Cheat days are an essential part of (American) society. Where would we be without the thought of throwing everything to the wind for one day and enjoying all the 'bad' things life has to offer us... in gluttonous fashion? There is something deeply ingrained in us that yarns for these moments. As we all know, balance is the key to living a successful life. Too far in any one directions causes losses on the other end. So while it is important to build healthy habits, it is also equally important to break these habits.
On Thanksgiving we say, 'yes please' to all sorts of things we normally try to avoid. Sugar, fat, salt, alcohol, and even uncomfortable political discussions with family.
You will see 100 physical therapy, nutrition and fitness blogs circulating today telling you how to still maintain some degree of a healthy standard on Thanksgiving. I could tell you all sorts of tricks to minimize stiffness, tightness, fatigue, low calorie alternatives and so on. But that would go against the very essence of a 'Cheat Day'. No, I say double down on the indulgence! (And it's not because I want more business from you needing to come in to the clinic the next week.)
A Cheat Day Is Like Vacation For Your Body
Think about it this way, when you go on vacation, you come back feeling like a million bucks because your brain was exposed to an atmosphere completely unrelated to normal life. Plus, it was circumstances that you CHOOSE to do, not that you NEEDED to do. The more time spent in this state, the more you are re-wiring your circuitry, diverting nerve impulses away from the stress inducing part of the brain, and more towards the enjoyment dopamine releasing part. Thus, when you go back to your normal routine, you have some positive carryover to that new circuitry.
From a Healthy Eating Standpoint
A cheat day is the same type of vacation. You have been trying to eat good and whether you have been successful or not at it, your brain has been constantly spending energy trying to do so. Which is where the fatigue comes in, actually hindering success. By taking a break, it can reenergize that journey for you.
In fact it can actually kickstart your metabolism in case you were experiencing a slowdown, helping you in the long term. From a metabolic standpoint, your body actually starts hanging on to bodyfat and sugars when it notices you are restricting them. A cheat day essentially let's your body's guard down so you can ramp up again and be more successful.
From an Aches & Pains Standpoint
It is not uncommon that I have a skyline physical therapy patient come back to me after a holiday telling me, somehow they feel better. They can't figure out why because all they did was sit and eat and not do their exercises. The reason for this is because so often it is your normal daily habits and positioning that keep you in a state of pain. So, if you feel better after a holiday, it is generally your body letting you know that it's time to focus more on your positioning during these routines.
Well there you have it, a full justification for doubling down on your cheat day. Happy Thanksgiving from Wyckoff, New Jersey!
If you notice that you are in less pain after Thanksgiving, Contact Us at Skyline Physical Therapy located in Wyckoff, NJ for our Ergonomics Assessment, where we come to you and figure out the optimal setup.