Your body will adapt to the standards you set for it.
“An upcoming vacation gives us something to eagerly anticipate.” — Jaime Kurtz
EDITORIAL DISCLAIMER: Any advice or recommendation given in my writing is what works for ME and may not be the best regimen for you based on your psychological or physiological makeup and stability. Please consult a doctor when making decisions about your health.
Since the time I started eating healthy, I always would look forward to my cheat meals. I mean go to sleep and dream about it looking forward to my cheat meals.
I know I’m usually having a pretty good disciplined week when I go to sleep Friday night dreaming of California Kitchen Pizza and sweet potato fries combinations (great combo BTW).
There’s nothing like capping off a good week of healthy eating with an all caution to the wind cheat meal that sometimes leaves you feeling like you probably broke some biblical commandment a little bit.
I can abstain from something that I like without much trouble, but let me have a taste of something that I enjoy, and I find it almost impossible not to eat as much as I desire. Think of a zombie eating brains in just about any apocalyptic movie you’ve ever seen.
What this sometimes turned into, however, was me consistently eating so much during my cheat meal during the weekend that I would eliminate or come close to eliminating any gains I had made throughout the week, as it related to losing weight to keep my weight under control.
It wasn’t until recently, however, that I discovered giving my cheat meal a week off was exactly what I needed to take my fitness to the next level and nowhere near as challenging as I thought it would be…surprisingly, most things aren’t once you give them a try.
There are several reasons and benefits to this.
It helps me keep my weight under control easier
Ideally, at a height of 5′ 7’’ (RANDOM SIDE NOTE: I’ve always felt that I should be 6’1’’ …not sure how God mixed that up, but nobody’s perfect, I guess…), 155 lbs at 10% body fat is my ideal weight and body composition to ensure I am as strong and as lean as possible without overdoing it in my opinion.
I can definitely get to 150 lbs if needed, but the closer I get to 150 lbs, the more I have these intense hunger pains and carb headaches that make me contemplate stealing the food off of other people’s plates when I’m waiting for my next meal, so I figured that probably wasn’t the healthiest weight for me.
I would consistently cut weight to get close to 155 lbs (usually in that 157–158 arena) but then when the weekend came around, I would eat whatever I desired and balloon up to the 162–163 area by that coming Monday.
While this wasn’t terrible and didn’t lead to me looking in the mirror and calling myself a fat slob, it just wasn’t the weight at which I wanted to be, so I wanted to try something different to see if I could rectify it.
When I first thought about skipping a cheat meal one week, it was mostly because I knew I was going on vacation the following week and would not be sticking to my diet anywhere near as closely as I usually do.
Pizza and sweet potato fries every day anyone?
Usually, on the weekends, I would enjoy my usual California Pizza Kitchen meal or Halo ice cream as a dessert, but this weekend, I decided to skip that completely and just eat something healthier that would not put a big dent in my shredding attempt by Monday.
Funny enough, Monday came and I recognized that I had not gained any weight at all, but had actually maintained my 157 lbs status from Friday.
This was a gamechanger for me because now I didn’t feel like I had to work so hard to try to get down the following week and still felt like I had a weekend in which I enjoyed eating more than usual and giving myself a mental reprieve from the rigidity that I usually have during the week.
I still get to enjoy a “baby” cheat meal each week
When I say “baby” cheat meal, I’m not talking about what a baby would have as a cheat meal…I would venture to say that would probably be a big bowl of cheerios with extra sugar or something, not sure.
What I mean by “baby” is just a meal that is larger than I would usually eat but still fall within the parameters of my diet restrictions to some capacity.
No…it does not come close to my usual Dwayne Johnson smorgasbord of food that I’m used to on my cheat meal days, but it is a larger portion than I would typically eat that gives my body a bit of a reset for the week.
As shared in a previous post, I typically will allow a mid-week cheat meal to give myself a carb boost and kick my fat-burning metabolism back into high gear. This meal usually consists of anywhere from 800–1200 calories.
For my weekend “baby” cheat meal, I typically stay in the same range of calories but try to make it something that I REALLY like and double the portion, so I feel like I am overdoing it a bit.
Two of my personal favorites are build-your-own-bowls from either Cava or Upbeet (Side note: I plan to buy an Upbeet one day because I LOVE their food so much…if you have an in with the owner of this, holla at your boy).
These are two unique restaurants that have a plethora of options from which to choose related to making healthy choices. I love it because I feel like I’m cheating when I’m still eating rather healthy.
It makes the time I enjoy a full cheat meal that much better
This is one of those usual by-products that you don’t expect, but when it happens, it is a pleasant surprise to my psyche that really makes a difference in my psychological focus and happiness.
When I have cheat meals every week, I look forward to it, but it’s almost like taking a vacation too often. My wife and I usually take a trip every other month or so, but when we find ourselves doing too much in a short period of time, we don’t have the same type of excitement that we do when it has been some time between trips.
Usually, the more time in between doing something, the more excited your body becomes as the result of that thing. Vacationing every day SOUNDS like a good idea in practice, but when you do something all the time, it loses its specialness.
This is why the more time in between our vacations the more excited we become about them.
Part of this is because our minds are psychologically ready to relax and not think about work, but the other part is that we feel that we have EARNED it based on the hard work that we have put in since our last vacation.
This is the same thing for my cheat meals.
When I take two weeks between them, I get way more excited about enjoying the meal because I know how disciplined I’ve been over the past two weeks and know that I’ve really put in the work to earn it.
It’s not that I didn’t feel any excitement when I did it weekly, but it is not the same as compared to my excitement bi-weekly…I usually start dreaming about food on Wednesday.
I think part of this joy is knowing that it will not ruin the shredding attempt I have been working on, so I can enjoy it a bit more guilt-free than I would otherwise.
I have even gone as long as three weeks and the excitement continues to intensify, but three weeks may be a bit much for the average person, but it is something to consider if possible.
Overall, the experience has been very positive for my health fitness goals and I highly recommend it for those who are looking to switch it up a little and take their fitness game to the next level.
Just don’t blame me when you find yourself drifting off to sleeping thinking about food every Friday night…it does make for interesting dreams, however.