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Perseverance.  Focus.  Endurance.

 
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, (2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.)
        Hebrews 12:1-2
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Blog Archives - 2012
Is it Okay to Cheat?

I know you've all heard how good rest days are for your body and how crucial they are to maintaining physical fitness, but what about cheat days? Way too many people associate cheat days with failure, thinking that if they stray from their diet it means they've completely fallen off the wagon. That's not the case here. While taking an entire day off of your diet can cause some problems (sugar cravings, carb cravings, GI disruption, feeling like a loser) it's okay to have one or two less-than-healthy items on a designated day of the week. Having a cheat day does a lot more than you think. Physically, you rev your metabolism with the extra carbs, sugar, or fats that you're eating "unexpectedly." Mentally, you're satisfying that little voice in your head pleading with you to eat that 300 calorie piece of chocolate cake by replacing it with something a little less horrific. Or maybe you'll eat the cake, no big deal, it is a cheat day after all.


But how much is too much? Many people have come to me claiming that this whole cheat day thing wasn't working out for them. When I asked why they thought that was, I got the same answer every time, "I just couldn't stop eating!" That's a common issue people have with diets in general. After a period of time depriving themselves of a certain food, they either completely disregard the food or begin to crave it even more. Sadly, most of the time it's the latter of the two. If you have a pretty healthy diet but find yourself being tempted with sugary, fatty, carb-filled foods, you're probably lacking something in that "foolproof" diet of yours. Remember that BALANCE is key to any good diet. Another key word is MODERATION. On cheat days, for instance, it's fine to have that scrumptious-looking piece of chocolate cake that's calling your name, but after that, you need to draw the line. Having a cheat day isn't about totally kicking your diet to the side and gorging on junk. What it is about is having that (insert food here) in moderation. Maybe you want to have both the chocolate cake AND the ice cream. Okay, well here's a solution: Halve that piece of cake and take half of that serving of ice cream and you're set. You're cutting out half the calories & sugar you normally would have taken in without realizing it. Just don't overdo it.


Let me tell you about my personal diet. Actually, it's really not a diet. Every meal consists of a carb, a fat, and a protein. Breakfast is an egg, oatmeal or fruit, a green smoothie (totally optional, I drink it for the nutrients), and a fat like yoghurt or full-fat cream in my coffee. That's the usual standard I place for my meals. Lunches and suppers consist of the same protein-fat-carb (I'll refer to that as "PFC" from now on) meal plan. Yes, I do have snacks, I love food, so naturally I'll be snacking on something whenever I get peckish, always following that PFC rule. Here's the thing though, I do not in any way, shape, or form have a perfect diet. Not even close. No way Jose. Sometimes I really want ice cream. Other times I'll want to dig into the cheesecake my sweet self-proclaimed 'grandmother' always brings over. I even crave chocolate. Shocker, right? (I really hope you noted my sarcasm) How do I fight off these stupid cravings that threaten the very existence of my "practice what you preach" standard? I eat. Didn't expect that did you? You probably wanted to hear the secret to a perfect diet. I'm here to disappoint you. There is no secret. There is no such thing as a perfect diet. I don't know what kind of world you're living in. If I want that cheesecake I'm gonna have it. But here's the catch. If I eat that, I redeem my "cheat card" for the week. That day becomes my cheat day. The reverse psychology (it's really self-psychology) of this is that it makes you think about something else you've been craving, and you're mind says, "Hey now, what if I want the German chocolate that my aunt sent me last week? I'm gonna wait until I can have that." Or something along those lines. You're gonna want to wait for the stuff you really want, the good stuff (no, not drugs, that's way too expensive).


So what's the verdict? It's perfectly fine to have cheat days; in fact, I encourage it. It's just a matter of not going overboard with your cravings. My cheat day was today. I had a scone from Starbucks and a caramel latte. And that was the extent of my "junk food rampage." Any good workout regimen includes cheat days, all other arguments are invalid. Cheat days and rest days certainly can be on the same day, but the next day it's always a good idea to go hard and 'redeem' yourself. Don't stress about your diet! Just remember that balance and moderation are both key to a healthy lifestyle & mentality.


Happy Trails!

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