go to Tim Ferriss’s blog or check out his book.)
When I woke up this morning, all excited because I knew today was the day I was going to get to eat whatever I want, the excitement quickly drained away when I realized that I didn’t really want to cheat. I’m feeling really good and I am abounding in energy based on what I have been eating on the diet so far. I don’t really feel like I need to have this cheat day. What if eating this crap and/or extra calories ends up making me start craving the bad for me stuff all over again? I think it was just yesterday that I realized that I’m finally not craving every little bit of goodies that I see. All week every time I went into a truck stop it was a mammoth battle of my willpower vs. the lure of doughnuts. What if this cheat day starts that crave cycle all over again? And what if this cheat day food immediately sticks to my hips, despite what Ferriss says? Obviously Ferriss needs to bone up on his Holly psychology 101, because he didn’t address these fears or how to overcome my inner critic.
Whoa. Talk about a blow to my inner child who was really looking forward to eating those strawberry jelly rolls I bought just for the occasion. (I bought them Tuesday—do you know how hard it is for me to not immediately scarf treats? But I didn’t! I waited.) However, I forgot that I had some 72% dark chocolate up there. How can one forget one has dark chocolate? Egads, I need to have my chocolate lover’s card revoked.
Ugh. Cheat day is turning out not to be so fun. I need to relax and quit worrying. I suppose the best way to see if this whole cheat day idea is working is to watch the data. I’ll be taking measurements on Monday, one full week after I started my dietary changes. I’ll be watching the numbers over time to get a feel for the patterns my body tends to stick to. I’ll also be logging what I eat every day, including cheat day, so I can get an idea of what I’m eating. I’ll let you know how it all pans out. If the data tells me it isn’t working or if it turns out cheat day leads to cheat week every time, then I know it’s time to cut the concept of cheat day out of my dietary regimen.
In the meantime, *gulp* I suppose I’ll have to take one for Team Holly and eat that chocolate. Sigh. If I have to….
UPDATE: I survived my first cheat day. I have to tell you though, it wasn’t pleasant. I ended up with heart burn after eating for lunch some of those tornado thingamajigs that are ubiquitous at gas stations. I also suffered a sugar high after eating those jelly rolls I mentioned. I didn’t overdo it on the chocolate, though. That I savored. One savors chocolate. Three squares of the bar above is a serving. I ate it, carefully re-wrapped the rest and put it aside for next week’s cheat day. I’m looking forward to that!
(Just as a side note, I don’t feel a single serving of good quality dark chocolate is really cheating all that much, especially if one works it into their diet plan. It has 4 g of fiber, which is as much or more as many types of bread, and is relatively low in sugar and has chemicals/substances in it that are actually quite good for us. It is high in fats, but that is why I said it needs to be worked into your diet plan, not just eaten in addition to it. Note—I said dark chocolate. Regular chocolate, or milk chocolate, has all sorts of crap added to it. Eating dark chocolate during the week would be perfectly acceptable in The Zone, but since it has a small amount of sugar added to it, to my understanding it is verboten except on cheat days in FHB. Which is sad, boo hoo hoo.)
For dinner I had buffalo hot wings, deep fried mushrooms and a Belgian waffle smothered in syrup. I took the leftovers with me and ate the leftover mushrooms later that evening for a snack. Anyway, by the end of the day I felt absolutely disgusting, and I didn’t eat that much different than if I wasn’t watching what I ate. Which was pretty terrible, in retrospect.
Man, I eat a lot of crap when I don’t prepare the food myself. When I make my own food, I actually eat really well, even when I’m not on a diet, because I’m conscious of what I’m putting in my mouth. This is a major reason why the scale was creeping up while I’ve been on the truck, obviously. I was eating out far too often.
I was also worried that the cheat day would slow down fat loss, but instead, the numbers seem to show differently. As of 7/5, the day before cheat day, I had lost 5.67 inches off my body. Just since that day, I lost an additional 6.58 inches, for a total of 12.25 inches. Whoa. I guess I had nothing to be worried about. (I even measured each one several times just to be sure I wasn’t pulling the tape extra tight so I could get smaller numbers. I was amazed at the differences in just three days!) I also jumped right back into the regular dietary routine the next day, so my fear of going on a cheating bender was unfounded, as well.
I’m stoked beyond belief. I think that for next week I won’t worry quite so much about cheat day…