My oldest son recently took the ACT and unlike when his sisters took it, we had to upload a photo of him so the person checking him into the ACT test site could compare our uploaded photo with the one on his driver’s license.
The reasoning behind this is obvious. The ACT, SAT, and other standardized tests have had incidences of cheating and they are trying their best to make sure that the student presenting him or herself to the test site is actually who he or she says they are.
Although a student may get a better score on the test by cheating, who are they actually cheating? They are cheating themselves.
The same process applies to weight loss.
When you “cheat” on your diet, who are you really cheating?
Of course you are cheating yourself. We all know it but it can be really hard to stop.
I was the queen of cheating myself when it came to weight loss and dieting. I would join a good program such as Weight Watchers and then “cheat” my way through the week. The day before the meeting I’d eat very little, drink a lot of water, and skip my usual after dinner snack. The next morning, when I went to my meeting, I would wear my lightest weight clothes and “think thin” when I stood on the scale. If I was lucky, I would have lost half a pound. I knew I was cheating on the program but it was very hard to take that a step further and acknowledge that I was really cheating myself.
I was cheating myself of the energy that could be mine if I shed 150 pounds.
I was cheating myself of the improved self-image that could be mine if I lost half my size.
I was cheating myself of the satisfaction of knowing I was filling my body with healthy food.
I was cheating myself in more ways than I could possibly list in this post.
But still I cheated. For 10 long years of morbid obesity, I cheated on every diet I ever tried from Weight Watchers to Richard Simmons and everything in between. Some of the diets were rather restrictive and some were very open. It did not matter – I strayed from the straight and narrow every single time.
The few times I lost more than a couple of pounds were the times I stuck with the diets more regularly. I still strayed from the diet’s parameters on occasion, but I had some good weeks in there too. Eventually though, the tedium of the diet or the deprivation I felt got to me and I gave in to Breyer’s ice cream or McDonald’s triple cheeseburgers. And then it was all downhill from there.
If you struggle with this, you are not alone. I have coached a lot of people throughout the years and spoken to even more people on an informal basis about why they cheat, how to break this cycle, and how to remove cheating from their vocabulary.
In the end, it comes down to two things for me.
1) You have to take the word “cheating” out of your diet vocabulary.
2) You must be willing to acknowledge that the person you are cheating is yourself. It’s not a plan you are cheating on. It is you.
Once I realized those two things, I was able to stop cheating myself and start making choices that were good for me physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. I didn’t cheat at all during the 14 months it took me to lose 158 pounds. Did I stray from my eating plan on occasion? Yes. But did I feel as though I was cheating by having a piece of pie? No. Instead, I deliberately made choices that may not have been a “perfect food choice” but it was my choice and I allowed for it without feeling guilty.
How are you with the concept of “cheating” on a diet? Have you ever felt as though you were cheating on the program but later realized that you were cheating yourself? Diane