How to Cheat On Your Diet & Stay Lean For More Energy
By Jimmy Hays Nelson
“Did you feel guilty eating that?!?” This is a question that has been stuck in my head. It came in the form of a comment on my Facebook Page when I posted a picture of my cheat meal one week. The admittance that I cheat on my diet like everyone else wasn’t a huge deal, but the issue of guilt associated with rewarding oneself opened the door to an issue that goes beyond goals and discipline.
I allow myself one cheat meal a week where I can eat and drink whatever I want. A whole rack of ribs with french fries???? If the mood strikes me…absolutely! That meal is something I now look forward to each week, and I enjoy every last morsel, but that hasn’t always been the case.
As a person with a 100 pound weight loss story, the history of my relationship with food is a complicated one. Growing up, the mirror was a daily reminder of my poor food choices. But as I became fitter, the mirror still found ways to torment me. Even at my fittest, often after a splurge, I would feel like ‘Fat Jimmy’ all over again! Somehow my mind’s eye would manifest that when I looked in the mirror. A temporary exhale would have me feeling like I ‘failed’ and was starting all over from square one.
Maybe you have avoided embarking on a new fitness or nutrition regimen because you felt that in order to get real results, you had to take on an all-or-nothing mentality. Is it really possible to cheat on your diet, see results, AND increase your energy?
I am here to tell you – ABSOLUTELY, YES IT IS! But I haven’t always felt that way. I went through spurts where I was so scared of returning to ‘Fat Jimmy’ form that I went to some unhealthy extremes when it came to my nutrition. I look back on some of those pictures, and I’m shocked at how thin and anemic I looked, but I remember at the time still thinking I had work to do as I chased some imaginary ‘perfect form’. My energy and attitude were on a wild roller coaster ride throughout this period since I wasn’t properly giving my body everything it needed.
Eventually, I had to take a step back and ask myself why I put such high expectations on myself with very little room for error? Was it because I honestly felt better in my rigid schedule? Was I constantly comparing myself to others and chasing their results? Maybe I had created some ‘image’ in my head of how others saw me, so I had to constantly live up to that standard 24/7. I’m sure each of these played a role in my guilty remorseful ‘cheat hangover’. Maybe a few of these same issues are affecting your state of mind as well.
So what changed? How is it possible for me to indulge in some super loaded burger meal without having a remorseful food hangover? Will I go back to feeling tired and lethargic?
I had to examine whom I was living my life for. Was it for me and the personal goals I set for myself, or was it to live up to a standard I thought others had for me? I finally had to ask myself, ‘what’s the point of all this hard work if I never get to exhale, congratulate myself and celebrate the accomplishment?’ Everything has a season and a time. So are there still stretches where my training and nutrition are what others would label extreme? YES! Those times are usually reserved for a build up to some kind of event like a wedding, reunion, vacation, or photo shoot. It gives me a specific date to aim for knowing the celebratory splurge is awaiting for me on the other side of that finish line.
So if you are just starting a new nutrition plan or fitness regimen, don’t look at it as this huge impossible task! Get over the ultimatums like ‘I can never have margaritas, chips and salsa again’. Instead, start small. Example: ‘For the next three days, I will get up an hour earlier to exercise’, or ‘this weekend, I will cook my meals for next week to improve my nutrition’. At the end of that small timeline, review how it went and how you feel. Do you deserve a small reward or have you created some momentum to where you want to keep going? Either way, celebrate your achievement; Set the next mini goal and repeat! You will find that by giving your body all the fuel and nutrition it needs, your energy will skyrocket!
‘But Jimmy, can I really stay lean if I am indulging in my chocolate addiction weekly?”
Yes, BUT there are some guidelines we must establish before you just give yourself the green light to stuff your face into a bowl of ice cream. Deal?
#1 – You Must EARN Your Cheat Meal
By this I mean you need to be 100% locked in on eating clean for the entire week before your indulgence. The best way to achieve this is to plan out your meals for the week. It might be an adjustment at first, but it doesn’t take long before it is just another habit like brushing your teeth. My secret is to cook my meals in bulk for the entire week. Click the link to visit the blog post where I talk about my weekly schedule. By cooking my food ahead of time, I’m also saving precious energy of having to slave over the stove trying to whip something up every night.
#2 – You Must PLAN Your Cheat Meal
Yep, this requires a little planning ahead as well. If you know exactly what day and which meal will be your indulgence, it will keep you from those impulse splurges in a moment of weakness. We all have them, and they usually rear their ugly head in a time of stress. Work, family, money, pets …. you name it, all can trigger the ‘I NEED JUNK FOOD’ button in our heads.
However, if you know that your cheat meal is scheduled for lunch on Saturday with friends, you will be less likely to give into your stress craving because you don’t want to jeopardize ruining that event.
Which brings me to #3…
#3 – You Must BE HONEST With Yourself!
Ok, let’s get real! You plan your meals, you schedule your cheat, your week is planned. Does that mean everything will always go according to schedule? OF COURSE NOT! Goof ups will happen! You will fall off the wagon. Your spouse will bring home pizza one night, even though they know you are trying hard to watch what you eat. And more than likely, you will give in. I mean you ARE human, right?! (And pizza smells awesome!) So when those times happen, you have to be honest enough with yourself to admit it happened, don’t beat yourself up, and audible your gameplan for the week. In other words, if your cheat meal was planned for Saturday, but you had a pizza slip up on Wednesday night, then you need to be grown up enough to say, “Well I guess it will be a clean eating Saturday because this pizza on Wednesday was awesome, and that was my reward this week.” Deal?
I find following these guidelines have made it much easier for me to avoid the spontaneous mid-week slip ups because, in my mind, my cheat meal is a big party once a week that I don’t want to miss. I also find that by limiting myself to just one cheat meal a week, my energy stays up throughout the week and my body doesn’t feel weighed down. It’s just a little shock to my system for one meal and then it’s back on track!
You work hard; You deserve be rewarded for that hard work! So see, you really can have your six pack and drink it too! (ok…maybe not drink the WHOLE six pack, but you get my drift!)
If you need help figuring out what to eat through the week so you can enjoy that once a week cheat meal, then I invite you to grab my Free No-Brainer Food Guide that you can print and take with you anywhere. It is the exact food guide I used to lose 100 pounds, and keep it off for over 10 years.
Follow these simple guidelines and you will watch your pant size drop and your energy levels climb! Welcome to your new ‘manageable goals’ way of life!
In this thing together – Coach Jimmy
Jimmy Hays Nelson Beachbody Coach is a self-proclaimed ‘former fat guy’. In his mid 20’s he was an overweight college dropout, who found himself living back at home with his parents. Knowing something had to change, he took action.
Through his transformation journey he lost 100 pounds, started his own business, was featured in the Shaun T workout series INSANITY, and has been seen multiple times on QVC with his buddy Tony Horton promoting P90X.
He founded NELSONGY FITNESS with his wife Kelly to reach out to give hope and support to those that are dissatisfied with their current situation. Whether you are lacking physically, emotionally, financially, or nutritionally we are here to help you see REAL RESULTS!