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Cheat Day - (Stacia Naquin)

By: Stacia Naquin
By: Stacia Naquin

We're getting closer to Super Bowl Sunday!! That means pizza, wings and chips will be calling your name. So, what do you do if you've committed to a healthier 2010? A cheat day may be just what your diet ordered. But...

If you’re like me and you vowed to make 2010 a healthier year, you also know the struggle of not wanting to be left out of the fun on days where junk food abounds. A perfect example… Super Bowl Sunday.

Think about it: what kinds of foods do you think of for the Super Bowl… pizza,wings, chips, dip, etc. None of it screams healthy. But who wants to be stuck with a couple of carrots while everyone dives into the pepperoni pizza? Not me!

So what about a cheat day? You’d think that if you’ve stuck to your meal plan and worked out all week, you’ve earned a day to eat what you want. But our experts say – not so fast, especially if you want to keep progressing with your fitness goals.

The first question you have to ask yourself is… what does “cheating” mean to you?

Laura Schaelling, a Certified Personal Trainer with the YMCA says you should ask yourself that question beforehand. “Do you mean ordering whatever you want at a restaurant while lounging with friends for the day? Or are you talking about eating like a hog from sunup to sundown?” said Schaelling. “What you consider a treat will determine how much and how often you can splurge without worrying about the effects it’ll have on your body.”

So, it all goes back to that age old fitness motto… everything in moderation. That includes what you eat on your cheat day.

“Cheating should be done in moderation,” says Matthew Creech, a Certified Personal Trainer with 2xForce. “Eating six cheeseburgers and having three beers is not moderation.”

You also have to make sure your cheat “day” doesn’t keep going. That’s what happened to me.

OK – confession time. While I am definitely a football fan and WILL watch the Super Bowl on Sunday, MY Super Bowl has already happened. I’m a HUGE pageant fan and the Miss America pageant was last weekend. So, I held a watch party at my house with some friends. I made all sorts of yummy “Super Bowl-like” food. We had chips, dip, pizza, cookies and, oh yeah, a veggie tray. I did well and cheated with moderation the night of the pageant. But I had trouble the next day when I had all these junk food leftovers sitting around my kitchen. So, my cheat day turned into a cheat weekend. That was NOT good, because then I didn’t want to get back on my healthier eating plan for the week. I wanted more junk!

But, I battled through those unhealthy urges and am back on track. So, I’m gearing up for this weekend knowing I can have a good time and eat fun football food. I just need to make sure it’s for the Super Bowl and not for the entire work week.

Jerod Langness with 24-Hour Fitness emphasizes that point. “The important thing to remember is that it's one day. Don't go crazy, but do enjoy yourself,” he said. “Make it a reward for the awesome, fitness week you had. If you've been disciplined in creating new, healthy habits, this time to have fun shouldn't be much of a negative impact.”

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