Reviewed by: Erica An, APD, BNutr&Diet
People often ask me (I’m looking at you live TV interviewers!) if I ever ‘cheat’, like I’m some kind of a saint up high on a pedestal of perfection. First of all, I am very definitely not a saint. Neither I think you are a sinner if you don’t eat and train perfectly every single day of your life. Extremes of anything are unhelpful – being way over on one end of the spectrum sets you up for a wild swing to the other side. Likewise, swinging around like crazy is just going to make you feel sick and out of control.
Balance is Key
So I am a big believer in the 80/20 rule – set yourself up to eat and train awesomely 80% of the time; and then you can relax the reins for the remaining 20%. Relaxing the reins for a deliberate, considered moment in time is not going to have you swing out of control. Keeping an even keel over the long term is the aim of the game people!
For example, when it’s a special occasion, like my birthday – I eat and train normally leading up to and after the event, and I let myself enjoy and indulge during the occasion.
Now because I have eaten really nutritiously and trained really consistently pretty much all my life, my idea of letting my hair down might not seem that out there to some people. I have no desire to launch into a massive bender that sends me so far down the rabbit hole that I can’t ever find my way out. I like the feeling of a strong, healthy weight body and mind. This out-weights the desire of a jumbo breakfast burrito, family sized pizza for lunch and an all you can eat dessert buffet for dinner.
So for me, a ‘cheat day’ might look like:
- Sleep in until I wake up (ditching the dawn workout)
- Breakfast of hotcakes with maple syrup (and nope, I don’t share the syrup!)
- Lazing poolside with a few dips as the sun gets hot
- Antipasto platter with a cheeky vino or two
- Massage or facial
- 3 course dinner (yep, entree, main and dessert!)
Then, the next day I’d get back on the bike (literally) and crank the kms and strip back the extras. I’d switch the hotcakes for an omelette and leave both the entree and the dessert at dinnertime. And trust me, as much as I thoroughly enjoy my indulgence day. I’d just as thoroughly enjoy getting back in the swing of eating clean and training the next day.
The more your body adapts to nutritious foods and regular exercise, the more you’ll find you just aren’t interested in crazy extreme cheat days that blow into weeks or months. Instead you’ll enjoy loosening the reins once in a while when the occasion calls for it. Just remember to keep on your even keel and win at the game of life!