Cheat Days. Isn’t that one of the major things you associate the weekend with? I used to. So much, in fact, that it didn’t even occur to me that eating healthy Friday through Sunday was something that anyone did. Or could do. Crazy, right? My cheat weekends always started gradually…on Friday I’d have two slices of cheese pizza, and a large cup of Tasti-D-Lite, instead of my usual medium. This meal alone is roughly 1,000 calories. I always thought that if I stayed around the 2,000 calorie range on a Friday that I was doing “good.” Good…by what standards? And then of course by the time Sunday rolled around, nothing was off limits.
About two years ago, Liza and I had an obsession—nay, an addiction—to going to the movies every Sunday night. Not only was this habit detrimental to our wallets, but it was even more damaging to our waistlines. One time I ordered a chicken finger meal w/ curly fries, a large Diet Coke and a box of Milk Duds, and the girl behind the counter asked me if I was pregnant without batting an eyelash. (I blamed it on the the unflattering American Apparel baby doll cut dress I was wearing, but clearly she thought I was eating for two!) And then every Monday I’d start my week feeling gross and bloated, and of course, hating myself. Update: I now go to the movie theatre about once every other month and when I do, I sip on water—and occasionally steal a few Twizzlers or peanut M&Ms from whoever is with me. I broke my movie-junk food routine using this habit-breaking method.
Now, I’m at a point where I can eat just as healthfully on a Tuesday as I can on Saturday—it feels nice. Because I follow this mindful eating tip, I don’t plan a meal or a day where I let myself go off the rails. But let’s be honest, I’m not a super-restrictive eater in the first place. I eat what I want—within reason—a lot the time it’s veggies and whole grains and sometimes it’s breakfast burritos and pizza. But now I never eat to the stuffed, I-need-to-put-on-sweat-pants-asap point.
The above illustration is precisely why I don’t believe in diets; however, lately, I’ve decided that I need to be a bit more mindful about my eating habits, especially during the work week. Do I really need two big spoonfuls of almond butter in my oatmeal? That extra serving of brown rice? Or a morning Grande Soy Misto? Not really. And then when I do have an indulgent meal I will enjoy it that much more.
The thing about improving your habits is that you then set a new standard of what is “good” and “normal.” But that standard doesn’t necessarily align with what will make you feel like your best, happiest, healthiest self—the person you are meant to be. So now I’m going to try to focus more on being in the moment and not base my food choices on old habits or my new perception of normal. Just because I’m now only eating froyo about once a week compared to my old 5x/weekly habit, doesn’t mean that it’s OK. I need to stop and think about why I am eating it in the first place. At least fifty percent of the time it’s because I’m having a mental breakdown. Yikes!
I’m curious: Do you have a plan for cheat meals or days? What healthy habits are you working on right now?
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