The Cheat Day
Tan, Tan, Tan… Historically people have been trying to add a cheat day to their diet, always telling themselves that this is the day that they can eat whatever they want, so that they can fool their minds into believing they’ve been good all week so they deserve a cheat meal, or day to satiate their mood…
So let me ask you this because to me cheat days are simply cruel and unusual punishment; what types of food are you eating that you need to have a cheat day?! This takes me back to when I was a younger man working as a welder and training to stay healthy and strong, playing football in Edmonton on the weekends and just starting to scrape the surface as far as learning about athletic training and diet. So a friend and teammate of mine, we decided to visit a very popular trainer who specialized in bodybuilding and physique competitors, because truly we didn’t know any better and the internet was just starting to peak. So after an assessment and questionnaire I walked out of there with a monthly diet, shopping list and recipes. We headed straight to the supermarket and shopped in a strict and driven manner because this diet was going to take me to the promise land!
I remember I finished cooking, sat down to eat, sprinkled some of that flavoured Mrs. Dash, took a bite and thought,”this is how I’m going to eat from here on in?!” HELL NO!!
I come from an upbringing of flavours and colours and spice. Being brought up in Canada I’m always grateful for having such open minded parents when it came to culturally tasty delights. As an adult I realized I loved hot and spicy, but every culture brings something different to my table. I realized back then I needed a cheat day because eating, one of many human enjoyments, was a bland and sometimes terrible experience! I called it my cardboard diet as there were times when I would walk past a cardboard box and wonder, “if I licked that, would it taste better than my dinner?”
People tend to forget that living a healthy life is an experience that brings fulfillment to you and others that surround you. Life is a collection of experiences, a tapestry of moments in which we constantly strive for happiness. As north americans we always see pictures or movies or media about gatherings in the rest of the world sharing meals, music and moments together in envy as we try plowing through our dry spinach and chicken breast. My coworkers will ask me at times, what’s that delicious smell in the kitchen, and I’ll spout out, home made chilli, or eggplant lasagna, or sweet potato-carrot soup with chicken meatballs. You see eating healthy doesn’t mean you need to sacrifice flavour. I haven’t needed a cheat day for a long time, but I also put a little effort into learning how to cook long ago so that I can enjoy those marvellous moments at the dinner table.
Unfortunately I’m one of those who adds a dash of this and a sprinkle of that as I cook, I don’t necessarily rely on recipes. I’ve always seen a meal on TV and guessed how it was made and try making it; sometimes a success, and if I fail, there’s always the little Indian takeout joint by my place. We forget though at times that we live in a world of information, and I constantly get berated with questions on how to make this, or that, or what should I eat…
My answer is simple,”if you can google fabulous workout wear online, why can’t you google healthy chicken recipes?” Horrible aren’t I?
The truth is you spend so much time on your phones finding out what Trump supporters did, but you can’t google a chilli recipe?!?! So getting back to the subject at hand, if you have a cheat day, it’s time to rethink your food choices, and use google as a tool that’s actually useful. At the end of the day I won’t tell you what the best diet is because I don’t know you or any of your underlying issues and I’m not really qualified. But I can tell you the best diet is the one you enjoy most, and share with friends and family. Enjoy a glass of wine this weekend, and stay healthy my friends…
I’ve been training a young lady since the end of last January, and let’s call her Mrs. X for respect and anonymity. As with all my clients, I’ve been monitoring her fitness progress levels such as strength, endurance, power, etc; areas most trainers tend to keep an eye on. Mrs. X on the other hand, she monitors her training through BMI, measurements and body composition areas where most clients are commonly interested in. We both have our methods and similar goals as to what we want from each other, but both of us working for her goals and interests. For example maintaining a strong fitness for future competitions in obstacle/strength type games is definitely one of her main interests. Her goal is also to place not just compete, so her specific demands are met with specific adaptations in her training.
After our last session together, she mentioned she got some professional pictures done and that she was quite happy with her progress but would definitely like to see better results on the body composition side. As stated earlier she started training late January of 2015 and since then has lost 25+Lbs, is down to 21% body fat and looks amazing. Some might say that those numbers are realistic and fantastic from the general population’s point of view. From my point of view, she’s using 210Lb squats as her working weight, up over 40Lbs from where she started. Mrs. X can freely do sets of 6 to 8 dead hang pull ups and maintain a 5km run under 30 mins. She has begun to shave seconds off her sprint all in her preparation for the Toughest Competitor Alive which is a Fire/Police type game of a decathlete type sports. Not to mention that this summer she won individual’s silver medal at FEMSPORTS as well as a team silver.
As a trainer I’m always adamant about training for realistic goals in mind and the body composition will follow. What I’m trying to say is that I never promised her she’d lose 15Lbs in 12 weeks using an 800 Cal diet, complimented by some ridiculous interval training routine like you see being promoted in social media. She might succeed in losing the weight but most likely rebound back to the same weight, if not double the weight she started at like in many cases out there. Sustainable fitness isn’t something that happens over night, and isn’t a 12 week program or a miracle diet. Sustainable fitness is a way of life that demands you stay the course through three major factors; Programming, Diet, and the most important one of all, Mindset.
Fitness programming based on health issues, biomechanics issues, and yes let’s not forget goals is usually the first step. The next one is your diet, and here we repeat ourselves over and over as trainers and members of the unified health and wellness fraternity the importance of complimenting your training with a great daily diet. The last is the most important one of all and that’s your mind set. We can train all we want but sooner or later we slip if we don’t coach our minds to autopilot when it comes to schedule, dedication, discipline and of course accountability. I think back to 70’s bodybuilding or some would call it the golden age of bodybuilding and most pros, Arnie included never had to lose more then 10-15Lbs to cut down for the Mr. O’s. This means most competitors of that era walked around with an average of 12-15% body fat. The same goes for professional athletes within different disciplines, I’m sure they’re not looking in the mirror looking for flaws in their physique; the training, the diet, and the mindset sustains them a physique that suits their particular sport.
The reality of ‘Sustainable Fitness’ is to put these steps into play and ‘commit’; yes I said the one word that is not ‘option.’ I know, millennial’s are cringing as they read the word ‘commitment,’ but it is the only way people like most business not unlike my own will move forward in pursuit of those enigmatic goals. If there’s a business coach that tells me that for a $10,000 2 week course he’ll double my income in a month, I’d say show me the execution of your program! How does it work and what systems did you implement to make that sort of return, but more importantly; is it sustainable for growth.
Training works the same; we push the envelope in the gym while training smart, and compliment the systems implemented by eating well. This is all wrapped up neatly into a mindset that was prepped daily prior to starting to train in our session. Sustainable fitness puts people in a position to dedicate themselves to a journey. Sustainable fitness is not a quick fix or the diet of the month. It is a lifestyle not a session or a program, and the physique we crave is simply the byproduct of hard work over a period of dedication, commitment, hard work and accountability. Maintaining 3 very important factors to remember; Intelligent programming, goal oriented but sustainable diet, and a strong disciplined mindset. I’d say that’s a recipe for success; in the meantime Mrs. X will surpass her goals and compete at a very high level while still balancing a demanding career, 2 kids and a husband, and let’s not forget dealing with me on trainings day!
Oscar Wilde once wrote,”Be yourself, everyone else is taken.”
I stop think; what were the self image problems of that time in comparison to today to make such a bold statement?
As I scour the internet for a good article to read in relation to training, movement, and health I see a lot of “Laudanum” being sold everywhere I stop! That ever potent snake oil sold by a new age snake charmers and I think to myself; wait this isn’t the wild west! This isn’t the 19th century where alchemy competes with real medicine!
Nope, this is the the 21st century and yet the snake charmers of today aren’t much different, they’re self helpers with no back up proof trying to give you the the answer you want rather then the one you need.
The truth is the brands representing protein powders, fat burners, and any other ridiculous diet of the week limiting you to 800 Kcal/day, is not sold because there’s too many frauds in this world that are willing to sell you these products. NOOOO! It’s because there’s too many people willing to buy said products or services believing that there’s an easier way then training, eating right, and getting a great sleep!
It’s because there’s too many out there who are still looking for the ever elusive fountain of youth that’s filled with six packs and biceps; I don’t like mine so let me try that one on for size! Looking at this situation in our society, I’d say Oscar Wilde was on to something. I’d say whatever was going on in his world probably wasn’t too far from ours.
Looking back at my company and clients, it’s taken some of them a long time to realize after training for years with me that there’s more to reaching your goals then a bootcamp 2 or 3 times a week. There’s a discipline that follows the training;
1. there’s a good diet
2. portion control
3. breaking bad habits
4. creating good habits
5. sticking to your programs
five examples of factors involved in getting you closer to that fountain you see on the magazine racks at the grocery store, or trolling through the internet.
There’s words we cringe at in this millennial era; commitment, accountability, discipline… So on and so forth. But words we forgot were instilled in us through our parents. These aren’t words that we should run from, because these were values that were passed down to us to make us better reflections of ourselves.
At the end of the day I can’t look elsewhere for what I want, or what I want to look like. I have to dig deep within myself and venture the long hard path to achieve that holistic happiness we search for.
I run because I train for a race, I improve my cardiovascular endurance and burn a load of calories. I lift weights because I want strong muscles, tendons, ligaments, and core; so that I can stand tall and live healthy. I sleep like a bear so that I can continue training the way I do and recuperate faster. I eat with the intent of enjoying my meals, fuelling my workouts, feel healthy and at 42 keep the weight down as well. I don’t do this for any other reason, but ironically enough, the other reasons people look for just happen as well because I do these things.
I am myself, everyone else is taken…
Be happy with you, inspire others to be themselves, have a few beers on the way, and stay healthy my friends.