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

How to Stay Motivated!

I know how hard it can be to stay on track with a health and fitness journey, and I have fallen off the wagon many times myself. It is HARD. If it were easy, everyone would be doing. It isn’t impossible though, and you just have to decide that you’re going to do this so that you can create a better life for yourself and those around you. You DESERVE to be healthy, happy, and confident! I found this photo online, and I thought that it was a great little tip for anyone trying to keep themselves on track with a health and fitness journey. It is also a great place to start if you’re thinking about making these positive life changes, because it allows you to prepare in advance to engage in positive self-motivating behaviours.

The first point says to take it one day at a time, which is great advice with respect to your nutrition and workouts. Tracking is crucial. Each day, you should track what you did. For your nutrition, you should track everything that you put into your mouth. I personally like to create a template of what I’m going to eat the next day a night in advance. It is MUCH easier to rearrange things to hit your macro ratios when you do this in advance, because once you’ve already eaten something, you can’t take it off your journal. Tracking is made SUPER simple with myfitnesspal, which even has handy apps for smartphones and tablets. Click here to learn more about tracking and macro ratios. In addition to tracking food, it is important to track what you do with your workouts. Once you complete a workout and have the number of reps you did on each exercise and what weight you used, you will then know what to do the next time you do that workout. It also helps to show you when you should move up in weight, and allows you to track your progress over time. Click here to learn about my tracking challenge.

Surrounding yourself with positivity is a big one. It is important that you spend time with people who lift you up instead of bring you down. Try to surround yourself with positive people who support your positive life choices. If you hang out with people that constantly bring you down, it is going to hamper your progress. Sometimes people close to you can even be unsupportive of your new shift to a healthier lifestyle and try to bring you down to their level. In many cases, they aren’t doing this to hurt you, but they see themselves reflected in your positive choices and don’t like what they see. They’ll realize that they should be making these changes too, but they don’t want to, so their subconscious tries to sabotage you and get things back to normal. This can be especially hard if it happens to be a spouse, living partner, or loved one. Click here to read more on this topic and what you can do if you find yourself in this situation.

One thing that you can do to help keep you focused is create a vision board. I actually put out a challenge to my health and fitness group a while back where I asked them to do this, so I won’t get into too much detail on this subject here. Essentially what this means is that you think in depth about where you are currently, and where you would like to end up. Then you create a board of all of the things you want to do when you achieve your goals, what you will look like when you achieve your goals, what is important to you and your family, things like that. If you’d like to take on this challenge, click here to read about it.

SMART with respect to goal setting is actually an acronym. The acronym stands for specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely. I won’t get into too much detail here, because I actually have a blog post dedicated to this topic already. Click here if you would like to learn more about SMART and how it applies to your health and fitness goals.

One thing that helps many people stay on track is to reward themselves for achieving their goals. Some people find it helpful to reward themselves with a cheat meal at the end of each successful month. A healthier way to do this is to treat yourself to a new outfit. You could even just keep a jar in your workout area where you deposit a dollar for each workout that you do, and then when you hit your goal you can spend that money on something important to you. Maybe a spa day, who knows, that’s totally up to you! Be proud of all the small steps toward your larger goal, and allow yourself to be excited over those smaller successes.

Having belief in yourself is HUGE. It is really important that you believe that you can do it, because if you allow yourself to start thinking that you can’t do it, your thoughts will become a self-fulfilling prophecy and you will quit before you achieve your goals. If you’re struggling with something, tell yourself in your head that you can do it, even if you aren’t sure. Positive mental talk repeated over time will go a long way to helping you achieve your goals. Even if you can’t do something right away, there are all kinds of ways to modify moves. You just have to do what you can until you gain strength to do more.

Continuing from the last point, it is also super important that you don’t focus in on what you can’t do or the things you don’t like about yourself. Instead, focus on everything that you can do, the progress you’ve made, and the things that you do like about yourself. If you focus on the negative, you’ll never get anywhere. In order to be successful on your health and fitness journey, you have got to make an effort to shift into a more positive mental mindset. If you’re working out regularly and you’ve seeing results, this should happen naturally if you follow the advice in this article.

With this next point, the tracking I discussed above will really come in handy when it comes time to recognize your progress. It really helps to have a record of where you started versus where you are now, and seeing that progress firsthand can be really motivating. This can be in the form of a food journal, exercise charts showing progress over time with reps and weight increases, progress pictures, weight, measurements, etc. Any and all of these things will help you to recognize the progress that you’ve made along your health and fitness journey, and you should focus on that success. It doesn’t matter if you are still a long way off from your larger goal, and you shouldn’t let that discourage you from continuing. As I said before, focus on the positive!

One thing that helps a lot of people when it comes to staying motivated is to visualize themselves achieving their goals. So in this instance, you would sit down and relax while thinking about what you’ll look like when you achieve your goal. Think about what you will do when you achieve your goal and how it will impact your life and the lives of those closest to you. It may help for you to refer back to your vision board for ideas before you do this, and you can even update your vision board over time as you think of new ideas.

Another really important factor to staying motivated is to be kind to yourself. This may sound silly, but it really is crucial. If you are always down on yourself, pointing out all of your flaws, mentally criticizing yourself, et cetera you should focus on shifting to a more positive mental mindset. If you’re unable to do that on your own, you should find someone that you trust to talk to, or consider seeking professional help. If you are suffering from depression, you may find that cardio helps. I have never personally been diagnosed as clinically depressed, but I was going through a really tough time in the years leading up to making the shift to a healthier lifestyle. I was engaging in a lot of self-bashing, and I criticized my every flaw in the mirror. This behaviour wasn’t healthy. When I started doing Turbo Fire, a high intensity interval training program that focuses on cardio, I found a significant improvement in my mental mindset. I’m by no means a doctor or an expert, so I cannot say that this will work for everyone. However, based on my own experience, I think it is a great place to start.

Lastly, DO NOT compare yourself to others. Especially those who have been exercising and eating clean for a long period of time. I struggle with this a bit myself sometimes because I have a lot of friends that do fitness competitions. You have to remember that those people worked hard for a long time to get to where they are, while you may be somewhere in the beginning stages of your journey. Everyone is different, and we all go through different things. The weight loss process is not the same from everybody, and comparing yourself to someone else is only going to hurt you in the long run.

I hope you found this article on how to stay motivated to be helpful, but if you have any questions, feel free to send them my way! If you have been considering making some positive changes with respect to health and fitness and you just aren’t sure where to start, you are invited to join my FREE Health and Fitness group.