How to Cheat without Really Cheating

Don’t try this at home!

While following my Summer Focus Challenge goals this week, I discovered I am very skilled at cheating without really cheating.  You know that expression about following the letter of the law, rather than the spirit?  That was me.

Here are some examples of how this played out:

For dinner at the Mexican restaurant this week, my goal was “no entree with ‘grande’ or ‘chubby’ or ‘fried’ in the name.”  When the group ordered fried ice cream to share, I had a bite or two before I realized it was “fried.”  But then I remembered my goal had nothing to do with dessert, only the entree.  Hmm, maybe there was some subconscious plotting at work when I was setting that goal and neglected to mention dessert or chips.

And I have done a great job of snacking less at night and sticking with my two snack limit.  But on more than on day I seemingly anticipated my upcoming evening restriction so I had another snack BEFORE dinner and just ate a bit later.  Sneaky.

And I have also done a great job of not eating while reading books.  But ask me how much I read this week!  Not very much.  Would I have picked up a book more often without the snacking restriction?  Probably.  So the goal worked, sort of.

I’m just trying to be honest here.  With myself as much as with you.  Yes, I met every one of my goals this week as I set them.  But, and this is a big but (and I have a big butt), I have to admit that I feel just a bit unsatisfied or guilty about what I did.  I am not being hard on myself, just honest and introspective.  You know that old saying – “We only cheat ourselves.”  So, I need to do some rethinking about how I am setting and meeting my goals.

But maybe not this week.  This week it will be particularly difficult for me to eat on plan.  We will be traveling.  This includes a seven hour drive (each way) and then a long weekend spent in a hotel.  Meals at restaurants.  Dinner at the home of in-laws.  And an all-day potluck wedding celebration.  Yikes!  I will pack lots of healthy snacks.  But mostly, I will steer clear of the worst of the worst when it comes to food and do the best I can.

I need official goals.  Think, Karen, think.  Okay, here goes:

  • For the few days while I am in my own house, I will stay on plan.  In the evenings I will continue to allow myself two snacks.  I will not practice the newly honed art of “afternoon sneaky snacking in anticipation of evening limited snacking.”
  • For the days that I am away from home, I will avoid refined carbs as much as possible.
  • For dinner at my in-laws, I will stay on plan as much as possible given whatever they choose to serve.  If I truly want dessert, I can enjoy a reasonable serving.
  • At the all-day potluck I will do my best to eat with self-control and moderation.  Whatever happens at the potluck, stays at the potluck.  But the moment I walk out the door I will again get back on my “healthy eating within the limits of traveling” plan.

And next week, when I am back home for seven whole days, I am going to set some goals for myself that address this whole letter-vs.-spirit-of-the-law thing.  No more cheating without really cheating.  Serious “no excuses of house guests or traveling” buckling down.  And then maybe the scale will start moving in the right direction!



Filed under cheating/overeating, dieting, goals

30 responses to “How to Cheat without Really Cheating

  1. I don’t know, Karen – when I read your write up my motto jumps into my brain to repeat to you :

    PROGRESS, not Perfection!

    PROGRESS, not Perfection!

    PROGRESS, not Perfection!

    PROGRESS, not Perfection!

    PROGRESS, not Perfection!

    Seems to me you’re doing quite well overall and just nitpicking the details with yourself. All well and good to push yourself along, but don’t negate what you DID accomplish because you can see the sliver of what you didn’t…

    Looks like you have a challenging week this week – good plans for it all, but it seems like a lot!

    • Karen

      I agree with your motto. Really, I do. But I also am trying to be honest with myself about my efforts. So while I made progress, and have made progress, I am also finding ways to backslide.

  2. Oh boy, this is gonna be tough for you! You’ve done well twice at the lake house now – you can do this too!! Your goals seem reasonable and doable. I am rooting for you!!

    Are you at the stage yet that you can turn away from all that temptation without feeling “deprived?” I’m not there yet and it’s where I want to be. I might do it through sheer willpower, but would still feel I’d missed out on something. Which means I’m still depending on the food to fulfill some kind of emotion, doesn’t it?

    • Karen

      Sometimes I can do that, sometimes I almost ache with wanting something. Last time I was at the lake I had not trouble not eating some key lime bars for dinner one night, but the next day I soooooo wanted bread or bagels. Didn’t eat them though, thanks to committing here. So that is helping some:)

      And that emotion thing – I am still wondering about it. The day I wanted that bread and bagels I was raging with emotion. But then this afternoon I want to eat and I wonder why. So much still to figure out.

  3. Having just had company for 4 days, I TOTALLY GET IT. I was OFF most of the week. Entertaining and being a tourist in my own city. I did try to move a lot, even if it meant taking the water taxi downtown and walking everywhere. And I tried to off set the red wine with salads and avoiding the bread basket. Good luck. I hope you enjoy yourself.

  4. Genie@dietof51

    You do have a challenging week ahead, but having a strategy is definitely going to help. At least you’re getting your brain ready for the battles. Theme from Rocky, please!

    Don’t get me started on sneaky diet stuff. I’m the Big-Butt and Thighs Queen of Cheating.

  5. Awareness and honesty are tools you absolutely have in your arsenal, as evidenced by this post. Good for you for spotting a sneaky tendency and just bringing it out in the open. That always helps me when the urge to continue a “confessed” behavior arises. Sounds like a challenging week in the food category, so your goals are realistic. Do not beat yourself up for any reason about imperfection! Wasted emotional energy!

    • Karen

      Thanks Leslie. I need to hold myself accountable to myself too, with this sneaky stuff. But sometimes I do deserve a little butt kicking.

  6. oh no – I have a similar week ahead of me — wedding celebration and five days on the road! But you can do it, I love your goals. I like what Sarah wrote, “progress not perfection”

  7. I agree with you it is incredibly difficult to travel and stay on track. It’s almost like the deck is stacked against us! You can do this, I have no doubt. 🙂

  8. Shining that spot light on your foibles in keeping to the letter of your goals takes guts. Hang tight this next few days and then just do your best. You can come out on the other side felling good about how you’ve done. Good luck!

    • Karen

      You are so sweet to make me seem almost brave about this:) The blog has a great way of making me much more introspective.

  9. You CAN do this!! It won’t be easy, but the fact that you’re thinking about it and planning I think is half the battle.

    I’m rooting for you!!!

  10. I agree with Sarah. Getting better is important. NOt getting to perfection is reality. But I do think you’ve got this. You’re being pretty reasonable.

  11. Oy, I think we’re cut from the same cloth. I didn’t blog about it much, but I did say something to the effect of “I exercised so much … and I ate more to make up for it.” So, yeah, I met my goal of exercising, but the eating completely eradicated that victory!

  12. Listen hear Mrs. Sneaky Snacker….since when are you stealing my cheating tricks?

    “What happens at the potluck stays at the potluck”….deep belly laugh…thanks…I know that had to burn a few calories for me….I’ll make sure not to use them up on sneaky snacking 🙂

    • Karen

      Well, part of me wanted to say I would not eat any junk there. And part of me wanted to say I could eat junk in moderation. And part of me wanted to wait and see just how delicious and junky the junk would be! The realist in me did not want to sit around for 6 hours that day feeling deprived. So the smart approach seemed to be to give myself a bit of a pass and move one. I guess maybe I should have committed to reporting back here about what I ate.

  13. Count me in with the ‘practice makes improvement’ crowd. You’re doing really well at moving toward your goals, finding what works and also discovering the loopholes to be closed. You’re setting boundaries and learning which ones are solid and which ones tend to shift. It’s ALL part of moving forward and you’re doing it splendidly!

  14. You can do it Karen even when traveling you can stay on plan and achieve your goals!

    Decide what your goal for the end of your trip is. What consequence at the end of the trip can you live with and be happy about? Lose weight, maintain your current weight or gain weight.

    Then figure out what you need to do to achieve your goal.

    You have time to plan and make it work. Wishing you well!

  15. Karen, I think you have some great goals & planning!!! As we all know, planning ahead is key!!!

    As for cheating without really cheating, here is my humble opinion. Little things add up. All those little calories count over time. If you eat them fast, they will show up quicker but it is those little bites here & there that are extra over & above your daily plan that kick you in the butt a few months down the line. All of a sudden you ar 5 or 7 pounds heavier & then in a year it is ten & so on.

    I am certainly not saying we can’t enjoy & plan for it. It is those pick here & there times but not count the calories that we need to be aware of..

    BUT, I must say you are doing great & planning
    is so important!!!!

    • Karen

      Funny you should say that. Because just today I was lamenting to my husband that even though my eating was not really that bad, the scale is going in the wrong direction. And I told him that my guess is that I have upped my calorie intake and even though in theory I should burn off more than what I was taking in, I think those extra calories were adding up fast. (My “plan” is about good carbs and not calorie counting but I have been tracking on fitday for awhile which is how I see them increasing.) I can tell you this – when I get back from this weekend, I am getting very serious! And I mean it!

      • You go Karen! Them sound like fighting words!!! 🙂

        I applaud & repsect those that use the IE mode of eating but I feel the one fall back is that without really knowing all the calories going in & out.. it is hard to just really know…. I am a portion control person & I know many don’t like this but it works for me & although I don’t count calories now, I did track back when & am always aware of where I am at as I have been at this a long time. If things are going in the wrong direction, I sure know where to look. 😉

        • Karen

          Oh no, I’m not an intuitive eater. (Maybe THAT is my problem.) I still sort of follow the South Beach diet, which, if you are not familiar with it, is about eating “good” carbs. Someday I do plan to write about it. Someday. In theory, if you follow the plan, you don’t need to count calories or carbs. But we all know that those darn calories still count. Sigh.

  16. Good luck I will be thinking of

  17. I’m confused…. isn’t cheating without cheating really just giving not cheating another name….?

    Good luck — I think you can do it — or not do it, or both 🙂

    • Karen

      Yes! But I was cheating myself and not cheating on the specific goals I stated. Semantics. I’m always coming back to semantics.

  18. Just keep the AWARENESS going. And try to keep yourself honest with yourself. You’ll be fine – have fun!

  19. Many mixed thoughts here from someone who knows very well the phenomenon of cheating without really cheating and of using semantics to do it. I guess the bottom line for me is that I know I’m cheating and know it sneaks up and up. So, yes, being honest about it and accountable to the scale or the way my clothes fit is very important and significant.

    That said, I do think your goals for the week ahead are well-phrased and that you will do well with them and with us cheering for you through it all.

    (((((big hugs)))))!

  20. Ini

    I do think you made good progress. So what it was not absolutely perfect. How many of us can meet all our goals? You did well. Of course you can’t be perfect in a day. Also afternoon snacking is much better than night snacking – the food gets lot more chance of burning off.



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