Yes, this month we are talking about cheating! Not “cheating” like the people on Jerry Springer or the latest tabloids, but cheating on our diet or nutrition plan. It’s a fact that having some cheat meals built in each week actually leads to more success in reaching our goals and in developing a sustainable eating/nutrition plan for our lifestyle.
Opinions and research vary slightly, but the concept is the same: if you pick one day a week OR about 10% of your meals for the week and CHEAT, then you are doing good! This helps us stay on track the rest of the time with making good choices for healthy nutrition. It also helps to keep our metabolism guessing. If our body gets very used to certain eating patterns and nutrition, then it gets very efficient. Efficiency of this kind is bad when it comes to body transformation. We want to keep mixing things up a bit. So cheating simply means breaking our normal rules of eating. So if I would normally focus on high protein, moderate to low carb meals and getting the right fats…then on cheat days, I toss those rules out, eat pizza, a second helping of mashed potatoes, ice cream, chips, pie, or whatever.
I bring this up, because often people stress out over the holidays, hold tremendous guilt over not eating with others, or then finally break down and eat bad food and hold even more guilt over that. Guilt+Stress=higher levels of cortisol in your body. High cortisol levels can push your body to store more fat, especially around the abdomen. So stress and guilt are about as bad as eating pixi sticks for dinner as far as our body is concerned. So what I suggest is simply reminding yourself that it’s OK TO CHEAT. To be clear, this isn’t a license to go nuts every day from Thanksgiving to New Year’s, eating everything in sight. It means choose a day once a week and indulge. Enjoy it, and then FOCUS on eating healthy for the rest of the week. This is a great balance for our body and a great way to let go of some of the stress and guilt associated with holiday eating. So when you want to sit down in front of the TV, watch the parades and then three football games and hang out with family….do it guilt free! It’s part of succeeding at your plan IF you stay focused on foundational nutrition choices the rest of the week.
Oh, and if you want to eat even more, then simply offset it by upping your exercise during the holidays. This is a great way to burn calories, relieve stress, and make more room for pie! Set your goal this holiday season to maintain your weight. If you hit January at the same weight you are Nov 1st, then you are ahead of most of your peers. Need more help exercising? Look into the great fitness programs around Lincoln and Omaha. There are many professionals to help you reach your goals and stay motivated. Yoga, Kisado Fitness/Kickboxing, Bootcamps, Personal Trainers, gyms and more are all out there waiting for you if you want to step up your health and fitness.