29 September 11 Cheating to Win: How it Can Work for Weight Loss

How many of you have felt shame when sneaking a mid-morning doughnut at work or have been scolded by your diet partner for getting 2% milk in your latte instead of skim? Probably a lot of us have. This notion of shame, or guilt, can actually be self-destructive to losing weight, and unless we change our mindset about food - realizing that we can "cheat" to win - we risk starting a downward spiral that derails us from our goal to lose weight.

The definition of cheating is essentially doing something outside the rules in order to win or gain an advantage. We hear a lot about cheating in sports or contests, but dieting and weight loss are not games. We have to eat food to survive, so why should food have a negative connotation? Why do we feel the need to label this food as "good" and another "bad"? If we place negativity around certain foods, we can bring on a sense of discouragement in ourselves just by being around them. Who has felt some level of stress or pressure when a coworker brings in a plate of fresh-baked cookies, and that's even before we ate one? Just looking at a cookie made us wonder if our willpower was strong enough to withstand the bits of tasty "evil" hidden inside those chocolate chips. These feelings won't help us reach our goal to be healthy and lose weight because they cause us discomfort during our journey, and if we feel discomfort every day just by being around food we run the risk of giving up because it gets too hard.

The powerful tool that is a food diary allows us to budget for any food, and we can remove the label of "bad." Now we know, of course, that some foods are more or less healthy for us, but by tracking calories we understand how to maximize our portions in relation to our nutritional needs. "Bad" foods are often rich in calories, so one bite of that chocolate cake may run us 75 calories or more. Whereas a whole medium apple is about the same (according to MyNetDiary). Just knowing this can help us in deciding whether or not we really want that cake anyway.

Other diets (aka. fad diets) are about restrictions, and they thrive on the notion of "good" and "bad", but using a calorie tracker shows us that we can find joy in all foods - as long as we budget for them. Think of calorie tracking as a financial budget: if we want that new set of golf clubs or fun vacation, we plan and save for it, don't we? The same goes for calories - if we know we're going somewhere that has great desserts, we can "save up" on calories a day or two before, or a day or two after so we're averaging out to our daily calorie goal. Calorie goals are not something set in stone; they represent our limits as an average. This way we don't have to feel discouraged if we go over one day. We can just aim to make that difference up over the next couple days.

Some MyNetDiary members find it helpful to pick a night of the week (or a day) that is their "splurge day" (or cheat day). It's a day where they can take a break from the pressures of avoiding this or that and enjoy those treats. Of course, they still record what they eat so they are aware of their calorie intake, but they've planned for this time all week. It's something they look forward to. You, too, can do this - plan and hold yourself accountable. In fact, it's encouraged because a little "cheating" can go a long way when it comes to losing weight.

Ryan Newhouse

Ryan Newhouse is the Marketing Director for MyNetDiary and writes for a variety of publications. He wants you to check out MyNetDiary on Instagram!

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Disclaimer: The information provided here does not constitute medical advice. If you are seeking medical advice, please visit your healthcare provider or medical professional.

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