Art of the Cheat Meal
Posted on July 9th, 2012
Here’s a quick question. What can be learned from Pete Townsend’s famously bad hearing and my auditory experience from a completely awesome, completely ear shattering AC/DC concert? Oh, there’s a lesson. There’s always a lesson.
If you are at all familiar with The Who, you’ll know that Pete the guitar player is rather famous for his noise induced hearing loss. As it happens, standing in front of amplifiers and pounding drum solo’s for the better part of 40 or 50 years is really, really bad for your ears. The loss is the cumulative effect of a chronic stimulus.
Now, fast forward to just a few years ago when I checked a major item of my life list…seeing AC/DC live in concert. As you would expect, this was simply fantastic. Angus shredded guitar and ran around the stage in a little school boy outfit. Brian Johnson screeched his way through all of the hits. They exploded fireworks. They shot off cannons! What’s not to love, apart from losing my hearing in the ear that faced the stage speakers?
I was fine. Even though I was blasted with decibels for two-hours, this was still just an acute stress. A few days later the incessant ringing faded away and I was left with nothing but the memories, thank god.
Mind the curse
I’ve written before about the curse of medium - the half effort, taking it easy, just going through the motions type of routine. I truly believe that this approach should be avoided most of the time. You just do not get anything out of it.
In career, training…anything really, make sure that you work really hard or rest really hard. Anything else is just not enough to make a change. The same outlook can be applied to your diet.
What, you wanted an example? …Lucky you.
Let’s make a few assumptions. First, you represent the average person who is trying to lose some weight. You want the weight off, so you’re exercising and reducing your calories. That’s a great start. But there’s the second assumption. Like any normal human being, you are tempted from time to time with the bad stuff. Look, I don’t care how dedicated you are to the Zone Diet or the Paleo lifestyle. No one walks by a display of chocolate croissants without seriously considering jumping in head first. This makes you normal.
You can make one of two choices.
First, you could pacify yourself. “Oh, that looks good. You know what? I’ve been good all week. I’ll just have one. Just a bite. Just a little sip.“ This is the slippery slope of medium. The cumulative scourge. One bite becomes two, then three. A little cheat occurs on a Tuesday night, then again on Thursday. On Friday your coworker brings in a birthday cake for that lunch party, and oh well, “I guess I’ll have just one piece.” Hey, keep it up and you’ll be deaf before you know it.
Or, you could reject the cumulative medium and go for the acute stress.
Yes, you’ve been good all week. Yes, those croissants are to die for! Why are we even pretending that they aren’t? So give in, but give in all the way. But don’t taste. Buy a dozen and eat them all! Yes, really! Eat as many as you can. Just make sure that, by the end of this little exercise, you simply cannot stomach the idea of another bite. I cannot stress that enough. Spend the rest of the evening nursing your sour stomach, severely regretting the decision.
You see, something amazing happens with this approach. For the next five days or so, you will not be tempted by the random treat. You will pass right on by that office cake. All thanks to the fresh memory of how miserable you were just a few days earlier. Simple and effective, no?
Over the long-term, these little acute binges mean that your overall calorie consumption will be down. That will certainly help you with that weight loss goal. You will definitely not feel deprived. And in an odd little twist, you may even see your loss accelerate. As it turns out, your body likes to be reassured that you are not trying to kill yourself via starvation! A little calorie bump on a Sunday afternoon is just the sort of thing that will allow your body to recover from a week’s worth of work and deprivation.
Just follow the rules.
- For 6 days, stick to your plan. That means no cheats for crissakes! Seriously.
- On day 7, sit down to a meal including whatever your heart desires. Just remember that we’re talking a cheat meal here, not an extended cheat weekend binge. Keep it acute!
- On the evening of day 7, curse yourself for what you have done. Be miserable. Unbutton your pants.
- Start day 1 renewed. “I will never do that again! No way!”
But hey, just like on Reading Rainbow, you don’t have to take my word for it. Just give it a try.
Go forth. Cheat epically.