Personal trainer and American journalist Jenna Wolfe says it best: “You didn’t gain all your weight in one day; you won’t lose it in one day. Be patient with yourself.”
Weight loss doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a long journey that can trip anyone up along the way. That’s also not something to feel guilty about – falling off the wagon – as long as you just get right back on.
I, too, fell off the wagon a couple of times during my weight loss journey.
The secret to weight loss success
The secret is to start afresh the next day without beating yourself up about it. Never say: “Oh well, I’ve cheated now, so I might as well just continue with this for the rest of the week and start again on Monday.”
That is the biggest mistake you can make. One meal or one day’s “cheat” won’t cause nearly as much damage as a whole week’s bad eating habits. Just write that piece of cake off as a bad day and move on. You’ll feel much better and now that your cake craving has been satisfied, chances are that you’ll stick to your healthy eating plan for the rest of the week.
Another big diet mistake I feel many people make is not allowing themselves any treats. It’s natural for us to crave certain foods – especially carbs and something sweet. I believe one of my secrets to weight loss was the fact that I allowed myself two cheat meals a week for the first two or three years of my weight loss journey.
It did take me a little longer to lose weight, but I think that was the key to my success and one of the reasons why I’ve managed to keep the weight off. I didn’t feel deprived then and I don’t feel deprived now.
Below is an example of my eating plan:
- Breakfast: 30g low carb muesli with ½ cup strawberries and small double cream or full cream plain/Greek yoghurt.
Another breakfast option could be 2 eggs, a slice of wholewheat toast with half an avocado.
- Mid-Morning Snack: 50g lean biltong
- Lunch: Protein (steak, fish, chicken) with green beans or salad and half a sweet potato or brown rice.
- Afternoon Snack: 25 almonds (handful)
- Dinner: Protein (steak, fish, chicken) with green vegetables or salad. No carbs at night.
How to incorporate cheat meals into your eating plan
Have one cheat meal on a Wednesday and a Sunday. You can choose whether you want to make your cheat meal lunch or dinner. I find that a cheat meal for dinner works best, otherwise you might crave more cheat foods in the evening.
Follow the above eating plan as is – but no carbs, fruit, dairy or sugar are allowed during the day of your cheat meal. For your cheat meal you can literally have anything your taste buds desire, whether it’s pizza, a burger or pasta. Plus, you can have dessert as well – a chocolate, ice cream, etc.
The next morning you just go back to your normal healthy eating plan.
By doing it this way it might take a little longer to lose the weight, but it’s a lifestyle that you will be able to maintain.
Because if you think about it, why do most people abandon their healthy eating habits? Your cravings drive you to the nearest fast-food outlet and you feel deprived all the time.
By satisfying your cravings you’re eliminating the risk of going back to your unhealthy eating habits.
When I first started my weight loss journey, I constantly lost between 500g and 1kg every week. I eventually started dropping a cheat meal and now only have one a week. It’s still enough to keep those cravings for unhealthy foods at bay.
Don’t miss next week’s columns for tips on how I got into an exercise routine.
About the author:
Xanet is an award-winning journalist who has won numerous awards for her health and wellness articles, including being a finalist for the Discovery Journalist of the Year in 2009. She fell in love with fitness in 2013 when she started her weight loss journey. Having lost almost 20kg and 20% body fat, she understands how to be fit and healthy while still enjoying your life and having that glass of wine and cupcake when you crave it.