I cheat. Not a cloak-and-dagger, back-alley cheat, but an in-your-face, let-the-world-see-me cheat. When I cheat, I copiously surrender to my heart’s desires and immure any rational restraint behind a passionate barrier of, “I don’t give a f@#k!” This includes disregard for how horrible I will feel the next day, centering deep in the pit of my guts, excreting out through every pore of my being. Absent regret, I forget the previous events and anticipate my next conquest. Heaven forgive if I go out of town and my inhibitions are eradicated. Ultimately, I own my actions, am proud of what I did and feel good about who I am.
In the world of health and wellness, centering on fitness and nutrition, cheating on your diet is celebrated.
When we eat something we know we shouldn’t and skip a workout when we need it, we’re human ― because at the end of the day that’s all we are. Physical strength derives from mental and emotional fitness. Have you ever crate-trained a puppy? What happens when you let it out after being gone all day? We experience the same unbridled release of energy when we are too restrained in our self-discipline. If we’re not happy, if we don’t love it, then it’s not worth it. We need to find another way. We need to find another reason.
The extreme regiments of “Diet Nazis” inevitably lead to weight gain, irritability and demoralization to ever attempt nutritional changes again. If we remain dedicated to our health all week, then a night of indulgence will not unravel any progress. Allowing cheats will maintain sanity, dedication and increase fat loss. Yes, a well-planned cheat meal will increase our metabolism and replenish glycogen reserves to burn additional calories and restore energy. The leaner we become and the more active we are, the more we NEED to cheat. Motivated yet?
Cheater’s diets vary as do nutrition plans. Aside from the weekend indulger, there is also the 90/10, 80/20 or 20:1, 30:1 eating. The first option requires clean eating 80 to 90 percent of the time and cheats the remaining 10 to 20 percent. The second structures meals with one cheat meal for every 20 to 30 clean meals. Deciding which to attempt depends on one’s body type, lifestyle and goals. As with fitness and nutrition, we try them all, monitor the results and choose the one we love.
This is not an endorsement to binge. Be reasonable. If we know that we are sensitive to gluten or dairy, then we should still avoid such ingredients. Junk food is still junk. Even with cheat meals, there are quality choices worth craving. Leniency is encouraged, but portion control is still exercised. We don’t need to hurt ourselves getting “chocolate wasted.”
A few weekends ago, I was honored to witness a close friend’s wedding in Chicago. Two bottles of tequila and a box of donuts later, we all returned home worn out but completely satisfied and effortlessly happy. I can still stretch past my toes, row 500 meters in 90 seconds and hold a plank for more than five minutes. Cheat meal is a misnomer; it’s required for great health and wellness. The next wedding is in three weeks, and I plan to “out-cheat” my Chicago efforts. Never refuse wedding or birthday cake. That’s just rude.