Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Making the case for "Cheat Meals."

If you've been on Instagram for any length of time, you've become somewhat familiar with the fitness gurus and their relentless dedication to creating the perfect body.  One commonality they share is the way they eat.  You'll often see plastic tupperware filled with green vegetables and an unbreaded protein.  Then at some point in the week, he or she will indulge in eating "normal food" otherwise known as a cheat day.

Instinctually, I shunned this way of life.  Why deprive yourself all week just so you can eat like a normal person on some designated day.  This form of deprivation seemed unrealistic and much too challenging for us commoners.  But, I've come around to this way of thinking and I'm ready to try eating like a fitness buff.

Here's why I've changed my tune.  For a few months, I've indulged in any and all of my cravings. Chips, snacks, fried foods, whatever.  If I wanted to eat it, I did.  And, of course, the inevitable happened. Clothes began to feel a bit snugger and I found myself reaching for loose fitting outfits meant to disguise my expanding waistline.  To correct this situation, I did what I had to do.  I ate sensibly and incorporated more physical activity into my day.  Soon, clothes started fitting normal again.

But I feel like I have been riding a see-saw. On one side, I eat the things I love and gain weight. On the other side, I restrict my eating and get to enjoy the body I want.  So how do I get to do both?  How do I indulge in yummy foods AND get to experience a healthy body.

Enter the cheat meal/day.

The cheat day is the intersection between the body of your dreams and enjoying delicious food.  Cheat day(s) provide permission to reward ourselves as a result of our healthy eating.  Cheat days give us something to look forward to.  Eating whatever you want, when you want is overrated.  Most times, this only leads to regrets.  If you're still in your twenties with a metabolism that never quits, then maybe you can consume enormous amounts of calories without consequences.  But, for the rest of us, reckless eating will quickly catch up.

The solution is to load up on nutrient dense foods as much as possible.  This means fruits and veggies making up a larger percentage of what we consume.   We now manage the way we eat so we can enjoy fitting into the clothes we love.  And maybe we don't become as regimented as the fitness gurus on Instagram.  Maybe we just increase the amount of greens we enjoy and eat smaller portions.  Whatever's required to keep us at our healthy weight.
When I do enjoy an indulgent meal, I don't want to feel guilty because we've already had our share of high fat foods this week. I want to enjoy every bite, knowing that I'll still be able to fit into my favorite jeans.  I understand that my definition of eating clean and cheat meals may not be as restrictive as defined by the fitness community.  But it's all about eating very sensibility and in a way that creates the body I want to have or maintain.  

When I used to travel regularly, I'd adjust my eating if I had a long couple of weeks of travel ahead so I didn't return home 5-10lbs heavier than I left.  If I decided to eat out every night, using the company credit card, I'd regret it later. But, if I made an effort to eat sensibly, maintaining my weight seemed so easy.  I want to go back to that sense of ease and comfort in knowing that I have the power to experience the body I desire and the occasional indulgence.  Thank you Insta-fitness gurus, for showing us the way to having it all.

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