Good morning, my lovelies! At long last, I have returned, as promised, cheerful and feeling infinitely better!
A quick update: my reverse diet, though difficult and imperfectly executed, is more or less on track and going well. At now five weeks post-competition, I am up just about a pound from my stage weight, and my calories are up about an average of 150-200 a day, for a weekly increase of a little over 1000. I am no longer impatient and having daily panic attacks, and I have a pretty good handle on how to properly use my emotions once again. I’m feeling strong- squats are back up into the 200s for working weights on my heavy days, deadlifts back in the high 200s, overhead presses approaching 90 again. Hitting PRs on Pendlay rows on the regular- 135 for reps, last week, and 140 this week! As an added though unintended bonus, I still have striated delts, too! Luckily, I managed to escape largely unscathed, having caught my problems fairly quickly, I was able to get a handle on them pretty quickly. Lessons were learned, and subsequent contest preps will be executed accordingly.
So speaking of diet and healthy approaches to it…
How many of you have seen while scrolling through your Instagram or Facebook feed, a photo of a truly disgusting meal? A XXL caramel vanilla shake with chocolate syrup, perched daintily next to two slices of cheese and bacon-stuffed crust sausage and gummy bear pizza with a side of deep fried cookie dough egg rolls topped in hazmat orange nacho cheese, to be followed immediately by a dessert of Butterfinger-stuffed carne aside burritos with maple syrup dipping sauce, with the caption “CHEAT MEAL!!!” Yeah. I’m not double-tapping that. I love pizza. I love bacon. I eat them both pretty regularly. But I am not. double. tapping. that.
Think of the last time you encountered the word “cheat,” and it had a positive connotation.
- He cheated the system.
- My student was caught cheating on his math test.
- My girl cheated on me.
Negative, negative, negative.
But when you put the word “meal” after it, I’m supposed to rejoice in your gluttony? No sir, I do not think that’s how this works.
Why on earth would you subscribe to a diet wherein you celebrated cheating? Put that same spin on a relationship. If you were so bored with your relationship, so dragged down by it, that you constantly looked forward to cheating, would you think that that was a healthy, long-term sustainable relationship? And not just cheating once, but, like, GROSSLY cheating. It starts with a quick one night stand (cheat meal: a piece of pizza, or a martini with a friend), and before you know if you’re pelvis deep in a 10 person orgy and you are going to feel really, really bad when you wake up tomorrow (suddenly it’s a cheat day, and you’re cramming every possible thing in your face that you can- doughnuts and cheeseburgers and bags of Reese’s cups and croissants and everything you’ve denied yourself for however long). Things got way, way out of hand. And now you feel guilty.
WHY?! Why is this glorified? Any friend who saw this happening in a relationship would look at you and be like, “Bro, you need to break up with her! This is clearly not working.” But when it comes to diet, we turn the other cheek. It’s ok to binge and get nuts, let’s laugh and post photos of it, because for the last ten days you’ve eaten dry grilled chicken and spinach? No. Bro, you need to break up with your diet. You’re going to get nutritional herpes like that. Or at least, you’re seriously setting yourself back, regardless of what your goals are.
Why do we do this? Why as a fitness community have we made this unhealthy relationship accepted and celebrated? This is not ok. This is equivalent to saying that abusing boyfriends are fine, and normal, as long as it only happens every once in a while and the rest of the time he’s pretty nice to you!
People who subscribe to this sort of eating are often the type who can’t have treats in the house, because it’s too tempting. Seeing that box of Cheerios sitting on the shelf is too much. One handful, not a chance. Once it’s open, the whole box is going down. You’ve already screwed up this bad, right? May as well just cram it all in and start tomorrow. Four thousand calories later you’ve eaten the wallpaper and your stomach hurts so badly you can’t even make it to bed. How do I know? Experience. Me and those Cheerios used to get down hard. And that’s called a binge.
But it doesn’t have to be like that. Stop thinking about food as bad. Cookies aren’t the girl you aren’t with, that you’re just seeing on the beach in a bikini while walking along with your plan-ass asparagus girl. No! Cookies are the “freak-in-the-bed” that your girl is behind closed doors! Of course you’ve got that spinach happening too, but oooooh, you got cookies too! You can have it all. YOU CAN. And I would argue that you should. For the sake of your own sanity and long-term sustainability of your diet, the relationship you will have your entire life. You just have to learn how to balance it. You can have a bag of mini Milky Ways in your cupboard. Maybe not today. But you can learn how to manage that, with practice.
You are not better or worse than anyone else because you “eat clean” “most of the time.” You are not better or worse than anyone else because you lose your shit and eat everything in sight once a week or once a month. You ARE setting yourself up for failure. Oreos and lasagna exist, and you are going to want them. Don’t make yourself feel bad about that. They aren’t out to get you. But managing them is the key. It is arguably much better to eat these “cheat” food every day, in small amounts, than to get super crazy on them on the weekends.
For me, this means that every single day I have dessert. Sometimes it’s as simple as some protein powder mixed into Greek yogurt and frozen. Sometimes it’s a cookie or two. But every. single. day. I eat dessert. Because that makes my life feel good.
And you know what? Starting is hard. The first month? It’s really hard. But I so strongly believe in this, in curating and nurturing this healthy relationship, and I’ve been asked by so many people recently to help them get started, that I am working on putting together some information to help you get started too.
So let’s break up with cheating, shall we? Your favorite foods don’t have to incite that level of guilt. Let’s break up with that awful word once and for all and stop pretending it’s a happy thing. Let’s strike a balance, and have happy, strong, safe relationships with food.
And also with your significant other. Don’t cheat on them either.
Metaphors are hard.