When a “cheat meal” turns into “What-The-Hell!”

cheat meal

Ah…the “cheat meal”…

Have you ever been in the process of working on improving your health, and you’re absolutely SMASHING IT…and then you have a “cheat” meal… which turns into a cheat day… which leads to a cheat weekend… and then you fall apart and now you have to start all over again?

I think most of us have experienced this at one point or another. It happens so often, in fact, that psychologist Dan Ariely gave it a name; the “What-The-Hell Effect.”

The What-the-Hell Effect is what happens when slipping once turns into a serious fall.

But here’s the thing; it doesn’t have to. We all slip. It’s when we compound that slip with self-shaming that it’s likely to turn into a plummet. 

I want you to remember this simple reality that can make a massive difference in your long-term success and happiness:

You are only ONE WORKOUT or ONE HEALTHY MEAL away from being back on track.

Here’s the reality…

“Starting all over again” doesn’t have to be a big production. All you have to do is eat a healthy meal (whatever that looks like for you) or make it to your next workout (heck, you can walk right out the door after a “cheat meal” and take a good walk and you’ll be back on track).

And, boom, you’re back!

That’s because if you adopt the “one workout or meal away” mindset, you are never “off” or “on” a program, you are simply living a fitness/wellness lifestyle.

(Trainer Tiffiny Hall has another great take one this with her 3 Hour Reset Rule.)

Your “cheat” meals suddenly aren’t “cheats”, they simply are meals that contain foods you don’t normally eat. They are no big deal! That’s because you know that with the next meal or the next workout, you’re back to your regularly scheduled lifestyle. 

Not only that, but you can finally stop feeling guilty if you eat something that’s not on your plan. 

Guilt is a complicated emotion. In small doses, it may help you stay on track. But too much guilt will poison to your mindset, results AND your happiness!

Research shows that self-guilt is not an effective, long-term motivator.Guilt can make you literally feel heavier and make it harder for you to make decisions… will zap your energy AND your ability to concentrate. 

The worst thing of all: guilt can tell you that you aren’t capable of achieving your goals and make you feel like you aren’t worthy of good things.

Not true and not productive.

So, if you must, take one minute to be upset with yourself and then remember: 

You are never more than ONE MEAL or ONE WORKOUT away from being right back on track.

Just make sure that next meal or that next workout is a good one, even if you don’t feel like it!  You’ll thank yourself later.  

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Jonathan Aluzas is co-owner of Arena Fitness, a fitness center that offers group training in Encino as well as personal training in Northridge.