Anyone who has ever exercised or dieted knows the allure of the well-deserved cheat days. The purpose of these days is to reward a long week of workouts or diet adherence with a meal or two with which to indulge and eat whatever you want! Sound too good to be true? The good news is: it’s not! Cheat days actually provide the flexibility to stay committed to your fitness goals! Here’s how they work:
Cheat days remind you to take everything in moderation, including moderation! If you regularly eat healthy and exercise, indulging in sweets one time isn’t going to dismantle everything you’ve worked for! After all, eating the same thing repeatedly gets REALLY boring, and enforcing a rigid diet increases your chances of getting fed up and ultimately deviating from it. Keep yourself flexible and you’re more likely to stick to your fitness goals!
Cheat days are powerful incentives. Studies show that having incentives for meeting diet or fitness goals is an effective strategy for changing dietary behavior. So not only are cheat days good for your sanity, they may actually increase your chances of fitness goal success. With a planned day purposefully set aside for cheating the diet, you’re more likely to stick it out the other days.
And of course, your muscles need time to repair. If your workout routine includes lots of strength training or intense cardio, a rest day gives your muscles some time to recuperate, which sets you up to perform even better during next week’s workouts! Don’t think of cheat days as JUST about eating food – treat yourself to an occasional massage or some time in the hot tub to relax your muscles!
This leads us to our last point: don’t forget to rest! Cheat days should be about resting and recharging. Give yourself time to sleep and lounge in your PJs! If you tend to wake up early, try going to bed earlier the night before so you can rack up some extra hours of Z’s. The additional rest is a GREAT way to energize yourself for the coming week – and all the working out you’re going to do at the local gym.
If you have any more questions about the benefits of cheat days, or how you might best take advantage of yours, just ask any of the instructors or staff at your local gym. We’re always ready to be your Fitness Connection.