How to Indulge without Ruining Your Diet
Before we talk about “cheating” either ourselves or our diet, let’s look at what “diet” really consists of. The word “diet” scares most people. It’s a word that denotes going without, starving and eating buckets of rabbit food…uck! In reality, diet merely describes what you eat, not how you eat. Livestock eat a diet of grasses. Most wild carnivores eat a diet of meat. As humans we eat a variety of meats, vegetables, grains, fruits and nuts. That’s all that “diet” means!
Now that we’re clear on what you eat, let’s look at how you eat. We’ve gone through the holiday season with party after party and oh my, those fancy draped tables…laden with all that yummy food. Calories upon calories! Did you indulge with holiday treats and “cheat” on your daily calorie intake? If you answered yes, then you are in a titanic-sized boat with most other dieters out there.
Besides how you may have indulged over the holidays, what else did you do during those days? Did you stick to your regular exercise program, or did you find that exercising went out the same window as your diet? The tidbits you took from the sweets and desserts table are waiting to be burned off. When you sit most of the day and become less active, your calorie burning ability is running on the lowest setting. Calories are merely units of heat. They’re “fuel” for the body. Calories are what keep us going. Too many calories and…Oops! The bathroom scale shows us numbers that are not pleasing.
As long as you maintain a schedule of activity where your body is burning off calories, you can indulge on occasion without ruining your diet. The people who many think of as “never gaining weight” may fluctuate in weight gain or loss, yet it’s never more than a pound or two on the scales. Why? Because when they do take in more calories than their bodies need, their active lifestyle burns it off before the buttons pop. So, perhaps instead of counting calories for each meal, we should be counting the amount of calories we burn throughout our day.
Here’s an analogy to help you remember. Let’s say you have a car and you’ve just filled it with fuel…let’s say it took twenty gallons to fill it to the top. The fuel gage reads “FULL”. Now let’s say you drive a total of fifteen miles before you return to the gas station. You certainly wouldn’t put another twenty gallons in the tank. Why? Because you haven’t used up what you had in the tank from the last fill-up. It’s the same with our bodies – adding more fuel to a full tank makes no sense.
“But if my tank is full, then why am I hungry!” you argue. Okay, I agree, we all want to eat when it’s time to eat, but the key is not to overfill your tank. Eat a reasonable amount of calories. Don’t stuff yourself! If you were to insist on putting another twenty gallons of fuel in the tank of your car that didn’t need it, those around you would declare you “insane” as the fuel ran out on the ground. Our bodies aren’t the same as a gas tank. We expand with each over fueling and we all know where that leads. Yep! The clothes no longer fit. The buttons pop…if we can even get them close to the button hole. We’ve sabotaged ourselves by over-fueling our bodies.
The bottom line is yes, we can indulge without ruining our diets, but not on a regular basis. When you do indulge, be it with a piece of cake or a full-out cheat day, plan to get plenty of exercise in the days following and get back to your healthy diet. Indulging when dieting always happens, but it doesn’t have to set you back very much, if at all, if you follow these tips.