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Even the most “fitness oriented” and “healthy minded” individual gives in from time to time. I truly believe that people can only follow the straight and narrow for so long before caving in just a little. And a little is okay. Really, I just said that. BUT don’t go all apeshit crazy now. That is NOT okay. 🙂

Oh, I have to add here that I HATE the word “cheat”! I work damn hard and once in awhile it is okay to eat a slice of pizza at a birthday party. That is not cheating in my book. It is living. It is the Yin and the Yang of life. I eat salad and chicken and Greek yogurt and all the good “non-cheating” stuff 80% of the time. And there are times that the Twizzlers and the rye bread and butter somehow make their way into my shopping cart. When I am at a birthday party I do not pack a “healthy” meal, I go ahead and indulge in a little lite festive fare. I don’t party every week, so it is okay. I do workout 6 times a week though. I challenge myself physically and I am always looking for a new workout to try. There is balance. There is an ebb and a flow and that is what matters.

Here are the “cheating” ground rules.

1. Make SMART choices when you cheat. If you are craving a piece of chocolate choose a dark, organic variety. If bread and butter are your cup of tea, choose a whole grain variety (toasted rye is my FAVORITE) and a healthy butter alternative like Earth Balance or Brummmel and Brown All Natural Yogurt Butter (also my favorite). And stop at one SLICE, not one loaf.

2. Only eat what you love. How many times have you eaten something just because it’s in front of you? How many times have you cleaned your plate and the meal wasn’t even that good? Save your cheat calories for only foods you absolutely love.

3. Make good choices and healthy tradeoffs. Think about what you like the most. Do you want the appetizer more, or the dessert more? Instead of having every course offered, narrow down the choices to what’s most important to you.

4. Plan to cheat. One of the best things you can do is plan your cheat meals out. If you are jonesing for your favorite cheat meal for dinner, eat healthy during the day or do an extra cardio. Save calories on other snacks and meals to allow more room to cheat. If you are actively trying to lose weight, planning ahead will help you keep to your daily caloric requirements for fat loss. Which leads me to….

5. Pick one: Overeat or Over indulge calorie wise. If your idea of splurging is overeating, then eat healthy. If your idea is eating a high calorie cheat meal, then eat less of an unhealthy meal.

6. When in doubt – GRAB AND GO! Sweets and other “cheat” foods mess with your head, literally. The sugar and preservatives cause chemical reactions in your little brains that drives you back to that candy bowl. From now on, grab your Kit Kat when you are headed out of the door, and also grab a piece of fruit with it. Eating the fruit will ease the crash after the sugar high and it will also add in some fiber to the mix. And being no where near the candy bowl will help a lot too. Genius right?

7. Lastly, remove the guilt from your day. We are all human and we all experience moments of weakness. Dwelling on the bad of today whether it be about food or something else completely won’t change what happened, nor will it enhance you in any way. No body is perfect and that is what makes the idea of tomorrow to be so full of hope and promise. Awe…. a ray of sunshine.