If you have ever had a conversation with someone who is talking about weight loss and they’ve used the word “cheat?” They might have said something along the lines of “My cheat day is Sunday, on Saturdays I eat all unhealthy foods because I did so good during the week, or my cheat meal is a large combo from McDonald’s because I earned it.”
You might have also heard someone say “I screwed up I got an ice cream cone so I’ll just wait and start over next month.” We all have different approaches to health and nutrition and I am not at all saying there is a one size fit all approach. Let me offer my thoughts on this pattern of thinking and why long term it may not be the best option.
Our food intake and lifestyle do not have to be all or nothing. You do not have to quit your health goals because you ate one piece of cake. You also do not have to cut out cake for the rest of your life. You do not have to give up on losing those 5 lbs because you had a rough weekend and got Chick Fil A. Do not fall into the black and white pattern of thinking about your health. It’s a dangerous and slippery slope that in my opinion sets one up for failure.
We know from research and life experiences that there are many options available that will highlight losing large amounts of weight in quick timeframes. When you don’t lose 50 lbs in one month you are just ready to give up bc it didn’t happen overnight. NBC News summarized this Yo-Yo or weight cycling effect well. “While small fluctuations on the scale are normal, the unhealthy behavior that experts refer to as weight cycling is not. Cycling is defined as a significant increase or decrease in body weight that occurs multiple times.”
While the flashy headlines of dropping lots of weight fast may catch your eye I will challenge you to instead think about balance. Think about whether the program, eating, and exercise routines you are beginning are something you can maintain for years down the road.
If it is – chances are you will find yourself much more successful in maintaining a healthy weight loss or health journey. If it’s not – sit down and plan. Surround yourself with people who will encourage a healthy and well-balanced lifestyle. Cut yourself some slack and find a reasonable plan. Don’t sabotage your long-term success by your short-term immediate need for massive change. It will not happen in 5 days but I can promise you when you meet your goals that success will be much more meaningful because you worked hard and it’s for the long run!
So let’s shoot for balance my friends not cheating. Just a small shift in a word and a mindframe might be what you need to start a new way of life.