Work and Reward. Why ‘Cheat days’ are important in the psychology of staying disciplined.

If you work 9-5 Monday to Friday it is a good idea to get into habit of  really enjoying your weekend by letting loose.  I regard my weekend as a mini ‘healing process’.  In a way, we are all kind of conditioned to enjoy our weekends (in a Pavlovian kind of way).  So why not make the most of them!

We all work hard during the week,  which is why the weekend should be as pleasurable an experience as possible.  A release from the mundanity (and possible stress) of the weekday routine, and an explosion of free time.

Personally,  I am strict with myself as to what I eat on ‘work days’.  Most days I  tend to go for high fibre vegetables with lean protein (fish/turkey/chicken/eggs) for my nightly meal.  I know roughly the fibre/carb/protein/fat intake I am getting from one of the several meals I tend to use in heavy rotation.  Don’t get me wrong,  I do enjoy this food, but it can get quite boring at times, even when you spice it up with little tricks such as corriander and lemon juice (amongst other spices)… Cue the weekend!

As with most of us, the weekly respite from work can lead to overindulgences, such as overeating.  Funnily enough though, this is actually a good thing.  The human body is highly adaptable to external influences, and will change your metabolism level based on what you’re consuming.  This means that if you overeat at the weekend (which you should try and keep to one day a week, but 2 is OK if you don’t want to lose weight as aggressively) you stop your body from shifting to a lower metabolism rate.  (Which happens when you restrict calories as your body senses it is going to need to conserve resources).

The point of this post is to show you that you can actually enjoy your food while staying healthy and losing weight.  I love the fact that you can actually look forward to your day of excess, and use it as a reward for being good during the week.  Personally this ensures that I never get bored, and many times I have found myself inadvertantly planning what I’m going to overfeed on just as much as I obsess over the healthier options during the week!!

So, in a nutshell, here we go.

6 days a week:  Try to stay away from white carbs such as white bread, as although they are technically complex carbs (starch etc), they are actually much closer to simple ones, and will act very much like sugar once inside the body.  Most other foods are fine.  But try to stick to the more nutrient dense healthier options such as broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, beans, lentils, and lean protein.  Also try to stick to good old water when drinking fluids.  But if you must drink caffeine, try to make the coffee black.  I also like to drink green tea with a small touch of honey, which is better than sugar as it actually has some desirable nutrients (other than calories).  You want to feel like your body is cleaning itself… This in itself has many positive psychological effects I have found.  For example, feeling ‘clean inside’ can help to give you more physical energy.

Cheat day, (or cheat weekend every once in a  while):  Eat what you like!  Literally anything.  You want to feel as though you have had a ‘good feed’.  This is as much a psychological ‘letting loose/release’ as it is a physical trick to keep your metabolism running in high gear.

It really is as simple as that.  Simply try to get into a routine of work vs reward, and as long as you keep your weekly calorie intake in negative equity, you will certainly lose weight.


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