Ah, the most coveted meal of the week. The one that everyone looks forward to only to hate themselves for later when their goals slip further and further away. The cheat meal is one of the most controversial topics in fat loss and athletic performance circles alike. It honestly boggles my mind that people put so much power in one meal. I eat an average of three full meals and two large snacks a day, so let’s say that’s four meals a day. That makes twenty-eight meals per week. Should I really be that concerned about 3% of my diet?
I’m not a fan of “cheat meals” for two reasons. One, it implies that someone is doing something that they should not be doing. They are cheating on their diet. They are ruining everything they are trying to accomplish. Two, cheat meals usually turn into cheat days, then cheat weekends, then “screw it, I’ll just be fat.” Sound familiar? I know I’ve heard this phrase a thousand times both in the gym and in personal conversation. I do not do cheat meals. This does not mean that I eat perfect every day of the week. I do, however, indulge in “Earned Meals.” I know it sounds like B.S.; I just call it by a different name, but that’s not the case. I earn my off-diet meal before I eat it. I’m not just doing the same thing every day and giving myself a treat for being a good boy all week. I put in extra work on top of the required work to earn that delicious sugary crap that’s going to make me feel terrible later. And I’m going to suffer with a smile on my face.
Think about going to Chuck E. Cheese or any of those arcades where kids spend a ton of money for tickets. The prizes are never worth the work or money their parents put in to getting them. Now, apply that to the earned meals. If I want a small apple pie with vanilla ice cream, I have three choices to earn that little piece of heaven. I can run five extra miles that week; I can put in three sessions of kickboxing on the bag; I can do an extra kettlebell circuit everyday that week. It does not matter which I choose, but one must be completed before I can indulge in my favorite sugar rush. 90 extra minutes worth of bag work for a five-minute snack sounds pretty unfair, but it should be. This is how I discourage myself from eating crap food. If it was an even exchange, I would be tempted to do it daily.
Always put in the work before the reward. It’s easy to say, “I’ll just work it off next week.” But how often does that happen? From my experience, very rarely.