Every Sunday I eat like there’s no tomorrow. Pizza, burgers, cake, chocolate. I even ate a whole Easter egg at 10.30am a couple of Sundays ago and will be continuing to make the most of the ridiculously early Easter confectionary on the UK supermarket shelves.
I get asked ‘How are you not fat?!’
Come Monday, I am asked a very different question when the cake or sweets are being handed around at work.
‘How do you have so much self control to say no?!’
From one extreme to the other.
This, ladies and gentleman is my preferred way of eating. Welcome to six days eating clean and my overly Instagrammed #cheatday each Sunday. Lately, I’ve been often asked what my weekly meal plan looks like so this post is a two part blog, firstly about why I eat the way I do, and will follow up with my weekly meal plan so you get an idea of what I eat on the days I don’t inhale calorie laden junk food!
I spent YEARS obsessing over every little thing I ate. Every.Single.Thing. It’s exhausting beating yourself up emotionally each day, thinking ‘Should I have eaten that?’, ‘I need to eat less tomorrow’, ‘How many calories have I had today?’. I spent YEARS being controlled by food, also exhausting. All those thoughts of ‘I NEED SUGAR’, ‘Oops well I guess I will start my diet tomorrow’, ‘Screw it, I’m having a great time today, yes cake is definitely a good idea’. All those thoughts and actions would be followed by guilt, calorie counting and anxiety.
Eating healthful food and eating clean are really two quite different things. We can all eat healthful food, I’ve always been careful what goes on my plate. But that’s the difference between healthy and clean. Before the Cheat Day’s came to fruition I would make sure my meals were well planned, lean meat, vegetables, all that jazz. It was the ‘extra’ treats I allowed myself that really stopped me from ever succeeding with an ideal weight or getting the most out of my gym workouts.
Eating clean means choosing the healthy option, but NOT following through with any extra treats. Gym obsessives eat clean and monitor their protein, carb and fat intake, and I also do this to some degree, but I don’t weigh food and count carbs, I just know what should and shouldn’t go on my plate Monday to Saturday.
Cheat Day started for me around June 2013. The Boy Next Door was a huge incentive, and not because I was trying to get in shape to impress him! Oh no! I never ever work out or eat well for anyone else but myself. The reason he was a huge incentive, was due to his commitment to the gym and sensible eating. It was unbelievably admirable, and I realised that no matter how many gym workouts I completed, I would never be truly satisfied with my reflection in the mirror unless I pulled in the reigns on what I chose to eat.
So began Cheat Day. I made the decision to be super healthy Monday through Saturday, with Sunday being my day to go wild. Believe me it wasn’t easy those first few weeks. I am that girl that grew up with cake in her school lunchbox everyday, sweets were allowed, the grandparents brought chocolate every time they came to visit. I was a Sugar Crackhead. When I started eating on this clean/cheat routine, Sunday seemed sooooo far away. I would be dreaming and scheming every single thing I would inhale during that one day. Around Sunday rolled, and I would wake up feeling like it was Christmas morning, so bloody excited to eat something on the cheat list! Nowadays, Sunday comes by so quickly that we often haven’t even thought about what we will treat ourselves to (with the exception of that Easter egg mentioned earlier, I had impatiently waited seven sleeps to bite into that thing).
Within a couple of weeks, for the first time I can remember, I lost my craving for sugar. I can’t even describe how amazing that feels for me, well actually yes I can, I tell people I feel like I have been released from an emotional prison. No more NEEDING sugar, no more thinking about it, no desire to eat anything ‘bad’. A-MAZ-ING! Believe me I still enjoy every single mouthful of what I eat on my Cheat Day, but I am also so happy to get to Monday morning and have a vegetable juice for breakfast.
I’ve found my happy food balance and whilst this way of eating may not be everyone’s cup of tea, it sure as hell works for me! I personally prefer one day of indulging in plenty of treats, than having a small treat every day or so and constantly feeling just a little bit guilty. I did actually feel guilty when I first started my Cheat Days, because I guess there is that element of fear in the back of your mind that screams ‘What if this all backfires and I gain weight?!’. But now that it’s 9 months down the line, and I am leaner than I have been in years, I do not waste my time worrying about weight gain, but spend all my time enjoying every bite of whatever I choose to eat.
Is it anti-social to eat this way? Yep, I’m not going to deny it for a second. I tend to eat at home during the week to avoid the lack of good food choices on restaurant menus, however TBND and I often ‘treat’ ourselves to a restaurant meal midweek and will choose between our favourites: Vietnamese Pho soup, Sushi or a Mexican Salad. People WILL think you’re weird if you adopt these eating habits, our friends certainly do. They look kind of puzzled by the whole routine, and many a joke is made. Do I care that they find it weird? Hell No. Because I can enjoy each day without beating myself up emotionally over my food choices, which I witness so many friends and people I know doing to themselves: ‘I need to go on a diet’, ‘I feel so fat’, ‘I can’t stop eating sugar’. Been there, done that, got the t shirt and it did not look good on me.
I wish everyone I know (and those I don’t!) that is going on diet number no. 3725 would give this ‘diet’ a try. Because it’s not a diet, that is the difference. I do not skip meals, I never starve, I eat many times a day.
Do I exercise much? Yes. Does that help? Yes. I exercise a minimum of four mornings a week, I spend 30 minutes on a treadmill every Monday and Thursday morning sweating my arse off doing interval sprinting. Come Tuesday and Thursday you will find me in the weights room, lifting weights, and not 2 kg dumb bells, no, heavy weights, the kind that make you grunt like the dudes in the gym. So yes, this exercise certainly helps me become muscular and toned. BUT it is true what they say when it comes to maintaining a healthy weight. It is 80% about what you eat, and the remaining 20% is helped by exercise. I have biceps because I lift weights, I now have a smaller arse because I make the right food choices. Ya get me?
There are still many improvements I can make to my body, it is far from being perfect, but do I criticise my reflection in the mirror these days? No. In days gone by, I would stare at myself and helplessly wonder how I could get thinner thighs, or which diet would be most effective to change my body shape. I now love my figure because I have worked bloody hard on it, and instead of feeling helpless, I now see any improvement needed as a bit of a project, a much more positive mindset to have.
Part 2, the weekly menu, coming soon!So there we have it, Cheat Day! I’m not here to show off, I’m not here to say I’m better than anyone else, but I am here to share my experience in the hopes that anyone else feeling helpless may find something amongst this ramble that will kickstart their positive food journey.
(You can follow my #cheatday Instagrams here)