Thursday, December 11, 2014

Cheat Meals - Okay or NOT?!

Cheat Meals throughout Fitness Journey Asian GIrl eating Ice Cream in Mexico
CHEAT MEALS - one of the biggest headaches for many of us who have been doing/ wanting to do clean-eating for our fitness journeys. It is one of the my most frequently asked questions from girls all around the world - do you allow yourself cheat meals? How often do you allow yourself a cheat meal? Can we do cheat meals at all? How will they impact our fitness journeys? I therefore hope that by writing this post, I can answer your questions as much as I can and you will find them useful for your fitness journey.

As many of you know that I started my fitness journey around 4 months ago and apart from regular work outs, I do clean-eating (you can find the details of my clean-eating habit and diet at http://stayfitandtravel.blogspot.hk/2014/11/clean-eating-diet.html). As the saying goes, abs are made in the kitchen - and therefore I strongly believe that eating habits and diet are essential to reaching your fitness goals no matter what they are, from losing weight to toning up and even bulking up. 
Fitness Journey Transformation Progress Photo Asian Girl
My experience with cheat meals, however, is quite different from a lot of the other girls who feel like they are having difficulty with sticking to clean-eating and would end up having one cheat meal here and there and eventually giving up the whole clean-eating. For me, when I first started Kayla's BBG (http://www.kaylaitsines.com.au/), I wanted to see progress and results so badly that I did not and COULD NOT allow myself even one cheat meal (or just one cheat BITE) for the first 12 weeks of my fitness journey. I simply could not do it. During that period, even though I was already eating very clean (and also quite a small amount), I constantly felt like I overate after every single meal and I would feel so bad and guilty about myself that I sometimes needed to throw up, especially when I felt like I ate something that was "less-clean" such as...cheese. I refused to eat even any white rice and my mum had to cook brown rice/ quinoa everyday. I would take out any ketchup/ dressing from my food when I eat out. And as my job required quite a lot of business lunches and dinners and the food's not always healthy, I would just sit there and refuse to take even one bite. LOL I know I know, I sounded totally crazy and super rude right? Good that I did not get fired.

The reason I was acting like that? For those of you who have done Kayla's BBG workouts will know that each of her exercise is a killer - and especially in the beginning when I was still quite unfit, all the workouts were extremely difficult and tough for me that it required huge amount of determination to tell myself to keep going and not give up during the 30 minutes of her workouts. As a result, my mindset was that if I ate even a bite of unhealthy food, all my hardwork and sweat in the workout before would go to waste - what's the point of working out so hard and then just gaining back all the fat just because a few bites of unhealthy food? Not worth it to me back then! 
Fitness Journey Transformation Progress Photo
How wrong was I! Deep in my heart I knew it was not a sustainable eating habit but I just could not force myself to change...until the day I completed 12 weeks of Kayla's BBG1.0. It was Halloween and me and my boyfriend went out to a Halloween dinner date at Bubba Gump. an American Seafood restaurant. For those of you who have been there would know that a lot of their famous dishes are FAR from what we would normally consider as clean food - i.e. Deep Fried Shrimps, BBQ Ribs, Deep Fried Chicken Wings, French Fries and etc. Given how I was acting that period, I was supposed to not eat anything except for salad (without dressing), but that night I suddenly felt like I just could not do this anymore. I had been a huge foodie my whole life and even though a lot of my homemade clean food is yummy, I just hadn't had deep fried food/ BBQ ribs for a freaking long time. So all of a sudden I found myself not being able to stop stuffing french fries, deep fried food and ribs into my mouth. I think I ate even more than my boyfriend. Growing up, I was actually never a fan of deep fried food but that night, anything deep fried somehow tasted heavenly to me. After pigging out, I felt so terrible myself that I went into the toilet to throw up everything because I was so scared that my 12 weeks of hard work would just go to waste. It was then that I realized - what I was doing was NOT HEALTHY OR SUSTAINABLE at all. Can I seriously not eat all those yummy food that I used to LOVE so much for the rest of my life?  I did not want to continue like that because I know it would drive me crazy and one day I might just have to start binge eating and give up the entire clean-eating habit. 

I know this is something completely mental and I am the only one who can change that. So ever since Week 13, I have been slowly making myself to be more relaxed now and allow myself 2-3 cheat meals a week. It is something that I am still working on but I have to say it is getting a lot better! I still clean-eat (and do vegetarian-only meals) during the weekdays but on weekends, I allow myself to eat whatever I want and to just enjoy and have fun. You will probably be surprised by what I eat for my cheat meals now - here are some examples:
Last Last Friday Dinner: Japanese All you can eat - including deep fried Soft Shell Crab. NOM
Last Last Saturday Lunch: Garlic and Cheese Naan Bread, Chicken Tomato Curry, Chicken Tikka
Last Week Friday Night: Korean BBQ Ribs with Cheese
Last Week Saturday Lunch: Potato Wedges with Melted Cheese on Top
Last Week Saturday Dinner: Escargots in Garlic and Butter, French Onion Soup with Melted Cheese, Deep Fried Cheese, Lobster Bisque

Haha yes it is a lottttt of cheese - I am a huge cheese lover!

What are the impacts of these cheat meals on me you might ask? One thing - I am happier ,more relaxed, and people around me also enjoy eating with me a lot more. And that's it. My abs did not disappear, my belly did not get fatter - instead, I am seeing progress and positive results every single week because I am still eating healthy for over 90% of my meals through out the week and I still work out and exercise (and adding up the weights in resistance training) every week. Like the saying goes, you are not going to suddenly become fit and healthy because you eat ONE healthy meal, per week just like you are not going to become fat and unfit because of ONE (or two ;p) cheat meal a week (:

How do I deal with cravings throughout the week then? I find cooking and experimenting with healthy and delicious recipes help a lot. I know I am not one who can eat salads for every meal. I am too much of a foodie! One of my hobbies right now is to make and bake delicious and healthy food – it is fun and the food is so yummy! Such as my homemade guilt-free pizzas/ pancakes/ cheesecake/ french toasts and etc etc etc hahaa (recipes can be found at http://stayfitandtravel.blogspot.hk/search/label/Recipes). When all of your clean food is delicious, it is no longer that difficult to eat clean. I find it also useful to tell myself that, during the week I would push myself harder in order to ‘deserve’ the reward when the weekend comes!
Healthy Food Recipes
Oh and another thing that I do is - I would add extra cardio such as one more HIIT the next day if I feel like I really had a big cheat meal and want to do something about it (other than throwing up). 

I guess what I am trying to say is, cheat meal is not all bad. It can make your fitness journey and lifestyle a lot more sustainable and life more enjoyable! Of course, it is not a must and for those of you who never feel like a craving for unhealthy food - then you are one of the very few lucky ones (:

Hope you find this post useful to your fitness journey and stay tuned for more fitness related posts by subscribing to my blog!

Emi xx
@stayfitandtravel

26 comments:

  1. Great post - really honest and inspiring! I'm glad you've found a healthy balance and are loving both clean and naughty foods.

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    1. Thank you! I am glad you enjoy reading it(:

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  2. This was incredibly helpful! I actually found it comforting to know that you were struggling with the workouts of Kayla in the beginning too, as I actually just started with the workouts (I'm in week 3). I really struggle with the arm-workouts, I can't even do more than 10 push ups...Also I have a question: I really want to do a HIIT workout on the treadmill, but the truth is, I'm afraid of running on the treadmill because I always think that I will trip and fall, what do you recommend? Is there another way I can do a HIIT workout? Or do you have an idea how I can overcome my treadmill-fear? haha Thanx in advance, love your blog and instagram!

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    1. Glad you found my post useful and I just want you to know that even though I am on Week 18 now, i still cannot do 10 pushups properly - i mostly have to do them on my knees so it is still a challenge for me. Girl i would say - conquer your fear and jump onto that treadmill! I was so scared of it too but then i went to the gym and practiced with my boyfriend - we started with slower speed and only increased the speed once I felt more comfotable with it. You can do splinting for HIIT without the treadmill too ( just do it outdoor) and if you look for HIIT on youtube there are also many different videos teaching different ways to do HIIT such as burpees. But i myself love doing it on a treadmill (; hope my answer helps!

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  3. Hey Emi :)
    your post made me feel way better than I did before, thank you! Your whole blog is awesome and helps me to eat cleaner and bettter at all. However I've got a few questions and I would be so grateful if you had some time to answer them (: Did I understand you right, that you allow yourself to eat cheatmeals/ whatever you want for the WHOLE weekend or just 2-3 times per weekend? And do you count, for example a chocolate bar, as a whole cheatmeal? Aaaaaand are all these tasty recipes on your blog (like http://stayfitandtravel.blogspot.hk/2014/11/2-minutes-microwave-chocolate-mini-cake.html or http://stayfitandtravel.blogspot.hk/2014/11/fluffy-parmesan-cheese-muffins.html) cheatmeals or is it ok to eat them during the week as a clean and healthy meal? And one last question: What do you think about eating oatmeal as an evening meal?
    I think that's it, sorry for the long text haha ;p and sorry for the bad english (I'm from Germany).
    Please keep going, you're such a big role model for me and pretty sure also for millions of other young girls! (:
    xx Anna

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    1. Hello Anna! Thank you for your kind words (: to answer your questions - i allow myself 2-3 cheat meals per weekend and for a chocolate bar, if it is a healthy one i will not count it as a cheat meal but if it is one of those super high in sugar, then for sure yes I will count it! And for all of the tasty recipes on ny blog NONE of them are cheat meals! They are all perfectly healthy and clean food - i just like to make them yummy thats all :p and yes you can eat oatmeal as an evening meal but just remember to not over eat a certain food group in a day (you can take a look at my clean eating diet post for more details (: ) and dont worry your english is fine! Thank you again and let me know if you have any more questions xx

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  4. Thank you for your honesty. It's inspiring to read about your journey with food. It's not easy to reveal yourself to thousands of women. *Because* you are so influential, it was a little disconcerting to see how casually you speak about "throwing up" a meal. This act is recognized as a disorder called bulimia (in many countries, I would imagine). I'm sure you were already aware, but please be careful about framing this within a casual context. Thousands of girls might interpret it as acceptable.

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    1. I am well aware of that and there is nothig casual about it - i do not know how else you would like me to frame it. As you know that it is already not easy to share this on the internet and if you have followede me for a while you will also know that I have not shared this info ever before. It is therefore not easy to write about it to the public and I wrote it the way that I felt the most comfortable to tell my story. I stated very clearly that it was something not healthy and sustainable and it was the changing point for me to start doing more cheat meals. It was a serious struggle that I had been through and it was disappointing and saddening to know that this is how you feel about my story - that I took it casually.

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  5. Hi!

    Thank you for your helpful and honest blogpost. I have several questions for you and I hope you are able and willing to answer them.
    After looking at all those transformation pictures on Instagram myself for two-three months I finally decided to start the BBG. I am in week 5 now and love and hate it at the same time.
    I have been struggling with bulimia for many years now and therefore your blogpost spoke to me.
    Since I have started the BBG I have throw up twice (i know: this is two times too much, but a huge accomplishment for me), both times after having way too much to eat (think about a cheat meal, but maybe a bit more than that. Say a cheat meal + dessert). Instead of feeling happy that the food was out of my body, I felt guilty for throwing up. But the next days, I felt fat and ugly. I don't know why I tell this, but I guess I do because I want you to know that I do not judge you. I think it is brave to share this, I really know how hard this can be.

    I have some questions:
1. Did you have an eating disorder before starting BBG?
2. Did you throw up during the first 12 weeks or only in the end?
    3. I decided to do BBG because I want my life back. I don't want to be constrained anymore, to always have to count calories and only feeling happy if you lost yet another kilo. However, I am a little concerned about this when looking at the BBG community. My question is: Is this fitness & healthy eating „Lifestyle” not becoming an obsession?? And therefore being unhealthy?
    3. I think it is very good what you are doing now - having more cheat meals and really being HEALTHY (instead of pretending to be healthy!!!!). I am just wondering how you cope with the guilt feeling that emerges after eating too much? (And what about the guilt feeling after throwing up?)
4. Christmas and NYE are coming up which for me means 10 days of dinners and lunches with friends and family. I see this as a real challenge and I am so afraid! Do you maybe have some tips for me? That would be so helpful.

    Thank you! Keep up the good work!

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    1. Hello there! Thank you so much for sharing your story with me it means a lot to me. I actually do not know anyone around me who has experienced the same thing and I am really glad to know that I am not the only one. I actually have not shared it with anyone including my family/ friends before I wrote on this post so it's really quite frightening to now have the world know that I have the problem of throwing up after I eat. So thank you for your comment it means a lot!
      To answer your questions
      1. For me it is a little bit different because I actually had a minor surgery around 1 year ago with my intestines that afterwards, the situation with my intestinal system was so bad that a lot of times I DO NEED to throw up after I eat - not because of feeling like I over eat or whatsoever but because my tummy would hurt so bad and feel so much gas inside that I had to throw up. So it was not really an eating disorder but more like my body was just so weak and was in a bad place. Before that, I very rarely threw up after I ate so I would not consider myself having an eating disorder. After my intestinal situation got better, I could eat again no problem and I only started throwing up after I ate since I started BBG. I actually did it during the first 12 weeks, not frequently but I have to admit I did it.
      3. It is not really an obsession I would say. I think it depends on your mindset really. Like of course a lot of girls would get obsessed with it - after all seeing so many other people with crazy transformation, they would naturally want to have the same progress and might do extreme things in order to achieve it. I know because I was one of them. But I do not think it is the BBG's fault because it is designed to help us girls get healthy, fit and happy. So it is really up to us on how we want to do it. I have to say I was a bit too obsessed during BBG1.0 but now on BBG2.0 I am a lot more relaxed and I feel happy, not constrained and also a lot stronger! (:
      4. I think I started slowly..like maybe the first week I would have only a small cheat meal, and then the next day I see that I am still fit and my abs are still there hahaha so I began to take more cheat meals and when you see that your progresss is not really affected by 2-3 cheat meals a week, you will become more relaxed about it (: and it is important to have the support of those around you. My boyfriend is extremely supportive and he always tell me, see? you are still fit even though you had a cheat meal the day before! and it is true because my progress photos say so. So I would recommend you to start slowly, one meal at a time xx
      5. I would really suggest you to get more relaxed during Christmas and NYE! After all.. these are the occasions to celebrate and be happy and to STOP worrying about how much you eat and etc. Just try to pick healthier options when you eat out and eat moderate amount of food - and ADD UP your cardio instead. Which will make you feel healthier and happier rather than feeling guilty and worried all the time (:

      Hope my answer helps xx

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  6. Hi Emi! You have been both an inspiration and a motivation to me because of your Instagram posts. I have a few q's and i hope you can answer them :-)

    1. I'm only 14 years old, Kayla's bbg recommends 16+. Would it be ok to do her workouts and diet?

    2. I can't eat healthily because I'm always tempted by alot of things, + healthy food is so expensive! Thus I eat very irregularly and get very guilty when I eat alot of junk. I eat alot of carbohydrates too, come at that. Would it affect me?

    3. I'm at this point where I'm always counting calories and being so conscious of what I eat and feelig all fat and guilty when I gain grams. do you know any tips to prevent that?

    4 Christmas is coming and i feel worried that i'll go crazy. Do you have any tips for that too?

    5. Binge eating, oh my gosh, how do you combat that?

    Thank you :)

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    1. Hello! Thank you so much for your kind words x to answer your questions:
      1. I really cannot answer this question for Kayla as she is the one who wrote the guide and there must be a reason she put that age recommendation. I highly suggest you to email her support team to ask (: they are very friendly and will reply you I am sure!
      2. Eating will have a huge impact on your health and fitness journey for sure (: But dont worry as you are 14 and your body needs the food to grow and your metabolic rate is high too! I would say, try to make healthier choices with your determination, but remember not to starve yourself. and carbohydrates are good! (: I eat a lot too it is what fuel your workouts and to give you energy! xx
      3. DO NOT count calories! To me it is not a healthy and sustainable way for a fitness journey as it is easy to get too obsessed and also forget to just enjoy food sometimes. I would suggest you to stop counting calories for at least 2 meals a day, and then slowly slowly make yourself stop counting calories at all (: it is all about the determination after all!
      4. Same for christmas, its okay to relax a little bit (: i would say just tell yourself not to get too crazy, and keep exercising through it!
      5. for me I think cheat meals really help (: to satisfy your cravings!

      Hope my answers helped xx

      Best,
      Emi

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  7. I just love your blog! You're so honest and I love your recipes. It's also nice that you post so often :-)

    Have a great weekend! <3

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    1. Hello Amanda! Thank you so much (: that means a lot - you have a great weekend too babe! x

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  8. Thank you for this post! I love reading your blog in general but this post was very helpful and informative! One question for you, is alcohol included in your "diet" at all? Thanks!

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    1. Thank you so much for the kind words - you can read about my story with alcohol on "my story page". I quit alcohol completely - hope you find it useful x

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  9. Yes, I remember reading about it but didn't know if you cut it out completely. Thank you for your response :)

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    1. don't worry, you are welcome (:! It is actually a daily struggle because I work in the wines and spirits industry but for me it's just a personal life choice that I have alcohol completely cut out from my life (:

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  10. Hi Emi, thank you for this great post. I'm doing a second round of BBG 1.0 now and currently finished week 4. But a few days ( after finishing week 4 ) I went out with friends to have some Mexican food and due to the poor quality of the food, my friends and I got diarrhea. I was the one who got it worst because I had this inflammation in my intestine a couple of months ago and I think the food poisoning made it come back and I have been really dizzy and a high fever also a really upset stomach this few days. I have been eating considerably clean and sometimes when I have a cheat meal or some fried stuffs I would feel terribly bad and my stomach would get upset too. My weight has dropped a lot too after I got sick a few months ago. My parents are really worried about my weight loss and my eating habit and might fear all this clean eating might be ruining my body system.�� I have cut out half of my carbs intake during the BBG, I would only have half a bowl of rice than the usual one bowl of rice. And also I cut down a lot of my food intake. Is all this cutting bad for me? Sorry for the messy post. Hope that you can help me. Thanks!

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    1. Hey I just want to say, I totally get you. Not sure if you read my story but I had a surgery a year ago and it was actually an intestinal surgery - after that I had so many problems with my intestines and it's been a torture for months. For me, clean eating is good for me because they do not upset my instestinal system and stomach as much - and by eateing healthy and balanced meals, I have not had any upset stomachs for a long time! So clean eating will not ruin your body system because clean eating only means eating healthy. But yes cutting down so much of your food intake can be bad for you - if you are exercising enough, I do not suggest you to cut down so much food in your diet. I actually eat quite a lot now (I also cut down too much food during the first 8 weeks of BBG and I lost too much weight) and I look a lot healthier and fitter! Hope this helps (: x

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    2. and from my experience, I think it is good to avoid deep fried/ oily/ spicy food if your stomach and intestines are sensitive (:

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    3. Thank you so much for the reply:)

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  11. Did you follow kaylas meal guide or did you eat your own clean meals? Because I eat clean but follow the nutrient guideline like 6 serves of grains etc. I'm kinda worried I wont get results even though I know what I eat is clean xx

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    1. You can find the details of my clean eating diet at my blogpost http://stayfitandtravel.blogspot.hk/2014/11/clean-eating-diet.html (: x

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