Say “No!” to Cheat Days

My daughter – who stays up late doing homework most nights – was NOT feeling the alarm this morning when it went off at 4:50am. When I went in to check on her to go for our run, she tiredly begged for a “Cheat Day.” While my first instinct was to be angry that she didn’t decide this last night before I set my alarm, what I actually said was, “It’s not a cheat day. It’s a rest day. You’ve earned it.”

I think a lot of the problem with the way we are programmed to approach a healthy lifestyle is that any decision that does not feel “healthy” is framed negatively. I’ve really struggled with this programming in my own head with the “Good Day” v/s “Bad Day” mentality around my eating. But I also find I even look at general “productivity” metrics in my life that relate to whether or not I’ve exercised. It’s very hard not to assign negative value to things that don’t get you to the goal of “SKINNY” because that’s the brainwashing we’re pushing back against.

I sometimes use a lot of the words and phrase that assign “value” to food or activity in a joking manner, but even that is solidifying the brainwashing I’m having to undo. So this morning I decided “Cheat Day” is no longer in my vocabulary. Even as a joke. I want my daughter to be able to sleep in if she’s tired and not critique herself or assign a negative value to the decision when sleep is probably one of the most healthy activities you can partake in for your entire well-being. I also want to be able to enjoy a donut or a cookie or some french fries and not have to declare a “Cheat Day” in order to do so.

I’m not cheating on anything except for the destructive language around food and exercise that has been instrumental in brainwashing me my and the perception of my value my entire life.

3 thoughts on “Say “No!” to Cheat Days”

  1. Good call. I just got diagnosed with gestational diabetes and had my first nutritionist appointment yesterday. I actually left a lot more hopefully and less overwhelmed than I was before I went in. However, I’m definitely finding myself needing to reframe wording and think about healthy ways to incorporate the things I want. Nothing is off limits, I just have to pick and choose when and how much, and some things I just can’t eat a lot of. Baby steps.

  2. Holy crap, I love this! I’m trying so hard to learn to love my body, thinking that if I can do that, I will take care of it better. But it’s hard.

  3. I hate the term cheat dayTo me, at least for me it would be a total disaster. When I took a nutrition/exercise class. It was okay to eat 2 bites- the first bite and the last bite of sweets. There were no forbidden foods. I learned to eat what was good for me. If I had gotten cheat days, I would have probably spent the day eating sugary and fatty foods instead of eating that one small brownie and moving on

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