What are your thoughts on “cheat meals” or “cheat days”?
I get asked this question often. Let’s tease it out a little.
We’ll start by considering the definition of cheat (as found on Dictionary.com). As a verb it means to violate rules or regulations. As a noun, a cheat is someone who acts dishonestly or is a fraud. It can even refer to victimization by taking an unfair advantage over someone.
I didn’t read anything good about “cheat” in those definitions. Did you? And if you apply that to the idea of cheat meals or cheat days, then it leads you to consider that you are violating rules if you have a cheat meal. Or it would mean that when I “cheat”, then I become a fraud. That by eating “healthy” 6 days a week or 20 meals a week but “cheat” a day or a meal, then I’ve fooled you or myself along the way?
Have you figured out where this is going? I imagine you have. All things related to “cheat” are negative. And when it comes to something related to me or how I eat, I don’t need anything negative labeling me. I have enough struggle in my mind fighting off negative thoughts, comparisons, etc. I don’t need to weekly refer to myself and my eating habits in any way like I’m cheating and being a fraud.
Here’s the deal, I don’t like the term “cheat” when it comes to how I eat. (Actually, I don’t want it to describe me in any way!) If I choose to eat chicken and veggies or 2 slices of pizza, I’m going to own it. (Not become a victim of my choices as the definition may imply.) I don’t need to explain or justify it according to a “cheat”.
This goes back to what I am all about, what this blog and my programs are about. We….you and I….need to find what works for our unique body.
When we do that; when we become a detective, we learn how our bodies respond to foods. We know when we need to fight off a craving or when we can trust ourselves to have just enough to satisfy. We also know that if we’re training for a big event, say we just did a 15 mile training run, and we want pizza for dinner that night, then we can, and we should if that sounds yummy and satisfying! So if we did absolutely nothing today but still want to have ice cream at the end of the day, we can have it. And not only have it, but we can enjoy it in the process. Why do we enjoy it, because we’re owning our choices.
Can we have pizza and ice cream everyday and expect that we’ll stay fit and healthy? Probably not. But if you’re honoring your body, you’re going to learn what makes it feel good and healthy, and you’ll want to eat mostly those things. There will be room for what someone else may call a “cheat” but it will just be what sounds good and tastes good and makes you feel good at that given meal on that given day.
What is your favorite indulgence? (I love ice cream, frozen yogurt, custard, any frozen dessert….healthy or not!)
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“Because fitness is not a punishment, it’s a privilege” – Neghar Fonooni
I remember a time (in the not so distant past) that I logged calories in and calories out. Basically I would workout so I could eat. I did my morning workout, entered it into my handy dandy program, then I would plan my day accordingly based upon the calories I burned and what this program said I could have. Of course, the more I exercised, the more calories I could consume. Some days I would get off track and then I would feel I needed to add another workout just so I could eat dinner without guilt.
Have you ever been caught in this trap? Or maybe you’re in it right now? Certainly no judgement on plans where you count calories and all that, but for me, it became bondage. I couldn’t eat unless I went to the computer and logged it into my program to see if I had “earned” that food….whether it was lean chicken or dessert. I never listened to my body when it came to eating or exercise. It was all about the numbers.
Feeling pain in my hamstring signaling a strain? So what. I’ll deal with that later. I MUST log these miles, or I can’t eat today.
A piece of bread sounds good with my grilled chicken salad for dinner, but first I have to see if it fits into my macros.
Everybody is going out for ice cream after dinner, but I don’t have any calories left. Can’t eat that….not even a small vanilla cone. No Sir!
While I love running and my daily exercise, this type of “plan” was not freeing for me. I was doing multiple workouts a day not because of a special event I was training for or even for the joy of a bike ride on a nice summer day, it was all about being able to eat without guilt.
Exercise is supposed to be freeing. It’s a privilege to move our bodies and see them at work. To feel strong when we lift heavy things and feel accomplished when we cross that finish line.
Food is supposed to be for our nourishment. It is supposed to be enjoyed and savored.
I stopped logging calories. I stopped logging minutes running and riding. (This was so hard!) I began to listen to my body. (This is a hard practice too!) I focused on quality workouts over quantity. I focused on fueling my body with food that gave me energy. I also had food for pure enjoyment, but I didn’t overindulge (most of the time!).
How about you? Do you view exercise as punishment? Do you exercise so you can eat? Do you restrict calories if you don’t exercise?
Believe me, I still struggle with these tendencies. On days when I do a shorter workout or only lift or only do yoga (my emphasis on only because doing one thing is just fine!), I struggle with a bit of anxiety around eating. I have to remind myself that I’m not going to be as hungry on days my workouts aren’t as intense. I just have to listen. But I do have to fuel and be intentional on how I do it. It’s still a work in process for me. (I could write A LOT about this topic! Want to stay in the conversation, be sure you’re getting my weekly emails. I write about this and a whole lot more!)
So why not…..
Find an exercise that you truly enjoy doing?
Eat things that are beneficial for your body for strength and energy?
Be a detective and figure out how your body responds to various amounts and combinations of food and exercise and then HONOR that?
Is this something you’ve ever struggled with? Exercising to eat?
I’m reflecting on how I can experience God anywhere at anytime.
I recently had a conversation with a friend about church attendance and the presence of God. I do firmly believe that it’s important to be in a body of Christ on a regular basis. This is biblical, to gather together and to observe the Sabbath. But that’s only a part of it. I can find and be in the presence of God anytime, anywhere.
For me, early wake up and quiet time is key. I set my alarm so that I’m up before anyone else. This affords me the time to read my Bible and pray without interruption.
My early morning workout is very much a part of how I experience God. I’ve always referred to my solo runs as my holy ground. I don’t know why it seems that through exercise and outside activity it is easier to experience God or to think of Him and acknowledge His presence. I often feel that He speaks to me, not in an audible voice, but He teaches me and prompts me and shows me things when I’m out running or biking. I wonder if it’s because it’s hard to deny His creation. It’s hard to look around and not be in awe of the beauty around us. Or when we’re moving our bodies and pushing our limits, we realize how wonderfully we have been made. I don’t know why this seems to be.
Spending time with friends and family is how some experience God. The Bible tells that where two or more are gathered in His name, He is there also. It doesn’t have to be inside the four walls of a church. It can be under someone’s roof at a family gathering. When He lives in you; He goes with you.
I don’t know where or when you experience God. But I do know that no matter where we are or what we’re doing, He can be found.
It may be in the sunrise……
It may be in the solitude……
It may be on the trails……
It may be in the sound of the ocean waves……
It may be cradling your baby in the middle of the night……
It may be in the evening after everyone has gone to bed……
It may be through the laughter of your children playing in the other room……
God is everywhere. Wherever you are, He is. We just have to be aware.
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Where/when do you feel most in the presence of God?
I'm a coach and counselor for women who are tired of the gimmicks and quick fixes and ready to be free to live a fit life that is designed for her unique lifestyle. I'm also an avid yet average runner and "mom" to our local running club.
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