Many of us in the second month of our workout program wonder if you should “allow yourself a cheat meal”. Maybe you have already gone through a program and have already made a choice about cheat meals. Let me talk with you about this decision and its consequences.
There are 2 sides to the “cheat meals” argument. One side says that a weekly cheat meal (or even a whole cheat day) is a good thing to keep you from falling off the wagon all the way and satisfying those cravings. The other side says it’s not worth it and to never cheat. Can you guess which side I’m on?? I am in the “NEVER CHEAT” camp! In a minute I’m going to tell you why.
But first, let me address some anecdotal evidence — look up any of the best Beachbody and P90X transformations in my teamRIPPED Hall of Fame and my Before/After photo gallery, and what will you find? NONE of us did cheat meals. ZERO! So the owners of the best results are all in the NO CHEAT camp. Let that soak in for a minute.
Also, can you guess how many times I’ve gotten emails from people telling me that they’ve finished their 90 days without cheating, and it’s driven them so crazy that they are going to go on an eating binge? ZERO! In fact, most people who go 90 days without cheating say that they don’t ever want to eat that disgusting junk again!
Cheat Meals can be a slippery slope.
Do you know how many emails I get from people who heard that one cheat meal every once in a while was a good idea …. so they did it … and then they had a birthday party or a wedding and decided to have a cheat day …. and then it turned into a cheat weekend … and then a cheat week … and now they are totally off the wagon, worse than where they started, and can’t find the motivation to get back on track? I GET THOSE EMAILS ALL THE TIME PEOPLE!!! CHEAT MEALS CRUSH YOUR MOMENTUM. I’m telling you because as a coach I see it every day!!!!
So let’s look past the anecdotal evidence to the real facts about cheat meals. First, just look at the consequences on your body of that cheat meal. It will load your body with crazy excess calories from primarily fat / carbs / sugar. It can take 2-3 days for your body to re-equilibrate from this “cheat meal”, you destroy your running deficit with the calories you’ve pumped into your system. That can halt your progress if you are trying to lose weight. If you had been running a good deficit, you cheat day can easily rock that average to no deficit at all! It simply isn’t worth it.
Second, consider the consequences on your mind of that cheat meal. I used to eat nothing but junk food, and I used to argue that I had a sweet tooth that others just couldn’t understand. The idea that I could go an entire year without eating ANY candy or sweets would have seemed impossible to me. Yet I’ve done it, and since I don’t indulge my sweet tooth every week, it has diminished greatly (you know the Biblical principle of starving the flesh — it really works!).
Instead of considering candy, ice cream, and cake as “treats”, I now crave fruits, my chocolate flavored protein bars, and of course my Shakeology. Since I have 6 kids at home, I didn’t have the option of cleaning out all of my cupboards, and if I were to look in my pantry right now I’d see Oreos, marshmallows, a tupperware full of Halloween candy, etc. Yet, those things (which I would have been constantly calling my name 6 years ago), don’t even look appealing. My body feels so much better now that I’ve given that junk up, I don’t even want it!!!! If I were cheating on a regular basis, that obsession would still be there.
The same goes for whatever your “obsession” is — Sweets, fried food, chips, queso, etc. If you starve that obsession, it dies! Trust me, it really does! And once it dies, then “falling off the wagon” is no longer a threat, because you have no interest in getting off the ride you are on!
This has worked for me for 6 years and counting. How does it look practically? I have 6 kids and there’s always a birthday party or something going on. I will be honest, my apatite is still childish. I still would love to crush some candy or sweets! I just work on keeping my ultimate goals in perspective.
Maybe you’ve heard the excuse that it would be rude to not eat cake at a birthday party. I’ve done exactly that and no one even notices. Just make yourself busy with serving the cake and cleaning up. Or have a shake ready to substitute! Many of my church friends joke around with me that when we have our small group fellowship they will have protein powder for me! Haha! They aren’t offended. In fact, it is a sure-fire conversation starter.
Is there a common ground with Cheat Meals?
I think this become a completely different story if the “cheat meal” tracked in your macros. In those cases, it’s not really even a cheat meal. It’s just an uncommon meal that you have had to fit into your budgets. This is what I do on “date nights” when I go out to eat at a restaurant. I know it’s coming ahead of time, and I plan accordingly to have some extra carbs or fats in my daily budget so that I can enjoy some frozen yogurt, some chips and salsa, or whatever. You still have to be careful though. Take your tracking seriously. Make sure you are actually only eating the portions your planned in your day. Don’t let 2 pieces of pizza become 4 or 6 if you have only budgeted 2!
I hope this look into how I avoid cheat meals helps you to stay committed to maximizing your results and starving those unhealthy cravings until they literally disappear. Stay strong with Halloween approaching. Don’t fall for those treats that are really tricks!
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