THE BLOG
12/12/2013 05:10 pm ET Updated Feb 11, 2014

The Right Way to 'Cheat'

Sticking to your plan or routine can be easy during the week when you have a set routine. As the weekends and social gatherings come around, we often look at them as an opportunity to indulge and enjoy some calorie rich foods. While it is always good to have a nice treat and break from a strict regimen, most people will go overboard and actually set themselves back in the long run. No, one bad meal will not make you fat, just like one good meal won't make you skinny. So be sure to enjoy a nice treat every once in a while... just not every day. Remember that progress and change are the products of hard work and consistency.

As a fitness competitor and model, I am usually on a specific meal plan that will help me reap the benefits of all my hard work in the gym. Each week I plan a meal that will help satisfy my cravings. Once I have that meal I get back on track with my regular "clean eating" routine. Keep in mind this is not always easy and sometimes can be a struggle.

Once upon a time I used to really go overboard during this cheat meal by ordering an appetizer, main course, side of fries and maybe some frozen yogurt topped with all kinds of sugary goodness. It was as if I would use this cheat meal as an all out binge session. During the meal, I would feel happy BUT that initial feeling of happiness was soon followed by feeling miserable -- physically and emotionally. I would eat so fast that I would end up overeating food that my body was not used to digesting. Hello stomach aches! And I wasn't really eating out of hunger; I was just mindlessly or emotionally eating. I then noticed my progress in training would fall behind because I would feel so horrible and bloated for the next two days that I would not train to my full potential.

So rather than falling into a downward spiral of self loathing and the "I'm fat" cries for attention, I DID something about it. The same can go for you! Next time you are going to have a cheat meal ask yourself a few questions mid meal:

1. Am I eating this just to eat it?

2. Am I full?

3. Is what I am about to eat going to make me feel miserable physically (e.g., stuffed or you know from eating that type of food in the past gives you stomach aches and indigestion)?

4. Is what I am about to eat going to make me feel miserable mentally or emotionally (e.g., will you "regret" eating it later, "beat yourself up" or give into negative self-talk for going overboard and not controlling yourself)?

If you answer yes to any of these questions, then maybe enough is enough...

Far too often I hear of people going overboard with their cheat meal -- which turn into day-long bingers. Stop the madness and take control of your life and do what will make you happy. Think long term satisfaction rather than immediate or short-term satisfaction.

A plan of attack to help you "cheat" the right way:

1. Have a set idea of what it is that you would like to eat
2. Make your meal at home so you can control the ingredients used and portion sizes
3. Keep your cheat meal to a MEAL not a day
4. If you choose to eat out, split an appetizer and have your own main course OR
5. Have a main meal and split a desert
6. If eating at a restaurant chain, ask for a to-go box when your food is delivered and split your meal in half. This will prevent eating just because the food is in sight. If you are still hungry after eating, you can always finish the rest
7. Don't bring home any leftovers. Doing this does not give you the freedom to just devour it so you aren't 'wasting food'

As I stated in the beginning of this blog, "One bad meal will not make you fat, just like one good meal won't make you skinny." Getting back on track will take time, hard work and consistency. Try some of these tips and be mindful of what you are consuming. You will be more satisfied with healthier choices in the long run.