Why Cheat Meals Are A Joke And What To Do Instead

There’s a difference between living a healthy lifestyle and training for world class fitness.

Treat Meal - Famous Dave's BBQ

Anniversary dinner at Famous Dave’s BBQ

Those who are training to compete in fitness competitions, a body building show or other type of world class events have to keep strict diets for long periods of time to maximize their physique and use strategic cheat meals while following a training and diet regime.

That’s not who this post is for.

If you’re like me and you’re exercising and eating healthy as a part of your overall lifestyle, you’re not always sticking to a strict diet and exercise routine.

Maybe, you’re working out 3-5 times per week and trying to eat healthy on what I call the 80/20 plan (where 80% of the time you’re eating good and the other 20% you are allowing yourself to indulge).

I call the 20% “treat meals;” not cheat meals.  😉

Even when I’m focused on a 60 or 90 day workout program or working towards a new fitness level and I cut back my indulgences to say 90/10, I hate to use the word “diet.”

It just bugs the crap out of me.

Who likes to be on a diet? The answer is no one.

Why? Because it means restrictions.

Can’t eat this. Cant eat that.

Must do this. Must do that.

Don’t drink this. Don’t drink that.

We all hate being told what we can’t do.

I choose to use the phrase “nutrition plan” in place of the word diet. Maybe it’s just me but it feel more empowering.

While some of you reading this will simply call it my semantic play on words, let me explain why I use it and how it works for me.

I’ve been involved in fitness since a young age and am still very active today at 44. I’ve had times in my life when I have done “diets” to meet some fitness goal.

But having a world class physique is not my profession, meaning I’m not someone who earns a living being in world class shape.

I’m a busy parent and an entrepreneur running a couple of businesses and being healthy for me is about being the best person I can be on a daily basis to feel vibrant and alive when I wake up to tackle the day.

I also have this thing about taking care of my body as it was God’s gift to me when I was born and the way I see it, you only get one to live in so I should take care of it the best I can.

(Side note: Many of us take better car of our cars then we do out bodies, but that’s for another post.)

Each day, I likely face the same type of day that you likely face.

  • Kids issues
  • Work issues
  • People issues
  • Business issues
  • Financial issues
  • and on and on

My goal is to live a lifestyle of feeling good, being mentally capable to handle the decisions I have to make as an adult, parent and businessman and being active and alive.

Do you know what I mean?

So, it’s funny to me that when I post pics on Facebook or Instagram of a “treat meal” like the one my fiancee and I ate along with the drinks we had last night while celebrating our 4 year dating anniversary and people who follow my healthy journey wonder but Darrell, how is that healthy?

Drinks at Famous Dave's - Anniversary dinner

Drinks at Famous Dave’s – Anniversary dinner

Understand this.

It’s not healthy. It’s a treat meal.

And I do them frequently. At least 1-2 times per week.

It’s how I stay sane and have stayed on course to lose over 30 pounds over the last year without stress.

Sure, I could have done it in 60 or 90 days but as I mentioned earlier, I have a hectic life just like most folks.

The only thing I forgot was to take a picture of the bread pudding that came for dessert. It looked so good, I just dove in so please forgive my manners…lol.

The main message here is living healthy cannot and will not be destroyed by a “treat meal” or two every week.

It’s the 20% part of the formula every week.

And if you think about it, therein lies the secret to success. You must measure your progress weekly. You didn’t put the weight on in one week. You won’t lose it in one week either.

This methodology allows you to stay consistent over a long period of time which has been one of my keys to staying in descent shape over the years.

When I put on 30 pounds between 2011-2013, it was because of a combination of factors, all of which compounded over time:

  1. I wasn’t exercising regularly (maybe 1-2 times per week…I stress maybe).
  2. I treated myself way more than 20% of the week…(more like 60%)
  3. I allowed myself to fall into being lazy and just not caring…(because I made excuses as to how busy I was growing our new business).

All of it was a big pile of (insert your own expletive) and I knew it.

Maybe, you’ve done this yourself for longer than a couple of years.

One thing you can’t do is to beat yourself up about what happened in the past.

All you can do is make a decision today about what you’re going to do going forward.

I’ve lost 30 pounds over the last year by following a 3 step formula that anyone who needs to lose 20+ pounds can follow without killing themselves with a strict diet.

Notice, I said over the last year…not overnight.

I love food. I love to eat and “treat meals” (not cheat meals) are how I stay on track to my long term goals.

I hope you’re using them in what you’re doing along your journey.

Do me a favor and let me know below. Do you use “treat meals” in your life of staying healthy and fit?

What are you favorite “treat meals”?

If you need some help, you can get it coaching from me here and it’s free.

Talk again soon,

Darrell “treat meal” Evans

Darrell Evans - Home Fitness Success