It’s always when you least expect it. You’ve been finding balance, exercising, making sustainable diet changes, and then it happens. Sarah shows up with donuts and mochas. You know that the sugar, carb, fat overload isn’t what your body needs but… donuts. You cave, you savor, you enjoy every bite. But, before you start beating yourself up and decide to throw your day to gluttony, take a second and just enjoy the sugar rush. It’s not your first slip up, it won’t be your last, and it won’t derail your progress if you don’t let it.
Cheat meals are necessary for any major lifestyle change. Sure, we strive to be the people on Instagram who eat beautiful, nutrient-dense acai bowls, kale salads and quinoa crisps all day, but this is the real world and things like donuts and wine exist. When you’re honest about your cravings and understand that changing your lifestyle is a journey, you can survive a cheat meal every once in a while and still make progress with your fitness goals!
Why We Cheat
Cheat meals are an inevitable part of changing your lifestyle. It’s not sustainable to completely transform your diet and activity level over night. When you do this your cravings can take over and rear their ugly heads in the form of binges. Binges that make you feel terrible and often stop your progress in its tracks. You’ve been there before, we’ve all been there before. When you “can’t” have something, you want it more and that’s why we cheat ourselves when we’re trying to change our lifestyles.
Fortunately there is a way to not let these cheat meals ruin your day and derail your progress. By allowing yourself to have your cake, you won’t be inclined to eat the whole thing. By realizing that you’re human and slip ups will happen, you can bounce back from a cheat meal and make the sustainable changes to enjoy “bad” foods every once in a while as you transform your body and mind. Here are a few techniques to help refocus your motivation and meet your goals, and even enjoy those donuts that dance into your day.
Refocus Your Motivation
The first step to bouncing back is to be honest with yourself and refocus your motivation. Reflect on what first inspired you to lead a healthier lifestyle. Write down your motivations and stick them on notes around the house or on the fridge, if that helps. Think how those donuts made you feel, both physically and emotionally. Remind yourself that one meal isn’t going to break your progress and take that energy into your next workout.
Seek Water and a Walk
It's simple and it works. After a cheat meal, find the motivation to rehydrate and get moving again. Grab a water bottle and go for a walk. The best time to go for a walk is immediately after overeating. The walk will help speed up the digestive process and puts those extra calories to work right away, so you can feel better faster. If water is not enticing, add a favorite fruit for a natural sweetener. If you’re craving a “bad” snack outside of meal time, drink a bottle of water first. Sometimes hunger is actually a sign of thirst or simply boredom.
Plan Healthy Meals
Avoid cheating by starting your day with a healthy, hearty breakfast. Fill up on whole grains, fresh fruits and lean proteins. You will feel fuller longer and be less tempted to snack on simple, easy junk food. Before you head into your busy day, plan your meals and have healthy snacks, such as nuts, fruits and veggies, to eat on the go. You can avoid unhealthy snacks if you’ve got healthy ones on hand, and even if you choose to give into your craving when you’ve got almonds in your purse, you can make it up to yourself later.
Work It Out
There’s no better way to rebound from a cheat meal than to put those calories to use and grab your Strong4Me Fitness Guide. There is no cheat meal that can’t be rectified with good workout. By putting your muscles to use you can even justify an occasional “bad” meal that all the health food gurus tell you you’re not supposed to have. In fact, working harder after a cheat meal, or pushing yourself just that much further with a cheat meal as your “reward” is one of the best motivators you can have when you’re making sustainable lifestyle changes.
Strong4Me Fitness is about making changes to your lifestyle that you can uphold for a lifetime. It’s not about deprivation and overworking yourself to achieve a certain size or weight. You should never feel deprived or that when you “cheat” that your efforts are wasted. You’re changing, you’re learning and you’re getting better every day! Enjoy those donuts, thank Sarah, and make sure you get that workout in this afternoon!