Wednesday, March 13, 2013

CHEAT DAYS or should I say TREAT DAYS?

Lately I have been hearing the phrases "cheat day" and "cheat meal." I went on a trip recently and a friend told me, "Just plan out your cheats. Make sure what you have is really worth it." A lot of major diet programs out there are now building in cheat days into their programs. I saw it on a Jenny Craig commericial. This isn't a new concept, but seems like it is talked about a lot more now, so it got me thinking.

Ever since I was little and in school I've been told not to cheat on my homework. I've been told as I grew up and got a job that it is not ok to cheat an employer out of money. Once I got married I was told not to cheat on my husband. When I started doing taxes, same thing, don't cheat. CHEATING has always been bad. Always negative. People have been expelled from school, fired from jobs, and divorced from cheating, so for me to wrap my brain around cheat days and cheat meals being positive, well, I just can't do it.

I have tried every diet in my adult life. Every diet has told me what I can and cannot eat. It has been restrictive and when I would go off plan to have a treat, the guilt would consume me, which ultimately would lead to more bad eating. The cycle was vicious.

I have worked really hard to make healthy eating and working out a lifestyle for me. Like the picture says, "I'm not on a diet. I'm eating healthy." I am making sure that every aspect of my life reflects a healthy lifestyle. That is why when I hear the word CHEAT it has negative connotations. It insinuates that I'm doing something wrong. It makes me feel like I have to be sneaky. Afterall, when you cheat, you have to be sneaky or you'll get caught. I've lived too many years eating in secret and being sneaky when it comes to my food choices.

I don't want to think that I am cheating at all. If you are living a healthy and active life there is no reason to cheat. If you want ice cream, pizza, or a hot dog at the baseball game, go ahead. Just make sure it's not the whole tub of ice cream, the whole pizza, or a hotdog, nachos, and 4 beers at the game. Make treats part of your healthy lifestyle. Incorporate them into your program. Find healthier alternatives to your favorites.

As I've mentioned in previous posts the bulk of this battle is the mental aspect. In fact, I would say that 90% of my healthy lifestyle journey has been the mental aspect. I am finally getting to a good place in my healthy lifestyle journey. Don't get me wrong, I still have my bad days, but the good is definitely outweighing the bad. I am very postive in my outlooks and will let nothing get in my way of reaching my goals, that is why I don't want, the negatives surrounding the word CHEAT to enter back into my way of thinking.

I have decided that, on my journey, I will not be cheating. I will not have cheat days or cheat meals. I will not feel bad if I have a treat every once in awhile in moderation. I think that we need to take the word CHEAT out of our vocabulary when it comes to our healthy lifestyles. If you have to call it something why not call it a TREAT DAY or a TREAT MEAL. That is a much more positive spin on it and that is excatly what you are having, a treat, something not usually in your healthy lifestyle eating plan.

A while back I was on a family trip and I had someone constantly asking me, "Is that on your diet?" "Should you be eating that?" "Why are you eating that?" In their mind I was on a diet and I must have been cheating, but we were there for a wedding and I wanted a slice of cake. My slice was smaller than everyone else's there and I didn't even finish it. I enjoyed it and moved on. I had a treat. When the person asked me, "Is that on your diet?" I looked at them and said, "I'm not on a diet." They said, "Yes, you are" and I said, "No, I'm not I'm changing my life and wedding cake is part of life." They were very irritated, but the rest of the trip they didn't ask me another question about my eating. I was glad to have the food police off my back.

If cheat days and cheat meals are part of your lifestyle I'm ok with that. I just hope that I have made you look at it in a different light. Don't cheat yourself out of a healthy life by focusing on a DIET and what your next cheat will be. Focus on how you are feeling. Focus on your relationships. Focus on how much more you can do because you can finally move for once in your life. Focus on how you can have a treat, but not eat the whole thing. Focus on how you like fruits and veggies more than processed foods. Focus on how you finally walk a little taller and finally love the person you see in the mirror. Focus on how happy you are. All of these things are much better than any cheat day or any cheat meal you could ever have.


Jenny Davidson said...

Wedding cake is definitely part of life! I thoroughly agree with you on all of this - mindful enjoyment of small treats is one of life's pleasures, and shouldn't be eliminated!

Sally Bunge said...

I agree with your blog post, and I think your suggestion of Treat Day/Meal is much better than Cheat Day. We're not cheating. We're eating sensibly. I also agree that the mental "game" is a really big part of learning how to live a healthy lifestyle. The mental battles I go through every day are mind-boggling. I'm working on learning better mental habits besides working on diet and fitness. Thanks for another great post!