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Friday, February 3, 2012

Cheat meals vs. cheat days: Part II


In my first post about cheat meals, I discussed my reasons for including them in my weight-loss journey: Cheat meals vs. cheat days:  Part I

In this post, I want to talk bout how I've made cheat meals - sometimes totaling over 2000 calories for one meal! - work for me.


When I decided to lose weight, I was totally "Gung-ho" about the process... cutting my calories, eliminating as much sugar and salt in my diet, over exercising, upping my good carbs, cutting the bad carbs, watching my fat intake, etc.  Sure, this worked for the first couple of months but I started to realize there was no way I could keep this up for life... it's no way to live!

Instead, I needed to find a balance.

For me, that balance came in the form of allowing myself one cheat meal a week.

Like my last post, I want to emphasize it's a cheat MEAL, not a cheat DAY, okay?  Moving on...

Here's what works for me to avoid a full-out cheat DAY:
  • Don't deprive yourself of anything - Not just during cheat meals, but throughout the week.  I'm human.  I have cravings for pizza and ice cream and if I feel like I really want it, I'll have some even if it's not a cheat meal. I found out the hard way that when I deprive myself of anything, it creates an out of control cheat DAY... that takes a couple of weeks to recover from.  So not worth it.
  • Save your cheat meal for the end of the day - I know special occasions happen anytime of the day, but if you're planing your own cheat meal, try to make it the last meal of the day to avoid feeling guilty and turning your cheat meal into a cheat day. 
  • Portion control - Pretty self explanatory but you can still lose weight and eat ANYTHING during a cheat meal if you watch your portions.  Just because it's a cheat meal, doesn't mean you go bat-s**t crazy eating two gallons of ice cream!
  • Fail to plan, you plan to fail - Plan ahead if you know you'll be eating a lot.  Whether that's keeping your nutrition extra tight for the other meals during the week or if that means you putting in an extra 15 minutes of exercise each day, having a plan will lessen the blow of the cheat meal.
  • Adjust your workout routine - And I'm not just talking about adding in more exercise minutes, I mean move your cardio and weight-training days around.  If I know a big cheat meal is coming up - um, hello, Super Bowl - I adjust my workouts to include weight-lifting days before and after the day the cheat meal will happen.  Why?  The cheat meal will feed my exhausted muscles from the previous day and it will refill my glycogen stores for a super pumped weight workout the next day.
  • Remember what your goals are - Again, a pretty simple one.  Even though I allow myself a cheat meal a week, it doesn't mean I always eat it.  If my nutrition wasn't great and my workouts lacked my normal energy - or the complete opposite, and I had stellar nutrition and AWESOME workouts - I'll choose to skip the cheat meal for the week because it's not worth it. 
Of course this might not work for everyone but it's things I do to keep my cheat MEAL a MEAL and not a DAY.

Have a great weekend.  Don't forget why you're on this journey while the big game is playing this Sunday.
Eye on the prize!

5 comments:

Dagny said...

It's interesting how the "cheat meal" concept has evolved like the old school kid's game of Telephone. It originated in the bodybuilding world where people follow such ruthlessly brutal regimens that their bodies need shock and disruption to manage the effects of adaptation. Outside of bodybuilding, people have decided it's about addressing their perceived needs for indulgences.

I don't let my clients do it because #1 actually PLANNING to "cheat" is counterproductive in itself and second, much worse, it perpetuates the concepts of food as "cheat" or "reward." For my clients who have deeply-ingrained trigger food habits to dismantle, the "cheat meal" would be a step backward.

Dagny, NASM CPT

deanna said...

I love this concept. I don't like cheating so I will call it my high calorie meal... I have been reading quite a bit about that lately and it seems it is a great idea. One meal a week that is not low in anything!

Maren said...

I absolutely love this! I feel like people are so negative to these indulgent meals (not days), but that is seriously what got me to where I am now, and what will make me complete this journey.

Beth @ Kitchen Minions said...

This makes sense, thanks for sharing! Also, I tagged you on my blog today!

Stormy@Big Butt Theory said...

I need to think about maybe incorporating this. I would do better to not feel deprived of anything.