I’ve written about this before, but I get asked about it all the time, so I’m going to write about it again. The question I get a lot is, when are your cheat days? My answer isn’t what most people want to hear, but it’s been key to my success.
Before I go into when I allow myself to go off-plan, let me discuss my mindset and what I consider cheat days. First of all, there is no such thing as a cheat day. There are off-plan meals, but never an entire cheat day. Second, calling it a cheat day or a cheat meal is a misnomer. Cheating is defined as gaining an unfair advantage on a foe or a competitor. Eating off-plan doesn’t really gain any advantage for the person trying to lose weight or get fit. What it actually does is typically slow or stop any progress, and in some cases, derails people from eating on-plan. A more accurate description would be sabotage day. In my mind, eating off-plan without careful consideration is a sabotage meal.
So, to rephrase the question people ask me, when are my sabotage days? The answer to that question is NEVER. I do not allow myself any regular sabotage days. I have found that anytime I eat off-plan, it takes my body a few days and up to a week or more to recover and start making meaningful progress in weight loss. I hate working for no result, so I minimize any off-plan meals as much as I can.
It is impossible to eat on-plan all the time, though. There are meals that are had with friends, co-workers, and family that sometimes are not Paleo. Sometimes, we just want to let our hair down and imbibe some alcohol and eat some chocolate. On those occasions, Sherry and I carefully consider our meals and exercise for the day, and when we do go off-plan, we are still very mindful of the types of foods and drinks we eat and drink as well as the amount. For example, after a grueling day of playing in a band this past Saturday and not eating very much at all, we decided that we would drink some wine and eat some chocolate after dinner. We did so, and had a great time. The next day, we both found that our weight was the same as the day before, and that we were not feeling any detrimental effects (except for feeling maybe a little dehydrated). We planned our non-Paleo fun, and made sure it wouldn’t make a large impact on the total nutritional intake of calories for the day (considering the fact we don’t count calories).
You don’t have to live a life without pasta, pizza, and donuts forever. You just need to be aware that from time to time, if you do eat foods like that, you can make it have a reduced impact on your overall nutrition for the day if you plan ahead and are careful. Just don’t make a habit of it, and don’t schedule these “Cheat days.” They don’t give you any advantage at all, and at best, hurt your progress. That’s called sabotage.