On September 11, 2016, my wife and I started a journey. We didn’t know at the time that this journey was going to turn our entire world upside down. At first, we had no idea what we were doing. We had set a date to start with the expectation to make a plan before it arrived, but I put off planning until it was grocery day. We took a few minutes to look up some recipes, got a few ideas for stuff to buy ,and then we headed to the grocery store.
Part of our plan quickly became the inclusion of a cheat meal. The rules for the cheat meal were simple: calories don’t matter with the expectation that we don’t go completely crazy. As we reached our first cheat meal, though, we felt guilty and stayed within our calorie limit for the day. It wasn’t until several weeks into our change that we finally let loose and had a funnel cake when we went to a local haunted corn maze with friends.
The longer we are doing this, though, the more that the idea of a “cheat meal” bothers me. With each passing week, this change becomes more and more integrated into our lives as a lifestyle choice rather than a diet or weight loss strategy. Not just in theory, but in reality. This is what makes the idea of a “cheat meal” or “cheat day” so unacceptable to us. We’re not cheating on anything. We’re just living our lives.
Think about it for a second. To maintain the idea of a “cheat meal,” it means that we are cheating on something. If we are implementing a lifestyle where healthy foods are the priority, why is it cheating when we exercise our ability to have something other than our typical food choices? Rather than cheating, wouldn’t it be best to think of it as using our ability to make good, healthy choices?
Cheat meals aren’t all bad, though. By only allowing ourselves one per week, we have been training our bodies that less healthy foods, though great tasting, are terrible choices if eating frequently. Cheat meals have helped us to learn the art of eating less healthy foods in moderation. This process has been great for helping us to solidify our changes, learn how to establish boundaries, and maintain those boundaries. However, that seems to be where the effectiveness of cheat meals starts to fade.
This past weekend, I fully enjoyed a wonderful cheat meal with my wife as we elected to have sushi. With our best guestimates, we are both relatively sure that we took full advantage of our cheat meal. Yet, on Saturday night, I elected to give myself another treat: alcohol. Yep, even though I had sushi on Friday night, I was extremely proud of myself for all of our accomplishments and I decided to have another treat. So, I went to the local liquor store, bought a 2 oz bottle of Knob Creek, and a 20 oz diet coke.
Now wait… Didn’t I promote that I gave up smoking, soda, alcohol, and bad foods in order to regain my health? When I started this journey, soda and sweet tea were the only fluids I ingested. In regards to alcohol, while nowhere near being an alcoholic, I regularly enjoyed several glasses of whiskey over the course of a weekend. Does having this treat make me a failure on these goals? Do I have to start my count over? Heck no! I’m still doing fantastic! For me, having this treat did not tempt me to go back to old patterns. I simply exercised my choice to have these things in moderation in accordance with the standards of my new life: less healthy foods only being eaten in light moderation.
I’m certainly not wanting to use this blog to tell anyone how to live his or her life . If you enjoy the practice of a “cheat day,” I’m all for it. As for my wife and I, though, we’re done feeling like we are cheating on a diet. We are just living our life. Does our lifestyle still have boundaries? Does our lifestyle still have caloric expectations? You betcha! But we’re not cheating when we have our weekly date night meal together or springing for that special adult drink. We’re just living our life.
For now, though, it’s back to taking my life back…
- September 11, 2016: 450+pounds
- Today: 401.4 pounds
- Total loss: 48.6 pounds (18.2% of my total excess body weight)
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