Published on January 1, 2018
When you cheat, it almost always means you’ve done something on the spur of the moment. You didn’t think it through. You didn’t weigh the pros, the cons. You didn’t consider how you would respond to the ramifications of your actions. And, most often, the aftermath of a “cheat” results in a person getting “caught” — paying a price of some kind . . . and sometimes, a great price.
When you plan to do something on purpose, you do think it through. You do have a plan, not only for the actions you will take but also how you plan to deal with the results of those actions. The aftermath of doing something on purpose results in one of two ways: You feel good because it worked out the way you planned; or, it didn’t work out exactly as you planned, but you learned from it. You’re ready to make some adjustments, and then get back on track.
When it comes to weight loss, and my clients in particular, I address the issue of “cheating” and “indulging on purpose” at our very first meeting. I know, without exception, that whether they have 20 pounds to lose or 120 pounds to lose, they are NOT going from over-fat to slim in a perfectly straight line.
There are restrictions when making a dietary lifestyle change. You cannot eat what you want, when you want, as much or as little as you want. Those are the habits that got you over-fat in the first place. However, you don’t have to go without an indulgence for months or years while working on getting to a healthy goal weight either.
Let me give you two scenarios. Both assume you’re doing well on your diet. You’re making good choices. You’re planning ahead for your meals and snacks; packing to make sure you have what you need with you during the day. You feel good about yourself, confident, and in control and losing weight.
You go to a party or other event, and perhaps you’ve starved all day or eaten minimally because you didn’t know what you’d find at the event and you knew you’d have to eat something. You get there, and you’re surrounded by all-you-can-eat crap and an open bar. You think,“I’ve been good, I deserve it, I’ll get back on track “tomorrow.” You “start” to pick, but the “stop” doesn’t happen because everything tastes so good.
Then, however, comes the long ride home. The taste and satisfaction of the few-minutes spurts of chewing (and/or drinking alcoholic beverages) have worn off. You feels lousy about having given in to temptation. You’re beating yourself up. Your clothes feel tight; you’re puffy and bloated.
As is almost always the case, the “tomorrow” of last night’s cheating doesn’t come. You wake up the next morning feeling lousy, physically and mentally. You don’t remember how good everything tasted the night before or how nice the alcoholic buzz felt. You only know how bad you feel now, how guilty. You’re in a funk . . . and you sure aren’t getting back on track THAT morning!
You pick a date on the calendar (perhaps there’s a special upcoming event, an anniversary, a wedding, a planned night out with the girls/boys). You mark it with a red star because you want to plan to have a couple of drinks; a slice of cake (perhaps with two forks to share with someone); a slice of pizza. You know that date is in the near future, and you’re going to be even more mindful in your planning and eating leading up to that date and, in so doing, perhaps lose another few pounds along the way.
That event comes. You know what you’ll be eating (because you went online to see menu options), and you worked backwards from that in your planning for the day. You’re in perfect control. From the moment you wake that day you eat well, every few hours, and drink water all day. Your metabolism is fed all day, your blood sugar is stable, your body is hydrated. You then follow through with your plan for the evening, enjoying every minute of it, knowing that you worked your way towards it over the past few weeks, that you’ve earned it.
Then, comes the ride home. You feel happy. You had a great time, and you can’t help thinking about how in control you were from the moment you put last night’s planned indulgence on the calendar.
You get up in the morning feeling great, feeling proud of yourself, with zero guilt about the previous night’s indulgence. You remember how great “it” tasted, and you’re right back on track. In the zone, and perhaps putting another star on the calendar for a few weeks or a month out.
Without question, you’re in a much healthier mental space in scenario #2.
Whatever we eat or drink is on our tongues only for a few minutes (or a few seconds, in some cases). Think about that. So, if you have weight to lose (or maintain), remember that for a very few minutes of chewing and giving your buds a taste, you can either:
1. Cheat at the spur of the moment, setting yourself back emotionally, and physically, not only because you will feel so badly having done so, but also because you will probably have to spend another week or two digging yourself out of a 2 pound (or more) weight gain to get back to where you were before the cheat; or,
2. Plan to indulge on purpose, planning ahead to do so. Having worked towards that event, probably losing a few pounds leading up to it, you don’t care at all what the scale says the following morning. You’re happy, and you’re right back on track.
So, whether you’re in the weight loss or weight maintenance modes, you do have a choice between cheating and a planned indulgence. When you plan, you know when to apply the brakes. When you don’t, you’re bound to go off the tracks.