How “Cheat Days” Could Actually Help You Lose WeightJessica Cohen
Wouldn’t it be neat if our bodies could give us bonus points for good behavior during the week that we can use on the weekends? It’s an idea that I have talked about for years now. “Oh, you turned down the birthday cookies in the conference room? Congratulations! You get three bonus points to use this Saturday!”
You are digging it, aren’t you? It would be so much easier to say no to that mid-week treat if calories consumed over the weekend did not count against us. It would also turn many more of us into avid and determined gamers. (Just saying.)
You know what I am talking about though, right? Haven’t you ever put off starting a diet because you had an event or a dinner reservation over the weekend? With a weekend of heavier-than-usual eating planned, it seems sort of silly to start afterwards (or resume) that diet.
Been there. Done that. I knew the, “I’ll start next Monday” theme very well way back when. Then I finally realized that there never seems to be a good time to start, because there is always another holiday, party, or dinner reservation with friends coming up on the calendar.
Oddly enough, it seems that my thought of banking bonus points for treats not eaten was not really that far off from reality. Research shows that we are at our highest weight after weekends, on both Sunday and Monday. Our weight tends to decrease during the week and is at its lowest point just prior to the start of the weekends.
While this does not mean you can hit that large hunk of cake you have been eyeing just yet, this finding may help to explain why some people might have a better long-term relationship with food than others.
Sadly, our bodies do not allow us to have a calorie-free hunk of cake on a Saturday night if we forgo the calories and treats during the work week. Losing, gaining, and maintaining weight is still a matter of mathematics regardless of the day of the week.
Yet, people who are most likely to lose weight and keep it off over the long run are those who have the largest change in their weight from the weekend to the weekdays on a regular, long-term basis. In other words, those who keep themselves on a shorter leash during the week (in terms of eating excess calories or fat) while allowing themselves a little more flexibility on the weekends tend to have more lasting success on the scale and a healthier relationship with food.
In theory, your ideal weight should change by the day, so you might want to regularly weigh yourself on the same day of the week for consistency purposes. Though instead of making it a game, we should try making it a lifestyle. While your body will never give you bonus points to be put toward a free piece of cake, allowing yourself a bit more leeway over the weekends might just give you the incentive to forgo temptations during the week with a more natural ease.
And as for what day to begin, why not today? Because “someday” is not a day of the week.
Jessica also recently wrote:
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How Birth Order Affects Kids’ Stress Levels — and How We, As Moms, Are Partially to Blame
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Mind Your Calories Today, Broncos Fans!