If you are into bodybuilding, or at least trying to build some muscles while following the bodybuilding diet, most probably you have heard about amazing, awesome, brilliant, cheat days.
The fact is… as soon as you start keeping up with a particular diet (doesn’t really matter if it is related to bodybuilding, if it follows some other rules, e.g.Chinese or Mediterranean diet), you gonna start thinking about ‘forbidden’ foods. Most likely these are the foods that you used to eat before the diet started. However, now you ‘cannot’ have them anymore! Such a pity! Not getting it? Well… Let’s make an example with chocolate.
You used to have at least a small chocolate candy each day with a cup of coffee.. or couple of biscuits with a glass of milk. The diet starts and you have to forget about all the sweet things, which means ‘Bye bye, chocolate candies, see you later my dear biscuits!’ Ant then it starts…
it seems to you that there is nothing else better than that particular chocolate candy! It’s not that you simply want it.. no.. you notice candies in the food stores, while buying your chicken and vegetables, you notice all the posters advertising chocolate. Even the strangers walking down the street talking and eating chocolate candies receive way more attention from you than it was before…
But wait a minute! Nothing weird about it. You were used to this particular food, which is usually filled with addictive sugar.. to be honest, loads of sugar! Suddenly you cut it out from your grocery list and diet! Your body reacts as crazy, it craves for that particular food so bad.. it drives you crazy! If you are not following the diet, which allows you to have a piece of chocolate piece each day, or at least several times a week.. most likely you are familiar with the craziness that I am writing about.
In such case cheat day equals haven.. idyll! One day a week, when you are allowed to forget about all the diet rules and just eat whatever you like, as much as you like.
Most likely you will have a great workout session that day and expect that all the crappy food that you are going to consume afterwards will become into beautiful lean muscles! Different theories state different things, yet we are humans and most likely we believe in what we wan to believe.
Cheat day sounds good? Then most probably you think that it’s an amazing way to diet and not to diet at the same time.
For those, who are not familiar with my lifestyle, I can say that up until the middle of February 2015, I was used to live without any cheat days. No cheat days at all. No single day in 2 years (if not a bit more) I allowed myself to enjoy and eat whatever I like, as much as I like, without feeling bad about it. There was only one sentence in my mind: “Eat clean, stay lean, train hard..” and… and blah blah blah..
Most likely I was expecting to turn into someone perfect. “Guilty pleasures? Naaah, those are not for me! Those are for others, I do not want anything, I do not need anything, I can survive while eating only foods from my diet. That’s happiness, that’s how life should be!” – that’s how I used to think.. But should life actually be like that? Is that happiness?
In the middle of February one clever new friend of mine had a long and honest chat with me. Ex. female bodyfitness athlete, who works as a dietitian and personal trainer at the moment, asked me, if I truly think that this makes me happy. She also asked if there was really no food that I would love to have, but I ‘can’t’? Of course I answered: ‘no I do not want anything else… no I would not like any food that is not written into the bodybuilding diet list’. However, the following question made my brains change its mind:
‘when was the last time you ate whatever you like, as much as you like? when was the last time you ate a burger or a pizza?’
I realized that I do not remember such moment.. yes, I was a teenager and I was having burgers without any guilt, but what about the last 2 years? I could not remember any moment like that. I could not tell why I was not having such foods either, what was I afraid of.. and what did it change? So I made a decision.. on Saturday i will have a cheat day.. amazing one, eating whateeeeever I like, a much as I want!
So.. let’s sum up my previous cheat day (you wouldn’t believe how much I can eat!): starting my morning with peanut butter, Corny bar, a bit of dark chocolate.. after about 1,5hour: 1,5 big bowl of choco puffs with skimmed , a bit of protein pie, almonds, dried fruits.. Snack: 3 pieces of protein pie, Corny, dried fruits, small bowl of choco puffs with skimmed milk. Lunch: pizza and junk food buffet… 3full plates I think… of all the possible crap (in comparison to the food I am used to eat)! Then: candy store: chocolates, gummy bears, super artificial tasting juice… Evening snack: oreos… Dinner: 1 Big Texas (or what the heck) Meniu from Mc Donalds and half a Share-a-box small box.
Unfortunately I have not made pictures of all the foods I had, so maybe it sounds not too much? Well much… but not insane? Trust me..
it was too much.. way too much!
Unfortunately, my body though so too.. In the end of the day I felt extremely tired.. I barely could move or get my ass from McDonalds, I had struggles with falling asleep… My legs, arms, whole body was shaking three times that day.. All that sugar and fat – my body did not like it at all! Several times that day i had no ideas what was going on wrong with my ystem.. am I getting sick? Will I get a heart attack, or will I get better soon?
Nevertheless, sugar is addictive as hell.. As soon as I started feeling better, my hand was going towards the bag with candies.
And then the negative body reaction was coming back.
In the end of the evening the only thing I was craving was chicken and vegetables, also eggs (preparation-I did not care about that!), like 5 of them with loooooads of vegetables. My body was crying for good and real food.
What is more, the same evening I got a disgusting skin allergy.. which continued for two more days.
Next day I woke up tired.. terribly tired, it seemed that I had a sleepless night, partying, drinking. And no..I was not. I had a glass of cider, that’s it. It was all because of junk fat food and sugar. Literally speaking, it was slowly killing me that day.
Conclusion..? Next morning I woke up thinking how much I hate ‘bad’ food.. ‘No, I will not eat it again, no no no!’
The day after I was doing grocery shopping.. I secretly looked at the shelf filled with dark chocolate and thought: ‘well, maybe I could have a piece of you..?’
Two days after… I caught myself thinking about the types of chocolate I still have hidden at my place, which I could eat on the next cheat day..!
Today it is Wednesday.. three evenings left until Saturday morning.. until my cheat day. Am I still going to have it..? I mean after all those bad experiences? Yes! It was fun, it was sweet, I got some foods I was craving for. However, it is not so tempting to eat EVERYTHING this time.. So I am already making a plan of what and how much I would love to eat on Saturday.. most likely it’s gonna be sushi and home made pizzas. Of course.. let’s wait and see if I change my mind. But as it seems to be now.. we learn from our mistakes.. I learned that my body hates crappy foods, but I have also learned that living without having any cheats is not as interesting and cool as I thought it to be..
No, especially because as soon as we allow ourselves have whatever we want, our minds go crazy: it seems we want everything! Unfortunately our bodies do not agree.
So live as you want, find the balance and enjoy.
P.s. I have recently checked my health… the measurements that doctors got were brilliant: all the system is working fine, I am strong and healthy. They were surprised how healthy I was/am.. So no diseases might be related to the negative experience I have described here. Only junk food…
All the best,