My Cheat Week
In the past 18 months I’ve done 7 bodybuilding competitions, buried my mother, ran a Spartan Sprint, did a Level 1 pole competition and filmed a reality TV show.
In short: I’m tired.
And I really, really wanted some chocolate.
The bodybuilding lifestyle includes eating clean and training hard. I like this lifestyle. It works for me. And yet…
Good God, how I loved my cheat week this past week! The important word here is “week.”
Most bodybuilders allow themselves one (1) cheat “meal”, which is say you throw macros to the wind and eat whatever the heck you want, no guilt strings attached for that one (1) meal. Then you go back to green beans and egg whites the next feeding time. (By the way, if you order 877-EGG-WHITES and say my name you will get a snazzy discount.)
I’m a big believer in delayed gratification. I can avoid alcohol and chips for literally months at a time if I know there is a competition just around the corner. But not this past week.
This past week I literally ate ANYTHING that I wanted and, here’s the kicker, I didn’t even remotely feel guilty about it. I didn’t internally scold myself or anything; it was time to actually experience GRATIFICATION. In real time.
I ate my kids’ birthday cakes. My husband’s homemade tacos tasted even better knowing that I was not going to weigh myself the next day. I ordered Indian food with a bottle of wine and skipped the salad completely. I was reminded that pizza is a food that people eat so often they don’t even realize how good it tastes. Hello Golden Arches! I’ll have McEverything (supersized please). Know what else is good? Chocolate, in all varieties.
And cereal, wow, cereal is amazing. And I’m not talking Kashi Go Lean; I ate Cocoa Puffs from one of those left over trial size boxes we bought for the kids on our road trip to Utah.
My feelings of rebellion (you can’t make me eat asparagus!) were satiated. For one week I was no longer left out of social eating: I could enjoy birthday cake and didn’t have to eat ground turkey and green beans out of Tupperware while everyone else ate tortilla chips and alcohol. Last week I got to experience salty crunchy deliciousness and a buzz after one drink cause my tolerance is next to nothing. Those were the advantages I experienced eating like the old me used to eat for one glorious week.
And in that same one (1) week I gained ten pounds. Holy $@#%! That’s pretty impressive, even for me. But more than just gaining weight (much of which was water weight, I’m sure) there were a lot of other side effects that weren’t so glorious.
When you have been eating clean almost religiously for the better part of four years straight without breaks and then go back to processed food, your body gets really angry with you (at least mine did.) Here’s what I experienced:
- Everything tasted salty. You would not believe how much sugar, salt and fat is added to EVERYTHING that is processed or cooked outside your home.
- My stomach looked like I was mildly pregnant. This was especially noticeable after I ate a biscuit with breakfast. I guess my gut was thoroughly confused by flour. (The biscuit was delicious, by the way.)
- My energy level was all over the map. I ate a bag of chocolate chips (don’t judge me) and after a ten minute burst of unfocused energy I crashed hard and fell asleep for about two hours. (Let’s hear it for Sunday naps?) Some of my sluggishness was due to dehydration (I mostly drank Diet Pepsi and coffee and skipped water entirely) and constipation due to completely removing all vegetables from my diet.
- Sleeping was more difficult. I’m sure some of my sleepless nights had to do with my constant racing mind, but all the extra caffeine and sugar ingested surely did not help.
- Negative speak re-entered my psyche. By the end of the week I started becoming self absorbed. Most days when I’m eating clean I just get out of the shower, look in the mirror to make sure I don’t have spinach in my teeth, and get dressed. But now when I stepped out of the shower and in front of a mirror the guilt-free start of my week turned into those old all-consuming thoughts whispering to me by the end of the week. Why did I eat that? Do these shorts make me look fat? I don’t feel good…
There is a saying that goes, “You can have anything you want, but you can’t have everything you want.” In this case it means, “You can eat junk food without limits, but you can’t also keep your ideal weight and feel physically good. So pick what you value more.”
I’m glad I had that cheat week. It was a good reminder of why I choose to live a healthy lifestyle consistently: because it makes me feel good physically, mentally and emotionally. Also, I realized that I need to make a few more cheat meal (meal not week) allowances for myself so I don’t feel so left out of social things like birthdays.
And now I’m ready for some salad.
How about you? What do you notice after a cheat meal/cheat week?
Interested in training with me? Send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Lisa Traugott is a Mom’s Choice Award winning writer, fitness blogger, wife and mom of two….and Original Cast Member of AMERICAN GRIT, starring John Cena, Thursdays at 9 PM EST/8 PM CST on FOX!!!
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