Here's a question for all you fitness buffs.
Let's assume you ate like you were going to the electric chair for six days a week. I mean, full-on feeding frenzy where you hit the bakery for breakfast, the BBQ rib joint for lunch and Bobby's Burger Palace for dinner. Assume you ate that way from Monday through Saturday. Then on Sunday, you ate five small meals, drank eight glasses of water and hit the gym for an hour.
Would you wake up Monday morning and be fit and toned?
Of course not. So why would you wake up on Monday morning and be a fat piece of shit if you did things the other way around? That's right, my dear readers, I'm talking about the cheat day. And for me, it's the most important day of the week.
Because cheaters always win.
One of the reasons I'm able to maintain a healthy lifestyle, complete with clean eating and rigorous exercise, is because I have a finish line. A weekly goal that is achievable and never out of reach. Six days a week, I eat right and exercise. On the seventh day, I do whatever the hell I want.
Then the race starts all over again.
A lot of "experts" will tell you to just have a cheat meal, not a cheat day. Fuck that noise. If I eat five times a day (three meals and two snacks), then I eat 35 times a week. And only one of them can be naughty? I don't like that ratio and it's not good for the soul.
Being fit is not just about having a healthy body, it's about having a healthy mind, too.
I like to eat, so every day is a struggle. But knowing that I'm never more than a few days away from freedom of choice helps me control my cravings, or push me through moments of weakness. If I'm in a situation where I have a craving, I write it down and tell myself that on Sunday, I can have it.
Then I do, and wonder what all the fuss was about in the first place.
That's the beauty of the cheat day. Usually, by the time I'm done pigging out, I feel so gross that I don't even have another craving until at least Wednesday, because my body is still recovering from being stuffed with crap. But that's the exception, not the rule.
More often than not, I don't even eat that much junk.
Just having a day where I know I have the freedom to eat what I want, or plotz on the couch like a lazy bum is enough. Realistically, if you don't have a finish line, you will never complete the race. Imagine getting onto the track to run and after two laps you ask your coach when you can stop and he says "never."
The cheat day is not designed to see how many calories you can consume without dying, but rather a way to reward yourself for six days of hard work, discipline and commitment. You should be able to feel good about it. If you feel guilty, you haven't earned it.
Case in point.
Last Sunday I made a special trip to a place about an hour away called "Hot Dog Johnny's."
Their menu is limited to four items: Hot dogs, french fries, birch beer and buttermilk. Yes, buttermilk, because nothing goes better with fried pork than fermented dairy.
But their hot dogs will make you see God.
I ordered a pair of secret dogs, not on the menu, called "Route 80," named after the mega highway a few miles over. I complemented them with an order of crispy fries and a homemade birch beer in a frosty mug.
As I'm sitting on the picnic bench outside, slurping down the greasy goodness, I get the looks.
Yes, the looks.
I could see a couple of portly patrons staring me down. "Oh, here's this muscley guy with veins running up and down his arms, not an ounce of fat on him, eating this dreck." Probably because it makes them feel bad about themselves, as if they were dealt a shitty hand in life and I kept coming up aces.
I'm there because I earned the right to be. Not only that, I earned the right to look the way I do because I know when to work hard, just as I know when to stop and reward myself for a job well done. If I had nothing to look forward to, I would have very little motivation to stay focused.
It also makes the food taste better.
No kidding. Because I can't have all the good stuff during the week, when I do have it, it's like the greatest food I've ever eaten. I have a double-porkroll, egg and cheese on a bagel every Sunday morning and it's like the most magnificent sandwich in the universe.
My wife laughs at me as I moan in ecstasy while devouring it.
That's what makes the cheat day fun. But I always make sure I get my nutrition in at some point because Saturday is usually when I go heavy at the gym. I'm not pressed for time and know I have a day off ahead of me, so I load up the plates and try to break a few barriers.
I don't want to throw those gains away the next morning.
That's why I start my cheat day with a ViSalus protein shake. I can get the nutrients I need and not have to worry about my recovery, since I know the rest of the day won't be geared toward eating well. Just the opposite, in fact. But hey, since it is my cheat day, my kitchen turns into Frankenstein's laboratory.
I assemble parts from all over the lab and toss them into my shake.
My favorite in recent weeks is the Vi-Nilla milkshake. I take two scoops of ViSalus sweet cream nutritional shake mix, two scoops of Ben & Jerry's Greek Frozen Yogurt, one ViSalus chocolate chip Nutra-Cookie (crumbled), a handful of ice cubes and six ounces of whole milk.
Blend that sucker up and you have your own Blizzard, or McFlurry, or whatever your local frozen treat is, with 30 grams of protein. I'm an early riser, so that usually holds me over until mid morning. That's when the party really gets started. And by party I mean BACON. LOTS OF BACON.
It's my cheat day, and I've earned it.
Fitness Friday is sponsored by ViSalus. Opinions expressed are solely of the author. For more information on the ViSalus line of products click here.