Friday, January 20, 2012

Cheating.

I'm semi-cheating right now.  I'm writing my Friday blog on Thursday evening, but will wait until Friday to post it. I suppose I should refer to it as planning ahead. That sounds much better! I have plans with a friend and her family and don't want to spend my time this evening writing a post. I will try to sneak one in on Saturday and plan to post on Sunday. 

When it comes to weight loss and eating healthy, I feel that cheating can take on two forms. The are both fairly simple ideas.

There are days that you may eat something and you don't account for it. Maybe someone else will review your food journal and you don't want them to see that you ate a bag a chips and a candy bar for lunch one day. You might feel guilty because you are trying so hard to be perfect. First, you should know that no one is perfect. As long as you are eating healthy more times than not, it is okay to have a time when you eat something that's not healthy.  Just don't let it become a habit. A bag of chips and a candy bar is probably not a good lunch every day of the week.

Also, this type of cheating leads to a miscalculation in your intake.  If you feel it's okay to do this frequently, over a period of time it will only hurt you.  You're not only being dishonest with anyone else you share with, you are also being dishonest with yourself. You're cheating yourself out of a healthy life, and maybe even weight loss. My rule is that if it hits my lips, I account for it. Again, there is no such thing as perfection and I may eat something and forget to track it. The world will not end! Generally this is just something I forget so it's not a habit. I also have had times when I was away and didn't track. However, during these times I am always very mindful of what I eat. I try to scribble it in a notebook if I can't use my online tracker, but if I don't, I don't stress. More times than not, I don't go astray.

There are also entire days dedicated to cheating. People call these "cheat days." This is something that many people do when eating healthy or "on a diet." I don't like cheat days.

I think that cheating can set people up for failure. I think the point is to make people feel less guilty about not eating healthy. However, it's not teaching a healthy habit. It's teaching yourself that it's okay to eat something not so great as long as you have an excuse.  Most of us who went through times of unsuccessful weight loss attempts are pretty good at having excuses (likely calling them reasons). There is also the potential to go overboard on such days. People can eat whatever they want, with no attention paid to nutritional value, and supposedly guilt free. I couldn't do this. Working hard all week and then doing whatever one day would make me feel guilty. I'd feel guilty about the bad despite giving myself permission ahead of time.

This ties in with my dislike the idea of being on a diet. For me that thought makes me feel restricted. It makes me feel like I must behave in a certain way. I lost weight when I gave up diets when I changed my lifestyle.  A diet is generally a short-term solution. I don't know anyone who has gone on a diet forever. I wanted a long-term solution. I wanted long-term results. If I eat something unhealthy, I account for it and life goes on.

I think that cheat days could promote an obsession about food. I try not to obsess about food. If I had a Saturday cheat day, I'd be stressed out about eating healthy all week and would be living for Saturday to come. On Saturday I'd go wild. I'm not about to test this theory, but knowing me, I'm pretty sure that's what I would do. It's almost like I'd have to give myself permission to be "bad."

This could also promote sneaking food. Oh boy...This is what had something to do with weight gain for some of us. Hidden foods, eating in secret, and even hidden methods of weight loss (slim fast in the trunk, anyone? Just me? Diet pills in the glove box?).

It's better for me to have a healthy mindset at all times, knowing that everyone has a treat now and then and no one is perfect. For me this has become a healthy way of life. I don't allow cheat days in other aspects of my life. Why should what I eat be any different?

These ideas aren't for everyone. Some people might be able to have a cheat day with no problem. Maybe it's the one day they allow themselves a treat, but stay healthy other than that. I'm writing from personal experience. I'm writing what I could see happening based on my past experiences. It's important to review different weight loss methods that worked for you and that didn't. It's important to be aware of your behaviors and your attitude toward food. For most of us who have been to the point where we've been overweight, we've likely had bad habits, made excuses, and have been sneaky.

What it really comes down to his healthy behaviors toward food and eating. Changing your lifestyle isn't just about what you put into your mouth and exercise. It's about changing behaviors and attitude. As always, my opinion is that you should change your lifestyle to have success. I'm anti-diet. If you've struggled, take a look at your behaviors and what you've tried. Make changes. Truly change your life. You might be amazed at how your outlook, about many things, changes. Changing my lifestyle is honestly one of the best things I have ever done for myself. I'd recommend giving it a try.

XOXO

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