I sat with a husband and wife on Saturday. They were interested in "making it a lifestyle." It started, as most consults do, with the awkward navigation of their motives. I ask questions, trying to be gentle and not prod too hard. They give me the answers they think I want to hear. We go through the basic medical history, past injuries, goals, and options. After explaining how we run things at Haka Fitness- a methodical approach to fitness that focuses on movement first- I ask about nutrition.
"What do I need to do?" She asked. "Vegan, Paleo, Keto? I can do whatever for a while. Should I juice? I mean, really. Whatever I need to do... I'll have a cheat day, right? We did Whole 30 last year but I got bored with it and fell off the rails. Can I have pasta on my cheat day?"
Whoa, whoa, whoa.
**Cheat: act dishonestly or unfairly in order to gain an advantage**
This isn't an uncommon conversation. It happens in many fashions and forms, and somehow the word "cheat" always gets tossed in there. I don't know about you, but I've cheated before..... I've never once felt good about it. As a matter of fact, every time I have ever cheated in life, I felt like a piece of shit, a failure. If you find it necessary to cheat, you're getting it wrong from the beginning. I don't care if it's your food, your marriage, your money, or something else, the life you are doing is rubbing you so raw that you'll do anything to escape it. Cheating is choosing without integrity. It appears viable to you only when what you are doing is fundamentally at odds with what is reasonable for you. In other words, when you are undernourished, stagnant, joyless and unfulfilled.
That's for everything.
I'm not sure a little ice cream is worth qualifying yourself as a piece of shit. Neither is a day without exercise, a run cut short, letting something slide with your kids, or falling a bit behind in your homeschooling plans. In other words, it doesn't all have to be so rigid, so right or wrong, so militant. It took me a loooooooong time to learn this truth. It took a lot of injuries, colossal diet fails, ruined relationships, and epic idiocy. Take a step back when you're looking at your health. Ask yourself the same question in the context of a relationship.... uh, yeah Babe, so do I get a cheat day? Give yourself GRACE. Don't do it if you dread it. And for Christ sakes, don't lament to me about how you "cheated." That's between You and You, y'all gotta find a way to live together that jives for the long haul ;-)