8 Truths About “Cheat Meals”

If you have been trying to lose weight or tone up then you have likely been a part of the discourse surrounding “cheat meals”. Do I allow a cheat meal once a week? Once a month? Do I allow a cheat meal only when I’ve reached my first milestone or goal? Do I not allow any cheat meals at all? Well, I am going to give you a few truths, some of which might be hard to take. You ready?

  1. You are not a dog. You are a human. I don’t know when we got into the habit of
    10252062_1495807727300105_1347712706819967600_nrewarding ourselves with food, but it needs to stop. It is like we’ve been training ourselves like we do our pets and using food as a reward for being good and following through with intended plans. This is not a healthy mindset to have. We should be fueling our body for energy and for nutrition, not to convince ourselves to do things that we want or need to do. We need to work on our mental strength and learn to follow through on our goals without using food as a reward system. Instead, use other incentives that appeal to you as a reward.
  2. Eating your feelings? Big no-no. Sometimes people take comfort in food and use it as an emotional crutch to help them get through tough times. This can become a never ending hamster wheel because you eat your feelings when you’re down, gain weight, get upset because you’ve gained weight, then you go eat your feelings some more to help you deal with the weight gain. This just goes on and on, believe me, I know because I’ve been there. A LOT. What I have found is that it is possible to get past this, you just have to find something else that you can do as a stress reliever and mood enhancer to replace the behaviour. For me, this happened to be exercise. Not at first, because at first it was brutal and I felt like I was dying every time I tried to do cardio, but over time I really came to love it. I started feeling more energized after workouts, I started to be in a happier mood over all because my body was producing endorphins, and it totally changed my outlook on things. Find something that takes the pressure off, and start investing yourself in that as a hobby to help you crush this nasty habit.
  3. When should you have a cheat meal, you ask? Never. For real though. Take the words “cheat meal” out of your vocabulary. Does this mean that you should never 10291702_1496869693860575_6598855432707716944_nallow yourself to enjoy foods that aren’t healthy? Absolutely not. If you want to have a piece of cake for your birthday, go for it. If you want to eat pizza at a family outing, by all means. BUT – this does not mean that it should turn into a free for all. The question is are you eating bad foods that can mess up your progress in excess or too frequently, or are you using a food tracker and incorporating the “bad” foods into your daily food journal? That is the difference. We need to change our mindset around food. We were born to live our lives, and if we love certain foods (ahem* poutine, pizza, and ice cream*) then we should still be able to enjoy them from time to time without guilt. It is all in moderation. If you know you’re going out to eat, you can plan ahead for that and modify the rest of your day to accommodate the extra calories from that meal. The key is sticking to whatever you allotted in your journal, so if you made room for 2 slices of pizza, stick with that and don’t go beyond. The point here is change the language that you use when talking about food. Just like this image above – replacing the way you word things can have a powerful influence!
  4. Stop with the guilt. So many of us get down on ourselves if we cave to temptation. This is how cheat meals turn into cheat days, cheat days turn into cheat weeks, and before you know it you’ve gained back all the weight you had lost and then some. Weight loss is a process, and there are good days and bad. One healthy meal is not going to magically make you drop 20lbs, just like one unhealthy meal is not going to make you gain 20lbs. If you make a mistake and you unexpectedly give in to temptation with food, just get out your food journal and do your best to modify the rest of your meals for the day to realign your macros. Whatever you do, don’t allow yourself to say “well screw this, I already messed up once so I may as well go all out”. We need to move ourselves away from that kind of thinking entirely. This is how we end up with eating disorders, which can be very dangerous if not dealt with quickly.
  5. Want real results? Eat clean. If you really want to lose weight, tone up, gain muscle – whatever the case may be – you really should eat as clean as possible. I found that the only way that I could stay on track was to cut out unhealthy foods entirely. Over time I was able to gradually start reintroducing chips, cake, pizza, and other not so healthy foods that I enjoy back into my life using myfitnesspal to track my macros. It was a lot harder in the beginning, I needed complete separation from those foods. It’s like the chip slogan “you can’t have just one”, because I really couldn’t reign myself in if I started snacking. When you’re just beginning a weight loss journey, you really need to give yourself time to make that mental shift about food. You need to give your taste buds time to adapt and your body time to expel all of the gunk, sugar, and chemicals from the junk you’d been consuming. After a while you will find yourself starting to really enjoy the healthier foods you’re eating, and even to crave them in place of some of your old favourites.
  6. Food is an addiction for some, so treat it as such. If you’re like me and you use food17155845_392974191072545_1614899538685597864_n to self-soothe, you need to realize that until you replace that addictive behaviour with healthy habits, you can’t feed the addiction. You should avoid going back to eating unhealthy foods in moderation until you’ve gotten to a place mentally and
    emotionally when you are able to restrict yourself to that which you’ve allotted. It takes at least 3 weeks to make or break a habit – so you should wait at least that long before trying to incorporate unhealthy things.
  7. It IS okay to say NO to junk food. One thing that I have learned upon making some positive changes to my life is that others tend to take offence to those who make such drastic lifestyle shifts. It is like they know they should make the change themselves, but they don’t want to, so they subconsciously try to sabotage you and bring you back to their level. This happens with quitting drinking, smoking, and more. It is unfair, and it makes things harder for you when you’re trying to do the right thing but your friends, family, or coworkers keep egging you on and trying to tempt you to give in.When that happens you need to establish clear boundaries and let them know that if they value you and whatever relationship you have with them, that they need to support you as you make this transformation. If they are unwilling to support you on this journey to a healthier version of yourself, then they don’t belong in your life. It really is as simple as that.
  8. If you fail – try again. Honestly, I have failed so many times when it comes to proper nutrition that it’s a wonder I haven’t given up. I’ve failed with weight loss because I allow life stresses, heartaches, ailments, hardships, and more to get in the way of my progress. I’ve probably lost upwards of 200 pounds in total with all of the yo-yoing I have done when it comes to weight loss. The thing is, I know what I am capable of when I put my mind to it, and you can do it too. It is just a matter of changing the way you think about food and use past failures as a learning experience. You haven’t failed until you’ve given up, so keep trying. Get help if you have to. Email me if you need to talk or want an accountability buddy, I am happy to help. Just don’t give up on yourself, because you are capable of much more than you know.

Changing your mindset around “cheat” foods is one of the biggest keys to success. However, I’m living proof that this is easier said than done lol. It’s a process. As I wrote this blog post, I wrote the whole first point using “we” throughout, and I debated on changing it. Upon consideration, I realized that I am writing this from the perspective of someone that knows that this is unhealthy and that the mindset needs to change, but I am also still working on making that shift myself…. for the hundredth time.

This is something that you really have to work on consistently and build it into the foundation of your life. It needs to become a lifestyle and not just a weight loss routine or some kind of temporary diet, otherwise, you doom yourself to failure. I am a constant work in progress, and I accept that!

I WILL achieve my goals, and I would love to see you do it alongside me. 

xoxo

Jess

3 Years of Health and Fitness

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In the 3 years since I have been working out and going through my transformation, I have never posted pictures of myself without a top on. Why? Because despite how far I had come, I still wasn’t happy with my progress. I’ve since come to the realization that if I am going to coach my friends, family, and others to be happy with small improvements, that I need to start drinking my own koolaid and practice what I preach.

I am far from perfect. I still have big hips and thighs, a big butt, a bit of love-handles, and some belly fat that keeps me from seeing my abs. The biggest, and arguably most important, difference between the girl from the top photos and the girl from the bottom photos is that now I am confident and happy enough with myself to post pictures featuring my face.

Unfortunately I do not have photos from when I was over 200 pounds to show the full transformation. Hindsight is 20/20, and I wish I had been brave enough to take before pictures. When I started this journey, I had already tried just about every diet tip, trick, pill, supplement, wrap, and more on the market. Nothing seemed to work, so I pulled out the old P90X and thought I would give it another go, but I had tried that and failed to stay the course many times as well. My failure to take before photos is both a testament to my lack of belief in myself that I would make it, and also a complete and utter hatred for my body and myself for letting myself go.

You’re probably thinking that in 3 years of health and fitness, I should be a lot more ripped than that. Well, you’re probably right. The problem is that I am an emotional eater, so when life throws curveballs at me, I tend to return to old habits. The past 3 years have been a total roller coaster of ups and downs when it comes to my weight loss. I had lost 60-65 pounds, then I fell off track and gained 30 back. I got myself back on track and lost those 30 pounds, bringing me back to where I was before. Then my grandfather was diagnosed with cancer, and four months later, he was gone. During the year between the diagnosis and following his passing, I totally derailed and wound up gaining 40 pounds back. Since January 2016, I have been working to lose those 40 pounds, and I am just about 5 pounds away from where I was before despite a couple of minor setbacks due to illness and life experiences.

My point in all of this essentially is this: It doesn’t matter how many times you try and you fail. What matters is how many times you try again. Nobody becomes successful at anything without failing along the way, and you can ask any expert in any field, and they will tell you the exact same thing. Failure means you are trying. You just have to know how to get back up and try again. Don’t let failure destroy everything you’ve worked towards. It is okay to take some time, but always brush yourself off and get back at it.

You are NEVER alone. Guaranteed, there are others out there struggling through the same journey that you are currently taking. I am right there with you on this journey myself, and someday I will achieve my goals. If you want help achieving yours and you are lacking the support and guidance that you need to get you there, you are more than welcome to reach out to me. I would be happy to help you out, and share information that I’ve learned along the way. Simply use the contact tab and fill out the form to send me an email directly, and I will respond as soon as I can!

Thanks for reading

xoxo

Jess

Throwback Thursday: My Transformation!

So I am 100% speechless right now… I could actually cry.

THROWBACK

I have been working SO hard for what seems like such a long time, and falling off the wagon then getting back on repeatedly. A year ago yesterday I lost my grandfather, and until January of this year, I had totally derailed and had gone back to emotional eating.

In January I recommitted, and I am now almost back down to my lowest weight since high school. I am so freaking proud of myself and how far I have come. I still have some work to do, but these pictures are proof to me that everything I am doing is beyond worth it!

If I can do it, so can you.

NEVER GIVE UP

It’s not over until you say it is.

 

5 Ways to Avoid Junk Food in the Workplace

5 Ways to Avoid Junk Food

Does your place of employment make it difficult for you to stay on your healthy eating path with regular treats and ways to cheat? Mine does!

So for now I say, “Yay for small victories!” Here’s why.

With my current place of employment, there are breakfast treats from a bakery provided every Friday. I am usually fine with that as long as I don’t go in the lunch room. Yesterday junkfood.workwas a little different though because our manager brought timbits (Canadian bite sized donuts lol… tasty little devils) and coffee. I was OK all morning until I went to refill my water bottle and saw the box. I figured the chocolate ones were gone anyway so I could just take a peek. Chocolate ones were in there. I stopped and stared like a doofus for a good 30 seconds with the devil on my shoulder telling me to take one.

I didn’t cave! I’m only two and a half weeks fully back on track with my fitness and nutrition, so I didn’t want to risk messing with my progress. Now to survive next week at work with a treat trolley, lunches being provided, suppers occasionally if you stay late etc. I think I’m in deep trouble lol.

I realized that if I am finding this to be a struggle, there must be others like me working in similar environments that are struggling with the exact same issue. I wanted to share a bit about how you can help make this process of avoidance a little easier.

Here we go!

Don’t say “I can’t have that”

Seriously! Instead of saying to yourself or to others than you can’t have something because you’re on a diet, start telling yourself and others that you “don’t want that”. If you allow yourself to think that you are restricting yourself from something that you want, it becomes a lot harder to resist. Think about how bad the treat can be for you, and how it can ruin your progress and set you off course, and think “I can have this if I want to, but do I really want to eat it?” If you think positively about the situation and say that you don’t want that because you owe it to yourself to eat clean and create a healthier life for yourself, you WILL feel better about the decision to avoid whatever tasty treat was put in front of you.

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Bring your own snacks and meals

This is a big one. Prepare your healthy meals and snacks before you go to work. If you get hungry, go eat one of the snacks or meals that you brought for yourself. If you don’t have a fridge handy and your meal needs to be kept cool (as most healthy meals would), then you can invest a small amount of money in one of the many cooler bags out there designed for health and fitness individuals. I have one, and I used it every single shift when I was working in an environment that had no fridge. Having snacks and meals readily available makes you far less likely to indulge on whatever treat your office is providing this time. If you don’t have these healthy choices available and you happen to be hungry at the time of the junk food option, you are way more likely to give in.

Avoid the area that holds the treats

For me I know to avoid the lunch room on Fridays because of the breakfast treats. If there are coffee and timbits provided, I know to avoid the table on which they are kept. If cupcakes are brought in to our daily morning meeting (which happens whenever someone in the office has a birthday), I know to leave right after the meeting to avoid seeing all of the other people munching down on the cupcakes. Don’t torture yourself by putting yourself around the foods that you crave, and instead try to avoid those areas if you can.

Celebrate the times you avoid the treats

Be really happy and proud of yourself for avoiding these office temptations! Pat yourself of the back. Join health and fitness groups and networks, and share your small little victory with others. See what I did here, I did exactly what I am telling you to do in this very blog post! When you learn to celebrate these small victories, it becomes easier and easier for you to stay strong each time an opportunity presents itself to cheat.

Get your office involved in your journey

Share what you are doing! Tell other people about your goals and what you are trying to accomplish, and ask them to please be respectful of your goals by not shoving things under your nose that can hamper your progress. Sharing your goals with others will help to keep you accountable, and it could also help you find a person to go through the journey with you. Having a partner go on the journey with you is definitely a huge advantage, because you will both help to keep one another accountable. If you’re REALLY motivated to keep on track, you could even try to get the whole office involved by doing a friendly competition. Have a little “biggest loser” competition, or have a “step counting competition”. Get the office doing something that will keep them active and guide them to a healthier lifestyle, because if you get them on board your life in the workplace will get a whole lot easier!

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Lastly, I just want to say that if you do find yourself in a position where you have “cheated” on your nutrition and your meal plan if you have one, DO NOT get mad at yourself and allow that to get in the way of your progress. So many people give in once, and then they use that as an excuse to binge for the rest of the day. “Well I already messed up once so I may as well make this a cheat day”. Don’t do it. Just don’t, please! That is a verrrrryyy slippery slope to be on you guys, and trust me, this is coming from experience because I’ve done it myself a thousand times before. A cheat meal can turn into a cheat day, and a cheat day very easily turns into a cheat weekend, which then can turn into a cheat week, and then all of a sudden before you know it… a month has gone by and you’ve barely worked out or eaten healthy, and you find yourself right back where you started having gained back some weight. If you make a slip up once, be like “that’s okay, one mistake is not going to hurt me and I can be really good for the rest of the week.” Stop yourself from being down and discouraged one one tiny mistake, and definitely don’t let that cause you to give up on your goals.

xoxo

Jess

Biggest Loser Challenge

If you follow my blog, you may already be aware of this. If you are new to my blog – Welcome! For those of you that don’t already know, I have been hosting special challenges for the people in my free health and fitness group every month for the past 3 months.

One of my Bikini Bootcamp ladies lost 29 POUNDS while she was participating in my March and April challenges. I’ve also had a lot of people tell me how much that they have been enjoying the May Step Challenge. Everyone enjoys different things, so I want to shake things up a bit again and do something a little different.

My challenges are always FREE to be a part of – however, I do expect a time and effort commitment. If I am going to invest my time and energy into coaching you, I want you to put the time and effort into yourself through your workouts and nutrition. This is for people who are SERIOUS about making a positive change in their life, and who want to take CONTROL of the direction that their life is headed.

Instead of having people do workouts that I put together, which is what I did in the bootcamps, I will be having everyone access the 30 Day Free Trial of our Beachbody On Demand platform. I am actually using this myself right now, and I am loving it. This way nobody is stuck doing any particular type of workout – you can pick and choose from hundreds of different workouts and design your own plan. If you like structure and having a set schedule to follow, you can choose to follow a particular program schedule; or you can try what we coaches like to call a “hybrid”, which is a schedule consisting of two or more different programs. That is something that we can work out together before the start date.

If this sounds like something that you would be interested in, please notify me via email at hfmxj@stu.ca with the subject line “Biggest Loser”. We will begin this challenge on June 1st, so get your name in ASAP!

I am super excited to see this through, and I can’t wait to coach you along your journey :)