Oh my, I’ve really had to practice “staying in my lane” this past week in my Social Media.
A friend of mine who also helps people with nutrition, weight loss, fitness, and self-care has been posting about a new plan she’s promoting. Under this plan you “only work out 4 days a week and you even get a cheat day”. And along with the posting comes emojis of burgers and beer.
Now, I have watched this friend change her life and that of her family, grow her business and help a LOT of people with what she does. So, I don’t in any way want to disparage her.
…BUT I wholeheartedly disagree with this type of language and philosophy around eating and moving.
I have restrained myself from questioning it on her page, so she can continue to reach the people she needs to reach, and I don’t muddy the waters.
So, I want to talk to you about it instead.
“cheat days”, “cheat meals”, “joy meals”, “off the wagon”, “on the wagon”, “the crumbs don’t count”, etc.
I hear a lot of language like this.
And I don’t like it. One bit.
Language is important. The way we talk to and about ourselves matters.
And to me this language continues to paint food, especially food you like, as the enemy. Which has the logical conclusion of making you a bad, wrong, or weak person when you go to “the other side”.
If there is such a thing as a “cheat”, then there is someone who is cheating and that someone is you.
And, to follow the logic of the language, you are cheating on someone. Who??
You are not cheating on your “diet” – a “diet” is an abstraction, a bunch of made up rules. This language indicates that you are cheating on yourself. What possible good can come of considering yourself a cheater?!
This thinking indicates that nothing less than 100% is acceptable. If you can’t score an A+ you rationalize “cheating”. As I mentioned in last week’s post, perfectionism is a gremlin that stands in the way of us accomplishing anything because we can’t accomplish everything. So, we set up a little cycle of denial for us – a moment in time where we tell ourselves that what we are doing really doesn’t count, doesn’t matter, doesn’t have an effect. But you are, of course, smarter than that, so underneath denial is at least some subtle guilt – feeling bad because you “shouldn’t have”.
The other thing that this language does is reinforce a reward/binge cycle. You are “good” all week long (which often means over-restriction) so you have “earned” your “treat”, you “deserve” it. With this thinking, you are much more likely to overdo the food/drink in question, sometimes giving over the entire day or weekend to the “cheating” …only then to feel like you must double down on your efforts when the new week begins. So, you get stuck in this cycle of white-knuckling willpower followed by full-throttle unconsciousness.
How is it, then, that you can be true to yourself?
- Be as clear as you are able about the effect of what you are eating has on your body. Go by how you feel and what you notice, not by what someone else says.
- Know that many other things go into your health in addition to your food – your level of stress and guilty thinking can have as much or more harmful effect than any food you eat.
- If you decide to eat something that is not nourishing, or you know will not make you feel great, own that choice, and make sure you enjoy it fully and mindfully. Stop before you are too full.
- Simply consider it all “eating” not “cheating”. You will be way less likely to enter a binge/restrict cycle.
- Practice thinking that you do not have to score 100% on some abstract set of rules to be deserving of anything. Be honest about what you are willing to do at this time, and if it makes sense to do so, work to gradually improve the balance of nourishing food.
The truth is that I eat burgers and drink beer weekly. Most of the time my burgers do not include the bun (something I prefer, unless the bread is super delicious, in which case I will have some). I don’t consider it cheating (or even unhealthy), I don’t feel guilty about it, and I listen to my body to know when enough has been had and the pendulum needs to swing towards less meat and more water. And what I want for you, my friend, is to develop this sort of beautiful, trusting partnership with your body.
If you recognize yourself here and know that some of the way you talk to yourself could use some help, I encourage you to consider working with me. You can download your free guide or get a small taste of 1:1 coaching through my Drop the Guilt and the Weight program.
If, on the other hand, a set exercise schedule, meal plan and built in cheat days IS something you are looking for, I am happy to refer you to my friend. Shoot me an email. I am serious about this. There are so many ways, I want you to find what is best for YOU!
I’d love to know what you do with this!
May your days be truly delicious and satisfying!
Hi! I’m Laura Jarrait and I work with women who adore good food but feel like it’s running or ruining their lives. They don’t want to diet or quit socializing around food but are tired of feeling less than their best and guilty, obsessive, or confused about what they eat. I help them keep the pleasure and drop the stressful thinking and extra weight, so they feel confident, light and free — all without ending their love affair with food!
I would be thrilled to help you do the same! Get my free Beautiful You guide that teaches YOU how to eat with pleasure and thrive at your natural weight or learn more about how I can support you in your eating, body love, and weight-loss goals.