Imagine a day where you throw caution to the wind regarding your wellness regimen — and not just for holidays and special occasions! Health-conscious individuals who exercise regularly and eat a balanced diet may want to make cheat days a weekly practice. Here's why.
- Muscles need to repair: If your workout schedule includes lots of intense cardio or weight training, a rest day allows your muscles to recover and recuperate, setting you up for another week of workouts. Go for a massage, jump in the hot tub, or pay a visit to the sauna or steam room to help improve circulation.
- The pleasure principle: Everything in moderation is a mantra that works. If you're eating healthy and exercising, indulging with a sweet treat or a glass of wine here and there isn't going to throw you off the wellness wagon. However, if you need to harness your cravings, take a page out of trainer Harley Pasternak's playbook: schedule a cheat day. Pasternak believes cheat days keep you from feeling deprived since they give you something to look forward to.
- Combat cravings in their tracks: The 4-Hour Body author Tim Ferris labels his Saturday cheat day "Dieters Gone Wild." Taking the cheat day to the next level, Ferris gorges on all of his vices one day a week — the other six he doesn't even want to look at them. By dramatically spiking your caloric intake, Ferris thinks you can increase fat loss by ensuring your "metabolic rate doesn't down-regulate from extended caloric restriction." This approach is a little extreme, but it might work depending on your body's needs.
- Rest works: Sleeping in and staying in your pjs later than usual is good for the mind, body, and soul; I can't stress enough how important sleep is. If your body just naturally wakes up early, try going to bed earlier on a Friday or Saturday night to clock some extra hours of snoozing on the weekend. It's a great way to give yourself a kick start before the next week of work — and working out! — begins.