Published on July 5, 2022
With perhaps the one exception of “cheating” death, the word “cheat” can just never be used in a positive way.
Cheating on your spouse isn’t good.Cheating on your business partner isn’t good.Cheating on your taxes isn’t good.Cheating a customer by padding your bill isn’t good.Cheating on an exam isn’t good.Cheating a long line at a movie theater isn’t good.
You get the point.
. . . and when it comes to weight loss, that word “cheat” is especially not good because, for most people, most of the time a “cheat” sets them up for a bad spell or, worse: a point of no return.
In my office, I understand this. I address it at the initial consultation with a client, and reinforce many times throughout their tenure with me, because I know that without exception people who have weight to lose aren’t going to go from overweight or obese to a healthy slim in a straight line. I also know, again based on my experience, that when I meet overweight/obese people for the first time, most if not all of whom have tried countless times to lose weight, they are anxious about another word: NEVER — that they’ll never be able to have a drink; that they’ll never be able to have a slice of pizza or a piece of cheese cake, etc. and so forth. Not true. Would it be wonderful if someone had the strength, the fortitude, the stick-to-itiveness to get to a healthy goal without interruption in a perfectly straight line? Of course . . . but it’s not reality.
In weight loss, and I know this from personal experience, there will be mistakes along the way, some by accident and some on purpose, but there’s a huge difference between a “cheat” and “a planned indulgence.” I encourage the latter for our clients’ consideration and for anyone who has weight to lose. Here’s why:
Scenario #1 – Jane is doing well on her diet, making good choices, planning ahead for meals and snacks, feeling good about herself, feeling confident and in control. She hasn’t eaten anything off-plan for a long time, and she’s happily losing weight. Then, while at a party or other event, surrounded by a smorgasbord of all-you-can-eat crap and an open bar, and with the rationale, “I’ve been good, I deserve it, I’ll get back on track tomorrow,” she starts to pick . . . and the key word here is “start.” The stop doesn’t happen for a while. She’s licking her chops, it sure tastes good . . . for a little while anyway.
Those few-minutes spurts of chewing (and/or drinking alcoholic beverages) are followed by the long ride home. The taste has worn off. She feels lousy about what she did, having given in to temptation. She’s beating herself up as to why she did it. Her clothes feel tighter because she’s puffy and bloated. And, of course, the “tomorrow” doesn’t come.
She wakes up the next morning feeling lousy, physically and mentally. She doesn’t remember how good “it” tasted the night before or how nice the alcoholic buzz felt. She only knows how bad she still feels. She feels guilty. She’s in a funk . . . and she sure ISN’T getting back on track THAT morning!
Scenario #2 – Jane is doing well on her diet, making good choices, planning ahead for meals and snacks, feeling good about herself, feeling confident and in control. She hasn’t eaten anything off-plan for a long time, and she’s happily losing weight. She picks a date on her calendar (perhaps she knows in advance she has a special event, an anniversary dinner, a wedding, a planned night out with the girls, etc.), marks it with a red star as her night to have a planned indulgence of something: a couple of drinks; a slice of cheesecake, perhaps with two forks to share with her spouse or friend; a slice of pizza. She’s already doing well but, now that she knows that date is in the near distance, she’s going to be even more mindful in her planning and eating leading up to that date and, in so doing, perhaps lose another few pounds along the way.
That event comes. Instead of the “old Jane,” who would starve an entire day or eat sparingly leading up to a special event because she was afraid of what she would find at that event, Jane has planned the whole day leading up to it and is in perfect control. Knowing what she would have at this event (because she went online to see the menu options), she worked backwards from that in her planning. From the moment she wakes up that day, she eats well every few hours, and drinks water all day. Her metabolism is fed all day, her blood sugar is stable all day, her body is hydrated all day. She follows through with her plan for the evening, enjoys every minute of it, knowing that she worked her way towards it, that she earned it.
This Jane gets in the car and on the ride home is really happy. She’s had a great time, great conversation, and is thinking about how in control she was from the moment she put that night’s planned indulgence on the calendar.
This Jane gets up in the morning feeling great, feeling proud of herself, and has zero guilt about the previous night’s indulgence. She remembers clearly how great ‘it’ tasted, and this Jane is right back on track. In the zone. This Jane is putting another star on the calendar for, say, Saturday night 3 or 4 weeks out or holding off a little longer for her vacation that’s coming up in two months where she knows she’ll want to indulge a couple of times during that week.
As you can see, Jane #2 is in a much healthier “head” space. (Tarzan likes this Jane!)
Taste buds are sensory organs that are found on your tongue and allow you to experience tastes that are sweet, salty, sour, and bitter. While you’re chewing, the food releases chemicals that immediately travel up into your nose. These chemicals trigger the olfactory receptors inside the nose.They work together with your taste buds to create the true flavor of that yummy slice of pizza or creamy slice of cheese cake by telling the brain all about it!
If you have weight to lose, remember that whatever it is you’re eating or drinking is on your tongue only for a few minutes (or a few seconds, in some cases). Think about that. So, for a few minutes of chewing and giving your buds a taste, you’ve either:
. . . (as in Scenario 1) set yourself back emotionally, and physically, not only because you felt so badly but also because you probably had 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,
. . . (as in Scenario 2) this is how you always do it, planning ahead to treat yourself, and you either had no weight gain or, because you knew that date was coming and lost another few pounds leading up to it, you don’t care at all what the scale said the following morning. You’re happy, and you’re right back on track.
So, whether you’re in the weight loss mode, or the weight maintenance mode, there’s a tremendous difference between cheating and planning to indulge. Cheating is something you should never do. Indulging is something you should certainly feel good about planning to do. In any one of those cases — weight loss mode, weight maintenance mode, or indulging — if you don’t have a plan for the train every day, you’re bound to go off the tracks.