As a fitness professional it’s expected that I follow the rules. I work out almost every day, I rarely take a day off. I hardly ever eat out. I eat clean and commit to my daily Shakeology. Sounds good right? Where are those abs? Come one baby belly when will you leave me?
I still cheat almost daily. I allow myself to have one cookie. Sometimes I eat an extra carb. I used to save my cheats for big desserts like ice cream or a snickers. My taste buds have changed so much that these treats are too much, too sweet, they hurt. I end up with sugar headaches or just feel awful. I have found the trick, at least to staying on target, is eating 80/20.
The expectation that anyone should be 100% all the time is too much. It leads to failure, it makes nutrition stressful. That’s how your weight-loss balloons and becomes weight gain. Allowing occasional cheats that are portioned and reasonable is my secret to long term success. To a lifestyle over a fad diet. I’ve tried both and if you want to sustain your results 80/20 is key.
Part of the key to this way of eating is that I don’t just consider my daily portions and calorie intake, but my weekly. I look at my nutrition as a big picture to ensure that I am balanced and eating well all week and not just for a few days. If I have one cookie in three days that’s not a big deal. If you learn to look at it from this big picture stance it’s easier to commit to just one and not beat yourself up over it.
For months I would have cheat days where I would binge all day. I would have everything I missed all at once. It took me all week to recover from the bloating and stomach pain. Yet I kept repeating the cycle. I didn’t actually like the food anymore, I was eating it because I remembered liking it. I remembered turning to those foods when I was upset. It was habit, ingrained in me, and I kept falling for it. The only way I could break the cycle was to address my emotional issues with food.
I went deep, addressing the views I had of myself. The views others had of me. I allowed myself the possibility that I could be skinny and fit. Not that I was mind you, but that I could be. This freed my psyche to stop worrying that I wasn’t pretty, that I wasn’t fit, that I would never be. Focusing on progress allowed me to give up the need for perfection. I also lost the drive to push for 100% in my eating. I just can’t convince myself that some great sacrifice is worth it.
Your health is built over many days. It truly can help you at first to stop all bad habits cold turkey. It isn’t healthy to rely on soda or need a constant caffeine source, working out will help you balance. But if you have one soda, one cookie, in a whole week… It is not the end of the world. No fit police are going to slap them out of your hand and chastise you to do burpees. Focus on how many cookies you would’ve eaten before and how much control you have now by only having one. Always look forward, only look back to reflect on your progress. You don’t have to be perfect, just better than you were yesterday.
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