Day 058-2 (M, 120227) — Tips for Successful Cheating

Everything in MODERATION!!!!!!  If you have followed me for a while, you may have picked up on the fact that I usually use the word moderate a bit ironically.  It’s my preferred word when I need to describe a meal or event or day during which I indulged.

Yesterday, like last week, I moderated some non-Primal food.  It all start when my friends asking me to come over and help them move some furniture they had bought of off Craigslist . . . .

A bit of advice: when a woman who has lived her whole life in Mexico until less than a year ago, and who has already proven herself to be a great cook, offers to make you something, shut the hell up about your diet and say, “YES!” 😉

Given that set up, when they offered to make traditional chilaquiles verdes con pollo as a reward for helping out and for the camaraderie of hangout out together, I gave a hearty war-whoop and agreed wholeheartedly.

As you must have guessed by now, it was delicious! =)

To make matters better (or worse, depending on your point of view), for dessert they served us some Pastel Imposible, an insanely good combination chocolate cake and flan.

After that wonderful meal, we went home and got ready for the Stars game against Vancouver.  While there, I stayed pretty good (no popcorn or pretzels or peanuts, though I did have a few bites of Mrs. NJ’s chocolate), but then we got some food on the way home: she got tacos, I had a double-cheeseburger and chili-cheese fries from Carl’s Jr.

I enjoyed all of it, including a bit of ice cream and candy later on, and, somehow, I still feel ok today.

Now for the point of this post: tips on doing Free Day/Cheating effectively.


How to Cheat and Make it Count.  Over the past year, I’ve cheated/taken a Free Day lots of times.  Sometimes it was a momentary deviation caused by an exceptionally tempting treat; most of the time it was planned.  In many ways, these Free Meals and Free Days caused problems and interrupted my program, making it harder for me to achieve my goals (thus my switch from 4HB to Primal).

BUT . . . that does not mean it was a total waste: I learned a lot from these episodes and here offer a bit of dieting wisdom to help you out.

(1) Cheating happens.  Accept this and it will be easier to auto-correct afterward until you are back on track and making progress.  So long as it’s not a daily occurrence, you can get past it and reach your goals.*

( 2) Plan it.  Whenever possible, if you know you have an even coming up which will either tempt you beyond tolerable limits or which you want to allow yourself the indulgence, plan how you approach it.  One of 4HB’s greatest strengths is that it has a whole chapter devoted to limiting the damage done by cheating.  Use the 4HB tips.

More importantly, if the cheating is part of a deliberate deviation from the norm, planning it makes it easier to enjoy it, which is the entire purpose of the indulgence.

(3) Eat Consciously.  This is the principle behind my maxim Slow the Fork Down.  Since you are going to be eating things which you ostensibly crave and do not normally allow yourself, letting your hand and mouth operate on autopilot is the exact opposite of what you want to do.

  • Relish each bite.
  • Think about the taste.
  • Use all of your senses and all of your attention as you enjoy the feast.
  • Pretend you are an [insert indulgence here] connoisseur and are judging the World Championships, deciding exactly why and how this particular dish deserves the gold medal.

This is harder than you might think: even when I focus on eating consciously at the beginning of a meal or snack, I often find myself finishing the dish and thinking “Whoa!  Where the heck did it all go?”

(4) Forgive Yourself.  This applies mostly to unplanned cheating, but, even if we planned a Free Meal or Day ahead of time, we sometimes feel bad about eating (all that) bad food.  We bemoan our “lack of willpower” and “hate ourself in the morning.” It happens.**

Feeling this way is not a crime or an imperfection in our spirit, but that doesn’t mean we should wallow in self-pity.

Don’t ever feel bad for getting discouraged.  It is just part of the process, not a permanent state. —

People who are successful find a way past these self-recriminations and “get back in the saddle.”  They forgive themselves and find a way to do better next time.

Here’s a good resource for figuring out how and why you do things, and how to short-circuit the pattern which leads you to the undesired behavior next time: The Power of Habit.***


Binging.  On a related note, offers up an article today called What to Do after a Binge.  More importantly, in my mind, are the tactics they suggest for how to stop a binge before it starts.

For me, the best way to prevent binging is to leave the area.  If I physically remove myself from the location of the temptation, I find it much easier to refocus on something constructive (or, at least, non-destructive).

Other things they suggest:

  • Portion control is your friend.  Don’t carry the whole box of crackers/cookies/etc.; take some out and put the box away.
  • Eat slowly over a longer period.
  • Before you eat something, drink something.
  • Plan ahead for specific cravings.
  • Eat consciously.

It’s worth a read.


Screwed Up Day Counting.  I just realized that I messed up counting my days going back seven posts (17 days) to February 10.  I fixed them all, including changing the URLs for each post (since the URL matches the day count).  I hope that didn’t break both links people on the Internet had made to those posts….


Exercise. I still have not worked out.  Ugh.  This makes 13 days since I made my body stronger.

I did get to play Ultimate Frisbee on Saturday.  It was my only exercise at all for the week and, while it makes for a good low-key-cardio-interrupted-by-lots-of-sprints exercise, it’s cannot (and is not supposed to) take the place of my bodyweight exercises 2-3 times per week.

Unfortunately, I sprained my ankle (again!) on the last play of the day.  While I was able to RICE it pretty well afterward, and it feels about 80% right now, I still don’t want to stress it.

My older kids out of town this week so I have plenty of opportunity to get off my ass and do something.  I may skip my squats or modify my plank a bit until my ankle gets closer to 100%, but I will work out today, damnit.

UPDATE: I did my normal workout minus the squats and the second handstand set.  Achievement of note: I held my first plank for 2:28, almost half a minute longer than my previous best. =)


* If it IS a daily occurrence, something else is wrong.  Maybe you need to find a different program which is easier for you to stick with.  Maybe you need to address other issues in your life before you can effectively work on making yourself healthier.  Whatever the cause of this too-often cheating, address it first and then these tips will help you incorporate the occasional Free Meal/Day into your overall efforts.
**  And maybe we should: shame can be useful if it spurs us on to achieve greater things, overcoming our momentary failures and making progress toward our goal.
*** See, for example, his video about breaking his daily cookie habit.

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