So I’ve always known days or meals where you indulge in foods that aren’t necessarily healthy as cheat days or cheat meals.
But recently there has been a lot of talk about whether or not “cheat” is really the proper word to describe the meal or day.
CHEAT implies that you are doing something wrong…something bad…something breaking from what you shouldn’t be doing.
There can be a negative connotation to calling a day or meal a “CHEAT.”
So I’ve heard some people call it a TREAT meal instead.
But personally, TREAT almost bothers me even more. You aren’t a dog…You don’t need a treat for eating well. Eating well is what you should be doing.
Both can really imply, in a way, that eating well isn’t really all that fun, tasty or enjoyable.
Which honestly really isn’t the case.
Healthy food can be delicious. And it not only makes you feel good but helps your body and mind truly run well.
BUT as good as healthy food is and as great as you really do feel when you eat well…there are just times you want to indulge even if that means your belly is going to grumble a bit the next day.
Like for me, a vacation isn’t a vacation if I’m worried about finding something healthy on the menu – If I’m more worried about eating well than on trying new things.
Cheat days, treat days, whatever you call them, are about more than eating bad food. They aren’t even about indulging in things you are “deprived off” otherwise.
They are more about a mental release and enjoying something in life that you don’t necessarily get to do every day.
Maybe a more apt description of cheat days is VACATION.
I mean think about it…Why do you take vacation?
Because you need a break. You need a break from routine. A break from exercising self-control day in and day out. Because you need both a mental and physical rest.
A VACATION is a chance to recharge!
For me…a “cheat day” is exactly that…a chance to re-charge.
It is a mini vacation from self-control and it can mean a ton of different things.
It isn’t always about eating food that is bad for me. I mean sometimes it is…Sometimes it is indulging in those nachos because they just take so good and I really really love food. Sometimes it is getting to try new foods when I’m on vacation and really let go.
But most importantly it is about relaxing and enjoying be it nachos or simply a glass of wine. It is about enjoying something and taking a mini vacation from the normal routine.
It is about “cheating” for the sake of cheating. It isn’t about eating something bad just because it is there or because I’ve had a bad day or because someone else pressures me.
It is about doing something, eating something, that I enjoy because I WANT it.
A big part of making a healthy diet into a lifestyle is about also realizing that you don’t have to be perfect all the time.
You need vacations from work…from family…from daily life…
So why wouldn’t you need a vacation from eating well or working out every once in a while?
We need chances to recharge and indulge be it a glass of wine and dark chocolate, a piece of bread with butter or a whole pizza and pint of ice cream. Shoot maybe it isn’t even eating something unhealthy…Sometimes it is just about telling yourself that you can do WHATEVER that day IF you end up really craving something.
Sometimes you just need a break from your daily habits because those daily habits do wear down your self-control no matter how ingrained they seemed to be.
So whatever your cheat/treat/indulgence/splurge/break/vacation/(whatever you call the snack, meal or day) is, make sure it is something you are going to enjoy to the fullest without guilt.
Do you include a “cheat” something into your daily, weekly or monthly diet plan? What do you prefer to call that “treat?”
So I love the fitness community that I’ve fallen into out here in Cali.
There are so many people to learn from.
There are so many people out here experimenting and trying new things.
And some of those new experiments are amazing…while others…well…not so much.
But the point isn’t whether or not their experiments are always right.
The point is that they are experimenting!
And many of these experiments aren’t ground-breaking. Many are with simple tools that have cycled in and out of the industry over the years.
Many of these experiments are simply a new SPIN on things.
Because let’s face it…there really aren’t that many NEW ideas – ideas that NO ONE ELSE out there have ever had before.
BUT there are a lot of different new takes on the same old ideas – there are a lot of people out there putting a new SPIN on things.
Because that new SPIN is what makes all the difference.
That SPIN is what creates the perfect diet/exercise/healthy lifestyle FOR YOU!
But it isn’t simply a question of arriving at your own spin.
There are clear steps you need to take to turn something someone else does into something perfect for you.
The first step is to LEARN.
Learn about a diet and exercise program that you think may be good for you. Research that program that made your friend super fit. Find out how they did it. Find out all the details. Read about other people’s experiences. LEARN ABOUT IT.
Then you must DO the diet/exercise/lifestyle program.
And when I say DO I mean do it EXACTLY the way it was laid out. If you want to know if something will work, you have to actually give it a chance to prove if it can work. And the only way a program can prove it works is if you actually do it the way it was laid out.
You can’t do a Primal diet and then eat pasta every day and then three weeks in claim it doesn’t work.
I’m all for making your own adaptations to things, BUT only after you’ve done an experiment following the rules exactly as they were laid out by the people who created, and achieved success!, by following the program.
If you DO a program the exact way it was laid out, you will find out if it is something that will bring you success. You will find out if it is something you enjoy. If it is something you could commit to on a long-term basis.
After you’ve done the program, you’ve got to decide.
Will you accept or reject the program? What parts did you like? What parts didn’t you like?
Did you see results?
After any experiment, after trying any program, you’ve got to ask yourself these questions.
You’ve got to DECIDE for yourself whether or not the program was a success.
You can’t listen to your friend tell you how great the program was. You can’t be swayed by all of the positive reviews. You can’t let Dr. Oz or Jillian Michaels or any of those famous people tell you what program is right for you.
After you’ve, RESEARCHED and TRIED something, you’ve got to make an educated decision based on your experience.
Are you going to stick with the program? And if you are going to keep doing it, then how are you going to make it perfect for you?
So now that you’ve learned, done and decided, what’s YOUR SPIN?
No one else can tell you exactly what will work for you. Others can guide you and make recommendations, but sorry…you should know yourself best.
And the more you experiment and do things other people’s ways, the more you actually WILL learn about yourself.
You will figure out what types of workouts you enjoy the most. You will figure out what time of day is easiest for you to workout at and stay committed to.
You will figure out if low carb/high carb/vegetarian/WHATEVER is right for you.
You will figure out if you stay more committed to a program if you can easily prep all meals for the week ahead of time or if it is easiest for you to cook single portions the day of.
Through doing things other people’s ways, you will figure out what works best for you.
Just remember though, it is up to you to put your spin on a program to make it completely personalized for you…No one else can do it for you!
So if you want the perfect healthy lifestyle for you – Learn, Do, Decide, and SPIN!
So often we talk about losing weight/being healthy/getting stronger/being in shape in terms of the diet and exercise program that we need to follow to achieve our health and fitness goals.
Depending on your specific goal, you may even be told that diet is 80% of the battle.
But is it really that simple?
Are diet and exercise really the main players in the healthy equation?
Yes, if you follow a well-developed diet and exercise program, you most likely will hit a lot of your health and fitness goals.
BUT, these goals may be more easily realized AND easier to maintain IF you get some of the other pieces of the puzzle in order.
The amount of stress you have and the amount of sleep you get both affect your hormone levels, appetite and level of fatigue.
Too little sleep and too much stress can cause your body to not only try to hold on to fat, but also to feel hungry and overeat.
Holding on to fat!?! Overeating and feeling hungry when you really aren’t!?!
HMMMM…Maybe sleep and stress need to be a part of our program…..
And not only can too little sleep and too much stress cause you to hold onto fat and overeat, but both can also make you feel fatigued which can lead to crappy and/or skipped workouts!
Sound familiar? Skipped a few workouts recently or have you seen your numbers slowly declining even though you KNOW you aren’t overtraining?
Maybe you aren’t getting enough sleep OR maybe your body is just too stressed!
And if all of this wasn’t bad enough…let’s face it….they both also really affect your self-control.
Tired? Stressed? Where do most people turn for comfort?
And usually BAD food.
That doesn’t sound very good for your health and fitness goals…
So maybe diet and exercise aren’t enough on their own. Maybe you do need to consider your sleep and stress levels.
I’m not saying to change jobs to lessen your stress level. BUT it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t start to plan in some “me time” to help you unwind every once in a while so that you don’t turn to food.
I’m not saying to start sleeping in and going in late to work, but every once in a while maybe try to take a nap or sleep in instead of forcing in that extra hour of work that realistically you COULD do at some other time. If you really do create a time management schedule, you may just find you DO have more time that you could use for sleep than you originally thought!
Anyway, sleep and stress ARE two other things you should consider when trying to create a healthy lifestyle. Diet and exercise AREN’T the only pieces to the puzzle.
When most people go on a “diet,” they usually want to lose weight or look good at a specific time in their life. Most of the time there is an end date in which they must accomplish this goal. And after this end date, usually people plan on returning to their previous eating habits.
A lifestyle has no end date. Yes, you may have short-term goals – events that you want to look good for. Yes, you may start a lifestyle because you want to lose weight.
But unlike a diet, you aren’t going to go back to your old eating habits once you’ve reached your goal.
Yes, you are going to cheat. Heck cheating will probably even be a part of your lifestyle. BUT you will cheat on your terms and always return back to your healthy lifestyle.
Making a “diet” into a “lifestyle” means that you don’t just give up your healthy eating habits at the first sign of adversity.
It means sometimes not cheating while everyone else is indulging.
A prime example of this is Ryan’s dad who started a version of the Man Bicep diet a little over two months ago.
Ryan’s dad started the diet so he would be healthy and active when his first grandchild is born in August (Congrats Jamie!!!). He has lost over 20lbs and has increased his energy level.
While he would still like to lose more, Ryan’s dad has basically accomplished what he set out to do – he feels better than he has felt in YEARS.
And because this is more than a DIET, because this is a LIFESTYLE, Ryan’s dad has stayed committed even though he could be tempted to eat badly every day!
His co-workers invite him to eat out almost every day. And when he goes out, he could cheat. It would be easier. But he doesn’t. He sticks to his healthy eating habits.
He could cheat every time he has to make food for parties for his children and their friends. He could have cheated the entire time Ryan and I were out in California.
But he didn’t.
He doesn’t cheat at every opportunity because his healthy eating is about MORE than losing weight – it is about being HEALTHIER and FEELING BETTER.
And I’m so proud of Ryan’s dad. Not because he didn’t cheat, but because he truly has created a new, healthy lifestyle for himself.
So now take another look at your eating. Are you eating well with an end date in mind or will you forever stay committed to your healthy lifestyle because it has improved your quality of life?
If your eating hasn’t improved your quality of life, is it really worth continuing or should you start experimenting with other diets?
Is your eating program merely a diet or is it a lifestyle?
P.S. If you’ve emailed me and I haven’t responded, I’M SORRY! I will get to emails this weekend!
Rebeca…this post is for you!
So you’ve gotten into a great rhythm. You’re eating well and going to the gym numerous times a week. You are so in the groove that it isn’t a challenge to keep your healthy lifestyle going – it has become a habit.
But then, you go on vacation.
And when you come back, your rhythm is gone.
You can’t drag yourself into the gym and you’re not sure you even know what healthy foods look like anymore. You’ve undone the habit in a quarter of the time it took you to create it.
So how do you get back on track?
It is by no means easy, but you did it once before and you can do it again! Remember that!
Also, remember that the quicker you get right back into it after vacation, the easier it will be. The longer you wait, the more you will regress. Just think about how hard you worked to make all that progress in the first place! You don’t want to lose it all!
I know how hard it can be to get back into the groove. When I come back from vacation feeling like a slug from bad food and inactivity, I don’t want to workout or eat well. But I remind myself of how great I feel once I start…and how crappy I feel when I continue my sluggish ways.
It’s all about the mindset! Your mind is the strongest muscle in your body so use it to push yourself to get right back into healthy habits!
For more great tips, check out my post about how to change your lifestyle and stick with it!
If you need more motivation to get back into working out and eating well after a vacation, email me. I’ll keep harassing you until you do!
You’ve been warned Rebeca!