All too many roads to failure have been paved with good intentions! Tell me if this sounds like you...
When you make the decision to monitor our caloric intake and begin dieting, you go cold turkey on your favorite foods, stop snacking, and eat significantly less than you are used to. Carbohydrates are the devil, and chicken breasts and fish filets are on the menu at every meal. You may find that you have tremendous success for a week, maybe even two weeks! You don't see overwhelming results and you miss your social life, your favorite snacks, or simply want to go all types of Walking Dead on a rack of BBQ ribs.
So Damn Delicious. Nom Nom.
Eventually...you cave, and you go to chunky town on that rack of ribs, and a few beers, some fries, and even that desert cake your friend makes this time of year. You sit back in your comatose, over-fed, but fat-and-happy state and think to yourself, "Shit, screwed up now, whatever!"
Hopefully you didnt, but most likely...you stopped trying to eat healthy and you gave up!
Now first, before we get to the main point of this post...remember this one fact:
One Mistake never equals Total Failure. Just because you "shit-the-proverbial-bed", or you lost the way doesn't mean you need to give up and call it a day. You made a mistake in your diet, and hell, depending on how strictly you've been eating, you may have done yourself a favor.....Just make like Frozen and Let-It-Go!
Ok, on to the meat-and-potatoes of this thing (see what I did there?)
This is a practice I've preached for a while to many of my clients. It is an excellent way to rewire our brains relationship with "cheat" meals. The concept is based around our psychology as human beings. Deprive us of anything for too long and we start to contemplate the crimes we'd commit if it meant satisfaction. Especially, food. This fact doesn't set us up for long term success.
Now, some of us are psychologically stronger than others and excel when the odds are stacked against us. These individuals find success in the situations where most people find failure, and often take the "shut-the-hell-up-and-just-do-it" approach when coaching people of lesser motivations.
These individuals make great professional athletes, bodybuilders, figure competitors, models, and even CEOs if you follow the business track. They are able to block out craving and temptations, and rationalize their efforts towards a long term goal, no matter HOW distant it is.
Thus, it goes without saying that if you are training for a bodybuilding or figure competition the following dietary advice does not pertain to you.
These individuals are the exception and not the rule.
It is time to provide a new way of approaching eating habits, and stabilizing healthy eating patterns. Everyday life responsibilities such as jobs, families, and normal stress of the day-to-day can cause us to change our eating patterns. Here is a system that will help you get through the weak points, and hopefully, have less of them.
I have never been a fan of the whole "eat perfect for six days, eat a cheat meal on Sunday, and reset on Monday" mentality that is typically prescribed. This practice of deprive and binge is hard to maintain without developing a unhealthy relationship with food. Food suddenly becomes punishment or reward, which isn't a positive mentality when approaching a successful lifestyle change.
So, How do I enjoy my cheat foods?
It is simple. You allow yourself to have a sampling of what you desire every few days in place of saving up for the big binge on the weekend.
IC (Incremental Cheating) allows you to deal with cravings in a much more manageable way by replacing your weekly binge meal with 2-3 smaller cheats throughout the week. It is time to get away from the "cheat meal" that causes nothing but sluggish bodies, and guilty souls.
There are rules:
Be disciplined. You can't cheat everyday. In fact, do not cheat more than 3 times in a single week. It isn't a cheat meal if it is the norm.
Be disciplined. You can only consume 200-300 calories in these cheat snacks. Do not devour an entire bag of cookies, or drink an entire case of beer. Have the strength to walk away.
Be disciplined. Ensure that the rest of your daily intake of calories are on point. Eat proper amounts of protein and replace a carbohydrate (or fat) with your snack food
Eventually, we want to get away from this style of living as well. Over time you have to aim to remove a "cheat-meal" per week. You'll find yourself getting leaner and needing less psychological satisfaction of your food.
Clearly, you need to be disciplined. However, you are rewarded more often for your discipline, and are able to manage cravings, and the psychological stress of dieting much better. This should make doing it long-term much easier! You can do this!
The Fundamentals of Healthy Apply More-So
Eat for macronutrient and micronutrient content. This means eat the appropriate amount of protein, carbohydrates, and fats for you! Furthermore, consume whole sourced, nutrient dense foods that provide a full compliment of vitamins and minerals to your diet.
Eat for your goal. If your goal is to lose weight, then ensure that you are eating in a daily deficit of 300 to 500kcal per day. Most of your calories come from protein and healthy fats. Avoid the silly carbohydrates sources in most meals and limit starch and sugar content.
Apply the cheat meals by removing the "equal" from your diet. If you are in caloric restriction and have a high amount of minerals and vitamins in your diet, than it doesn't matter if you skip that handful of grapes at lunch and replace it with those skittles you've been thinking about all morning. Don't crush the darn bag, but have a handful and smile.
Photo Credit: Huffington Post
Enjoy your meal and move on! Don't think about wanting more. Enjoy the taste, eat it slow...and remember that you have long term goals that matter far more than that cheat meal.
This form of eating can be a risky move for someone who lacks self control. Simply put, if you can't "PUT THAT COOKIE DOWN"...then you will struggle to achieve success with this form of weekly eating. However, if you have struggled in the past with the conventional eat healthy, binge hard, reset mentality, then this may be your fix!
This way of "cheating" can be very beneficial to those who have always had issues with their cravings and crack quickly when going cold turkey. Think of it as a "medium" setting on your diet.
At the end of the day our goal should remain the same. Move towards a diet that is based around eating healthy, protein rich foods that have safe ingredients and are full of nutrients that fuel life.
My hope is that if you have had issues in the past with your diet tactics, maybe just maybe, this will hep you break out of that rut. Follow the rules and eat the appropriate amount of calories for you and allow yourself a LITTLE treat every few days instead of that big smash every seventh day!