Diet & Nutrition Tips,  PFOODIE

Beware of Cheating on Your Diet

How can you expect to have a NEW body continuing your OLD ways?

As most of you know, I try to come up with motivational mantras, tips and photos to help keep my fitness followers on track. Yesterday, my post was not really that profound. It was simple but true:  “Today could be a new beginning, but you can’t begin something without ending other things. If you want to start being healthy, you need to end some of your old bad habits. Say goodbye to skipping workouts and cheating on your diet – and say HELLO to a brand new fit you!”

My thought when writing this was that people don’t seem to have a problem starting new healthy habits. People start working out, eating healthier, etc but they do it IN ADDITION TO their bad habits – as if they can do enough right to erase their wrongs. But it really doesn’t work that way.

“Cheating comes from a type of ‘denial’. Saying to ourself: this won’t hurt, or this is only just a taste, or I haven’t eaten that much today, or I deserve this, or this is healthy.” – Julianne

Is cheating OK? That depends. It depends how you define cheating. For me, cheating means occasionally eating 200-500 calories more than I budgeted. If I cheat often, that’s not cheating. That’s a bad habit.

However, for others, cheating means going crazy and totally splurging, or cheating a little every day. People often sabotage progress by cheating on their diet too much, too often, or too soon – justifying every bite.

My mom had some really good input on what cheating meant to her just yesterday, saying, “Cheating comes from a type of ‘denial’. Saying to ourself: this won’t hurt, or this is only just a taste, or I haven’t eaten that much today, or I deserve this, or this is healthy. The definition of cheating is: Act dishonestly or unfairly in order to gain an advantage. The only advantage is ‘taste & enjoy temporarily’….the disadvantage is ‘fat and miserable'” – and that’s not temporary at all.

Unfortunately for many, cheating does hurt because most people don’t cheat responsibly. If you compare eating to spending money, maybe you can have a better grasp on what is really going on. Weight management is a numbers game, but most people don’t track their calories on their cheat days, or meals, like they’d balance their checkbook after shopping. The “out of sight, out of mind” mindset is an attempt to dodge reality – but the reality is, it affects you whether you know the extent of the damage or not.

Keep your Cheating in Check with these Tips:

1. Budget around 250 calories a day for fun stuff, including coffee, protein bars, fruit, cheese, nuts, sweets or salty snacks. Dieting shouldn’t be miserable – and if it is, it won’t last. Give yourself a little leeway. This allows even the strictest dieters to still have around 1,000 calories a day in food (300-350 calories per meal), which is plenty (if you are eating quality food) to keep you satisfied.

2. Find a healthy replacement for an unhealthy eating habit. Many people struggle to resist snacking or drinking at night. For others, it may be a coke or coffee habit. At first it will be difficult to stop some of your favorite treats, but if you stick to your plan, you can get rid of your bad habit in a matter of a couple of weeks. Instead of quitting cold turkey, try finding a new healthy habit to replace the bad one. For instance, replace you nightly downfalls for a late night walk, sipping on hot tea, drinking as much water as possible (almost making it a game), sticking to low-calorie healthy snacks that fit your budget and long candlelight baths. Keep troubleshooting until you find what works for you.

2. Cheat with a purpose. Instead of just going wild and spontaneously cheating, plan your cheat meal. Count the calories ahead of time and decide exactly how many calories you plan to eat. If you research your cheat meal ahead of time, you are less likely to go overboard and more likely to stay more accountable.

3. Avoid big cheat days until you reach your goal. Cheating can severely slow progress. A person can literally wipe out an entire weeks’s worth of dieting and exercise with one “off day”. Instead, plan small occasional mini-cheats, totaling no more than 500 extra calories, that will keep you happy along your journey.

4. Don’t rely on exercise to erase bad decisions. Let me say it a little louder: DOOON’T RELYYY ON EXERCIIIISE TO ERAAASE YOUR BAAAAAD DECISIONSSSS!!  Many people don’t control their eating as they should and use exercise to erase their diet sins. Not only does it rarely work, it also is not fixing the problem. If you want to control your weight, you have to control your tongue. Continuing your old ways are not an option if you are wanting a new body. Quit fooling yourself. You can’t have “I can have my cake and eat it too” mentality. Some people may be lucky enough to live this way, but the majority cannot.

5. You need to know if you are ON a diet or IN maintenance – because there is no “OFF”. If you struggle with your weight, it is likely you will always have to manage calories. Of course, when I talk about “diets”, I’m not necessarily speaking of a specific diet, I’m speaking of self-control. I’m talking about counting calories, purposeful healthy eating, and/or staying accountable for what you eat. One of the biggest mistakes I see is people do is go “ON” a diet and, after they reach their goal, they go completely “OFF”. ORRRR, they go ON a diet during the week, and OFF their diet on weekends. Ask your husband if he’d be OK with you cheating on him on the weekends – I bet it wouldn’t fly with him either. Like marriage and finances, you’ll have to have limitations if you want to be successful – whether on a diet or in maintenance.

Owner of Lift Vero and motivational "pfitness, pfood and pfaith" blogger in Vero Beach, Florida.


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