Cheating is not a word I use in regard to eating healthy and exercising. It's not that I'm perfect — far from it, in fact. It's just that “cheating” is for diets. And I'm not a fan of diets.
Most people who diet feel like they're on a program or belong to a special group. Then, when the diet goes away, they're left feeling alone and confused. The weight comes back, and the next new diet comes along. It's a vicious cycle.
When it comes to health routines, many people think one unhealthy move is the end of the world. Feeling guilty, they give the bad habit a label — cheating — then continue the behavior until they decide to go back on a diet. Again, a vicious cycle.
To change the up-and-down, back-and-forth pattern, stop thinking about your indulgences as cheating. Instead, consider them part of a new, healthy pattern. If you're normally a healthy person but have one moment that's not-so-healthy, don't think of it as a setback. Think of it as a tiny piece of the bigger picture of health. Have your moment, whether it be a slice of pizza or bowl of ice cream, and forget about feeling guilty.
This isn't “cheating” because balance is key to good nutrition anyway. Allow yourself to splurge just a little, and then get back to your “normal.”
Once you're there for an extended period of time, going back to it isn't so hard. This means you've mastered a lifestyle change.
You feel better, look better and your body works better. You'll never want to “diet” or “cheat” again!
Jill Koegel is a registered dietitian and certified personal trainer based in Omaha. She blogs every Wednesday for livewellnebraska.com.