Cheat Day? Why not a cheat life?
As you can probably guess, I'm not a fan of the concept of "cheat" days, meals, etc.
Seems reasonably logical on paper; a release of sorts after a period of intense discipline with diet or some other aspect of life. What I dislike is the psychological impact.
I see the same thing with people in how they drudge through the week waiting to be happy on Friday, or when we zoom out, drudge through weeks and months at a time waiting for a vacation or some other excuse to be happy down the road.
It's fun to let loose on a pizza or whatever after a week of chicken breast/brown rice/broccoli, but here's a wild idea- if you like pizza so much, why not pizza every day?
I'm using pizza as an example, but whatever your "pizza" is, I'm suggesting that it's possible for you to find a way to make these things a part of your everyday life.
Maybe it's wine. Maybe it's cigarettes. Maybe it's chocolate, or vacation, or going to the club every night. What I'm telling you, is that if you work hard in other areas, mould your life around them, there is absolutely a path for you to make these things a part of your daily life if they mean that much to you.
"Live every day like it was your last"
How many times do you need to read these words of the sick and dying before they sink in? For most of us, we don't know when it's coming either. We don't know if this is the last healthy day we have. Do you want to spend that day eating like a rabbit or denying yourself the things you enjoy?
I have no doubt that a major factor in the frightening rise in suicides and opiate abuse in the developed world is directly linked to the way in which we place a premium on a long life over an enjoyable life. We're addicted to extending the average lifespan with zero consideration for enjoyment of lifespan.
And the sad irony- we have far less control over how long we live than we've been led to believe. Something like 2/3 of cancers are considered "non preventable". We have a poor understanding of the root cause of hundreds of diseases. And even in the ultra "safe" confines of the developed world, accidents or other violent ends could strike at anytime. But telling you this is not in the interest of corporations that want to sell you stuff, media that wants you to read their articles, or government health agencies that want you to listen to them.
There are no "cheat" days. This is your fucking life- get busy living it. By being greedy and trying to make your life longer, you're making it worse.
Now how do you "cheat" every day? It takes some creativity, and takes a lot of adjusting and experimenting with yourself- or a really good fitness and lifestyle coach, to jam a cringeworthy plug in.
A few ideas
-Intermittent fasting can be a simple way for many to enjoy the foods they love every day. I eat during an eight hour window, and as long as my first two meals are clean, I can pretty much eat whatever I want for the last two.
-Stop taking "vacations" immediately. "Travel" is different and for most is one of the greatest joys of life; I'm talking about constant jaunts to Vegas, Mexico, etc. Sink every dollar from that budget and spend it on things that enhance your everyday life at home. IMO, the money is much better spent on services like therapists, personal trainers, things like better quality food, starting your own business or on education so you can get a better job. You don't need a break, you need to feel better so you don't need a break.
-Try and avoid the 9-5 lifestyle. It's impossible for some, but if you can, get out. It's simply very difficult to not get drawn into this endless pattern of enjoying 2 days of the week and hating the other 5. It sounds alien to many, but try and find a way where you can work a little bit every day. I try to think of it as a "Friday" lifestyle, like where in a lot of jobs you work on Friday, but only for 5-6 low pressure hours. Try and find a way to be your own boss.
-Being an absolute freak in the gym can buy you a lot of wiggle room with things like drinking or smoking. You're probably better off without these things, but if you're going to do them anyways, make sure you're working your ass off so that you can enjoy these things with a little less guilt. Denying yourself these things all week and then exploding on the weekend is probably worse for you anyways.
Whenever I think about this stuff I recall a quote from HBO's "The Wire"-
‘A life. A life, Jimmy, you know what that is? It’s the shit that happens while you’re waiting for moments that never come.’
Stop living your life waiting for an excuse to be happy. Monday is just as valuable as Saturday. If you constantly need a vacation from your daily life, something has gone seriously wrong. For various reasons, we've become convinced that happiness is a few days or a plane ride away, when it should be with us every day, every minute.
It looks different for everyone, but you owe it to yourself to relentlessly pursue calm, balanced enjoyment in your everyday life. The only thing you're cheating with a cheat day, is the other 6 days of the week.
Feel great again with Cooper Health Coaching!
Cooper Health Coaching is a personal training and health coaching service located in Vancouver, B.C. providing in-person and online coaching for clients locally and across North America. Founder Geoff Cooper is certified as both a Health Coach and Personal Trainer through the American Council on Exercise (ACE).