No Honor in Cheating

It has taken me a while to figure out how I want to go about writing this post.  I want all of you to know that this post is NOT directed at any one person.  This post is about how I am going about losing weight.  I hope that it doesn’t make you feel bad. I hope it motivates you.

Cheat days are stupid.

Sorry for saying it so bluntly. Let me revise it. Cheat days for me would be stupid, and they are stupid for anyone who has a lot of weight to lose. If you are already fit and you want to “take a day off,” then you go for it. I am trying to lose weight though and cheat days will only set me back. There is ABSOLUTELY NO REASON that I should take a break from counting my daily calories if I am physically able to. If I want to lose weight then there is NO COMPROMISE.

Cheat days are a sign that losing weight is not a priority. Cheat days are also a sign that healthy eating has not become a mindset yet.

I posted on my wall at, a few weeks ago, that I did not want a hall pass in my marriage and I do not want one in my eating habits either. I said that cheat days are a sign that I cannot let go of my former self.

Several people have asked me what “diet” I am doing to lose the weight I am.  I have told everyone that asks that I am not on a diet. I am on a lifestyle change in which I exercise daily and track my caloric intake. I tell them that there is no room for me to eat uncontrollably and with no accountability.  That is how I USED to live and it is a way I never want to go back to. I liken it to a Bible verse that I remember from high school. The verse is from the book of Corinthians (I hope that you don’t run off just because I am quoting the Bible here) and it says that once you decide to live for Christ you are a new person and that the old ways have died.  I think you can truly tell the people who are Christ-followers by how they live.  I will not even begin to go into the fact that there are LOTS of people who say they are Christians but do not live like Jesus demonstrated.  That’s another post for another blog so please don’t leave nasty comments about bad “Christians.” We all know that there are lots of those. Just the same, there are LOTS of people who say they want to lose weight yet do not act as though they are serious and would do whatever it takes…

Even if you are not a follower of Christ, the verse holds meaning.  I think about the way of life that made me fat.  I think about how I do not want to be fat anymore.  Therefore if I do not want to live this way anymore I should die to my old ways and fully embrace my new ways. My new way of life includes thinking completely differently about food.  ESPECIALLY since I am not at a healthy weight.  If my body is a temple then I want to make sure that I am feeding it things that are going to make me healthy.

But let me tell you that I have no problem treating myself.  I just CANNOT think of food as a reward. If I am eating healthy 98% of the time, it isn’t going to kill me to have a slice of pizza on Friday night with a nice cold 90 minute IPA.  I just can’t do it every other night or even every Friday.  I have to remember that I am on a mission to lose weight and to live a healthy life. If I look at food as a reward then I am giving it an association that is dangerous to my overall health. To devote a whole day to your old unhealthy life is tantamount to destroying your whole frame of mind as far as I am concerned. Your frame of mind should be that a cheat day is devastating to your weight loss progress.  If you aren’t there, then you aren’t really concerned about changing your lifestyle completely. Tough words. But true. You should eat to live, not live to eat.

I should eat to live, not live to eat.

If I live by that principle then I should be concerned with putting, almost exclusively, food into my body that will nurture me and encourage health and well-being.  If you look at food with those eyes then the things that used to tempt you will be less appealing.  A treat will seem satisfying, but not some incredible experience that completes you and defines you.

You have to know that unhealthy food is a slow acting poison. It is imperative that you understand that.

There will always be foods though that tempt you to binge.  I encourage you to stay away from those as an alcoholic should stay away from booze if it is too tempting.  But some people have more self control.  I am sure that AA will disagree with the analogy but… If you can eat just one Jo-Jo without killing the whole box then go for it. If you can eat a country ham biscuit once a month without sneaking back for another or falling off the wagon, then why not. If it is your anniversary, then do it up (in moderation). Just make sure you log the calories. And if you can’t do those things without letting it turn into a binge, then stop and ask yourself WHY AM I POISONING MYSELF.

The eventuality, if you can maintain the mind set, is that you will lose the weight and you will get healthy.  And through that you will have adopted a lifestyle that will help you maintain a healthy weight and a healthy lifestyle.

So to conclude, sorry for stepping on toes, but there is no honor in cheating, and there is no winning in cheating either. I am in this to win.

I want to lose 100 or more pounds and never look back.


24 comments to No Honor in Cheating

  • You know what Hank, I can’t find anything here to be offended at. I think you have spoken a great truth here. I had an experience several years ago that came back to mind as I was reading this. Cheating: it’s what I felt like I was doing as I rode down the road opening one after another after another little rolls of Smarties. I felt like I was cheating on my husband because I was in the process of getting healthy, losing weight, getting my fitness back and yet here I was in the car by myself uncontrollably eating handsful of these little sugar discs. It also felt like what it must be like to be addicted to crack. I wanted to stop eating them, knew it was wrong but just kept on. It felt like cheating in every way. So…. I totally 100 % relate and agree with you here and also think it’s very well spoken. Great job not only on this post but on your health shift and weightloss to date!!!!

  • Jen @familyfoodfitnessandfun
    Twitter: jengacek

    Wonderful post! I totally agree with you on the cheat day thing. If you need a cheat day, you are not in the right mindset of being healthy. It’s a lifestyle, not a diet 🙂 I love that saying too: eat to live, not live to eat!

  • Well said, Hank. I hope you don’t mind if I refer back to that now and again. 🙂

  • Ashley
    Twitter: MissAshleyylala

    Wow! Having a cheat day is something I’ve been debating but have not started practicing yet. Thank you for helping me think it through. I WILL NOT CHEAT! Through God, I’m making transformation a part of my reality. My aim is to lose 200 lbs and change my life for the better! Rock on and Thanks!

  • You say you eat healthy 98% of the time… assuming you eat three meals a day, seven days a week, if you have pizza and beer for one of the 21 meals you consume in a week, then you’re actually only eating healthy 95.238% of the time… (not including snacks, of course)… let’s stick to the facts here.

  • Amy

    I agree with you 110%.. I never understood cheat days, and like you– my old way of living has died. I am a completely different person than I was 10 months ago. I have logged over 285 days on MFP and haven’t ended my day over my calories since the beginning. I have incorporated healthy habits into my life and don’t feel like I am missing out on anything.

    Great post, off to add you to my MFP friends list


  • Weigh-In: Week 13 (8-04-2011) « The Business of Losing Weight commented on The Business of Losing Weight:

    […] No Honor in Cheating […]

  • Mannie
    Twitter: mannieschumpert

    I sort of agree. I sort of don’t agree.

    If cheat days were solely about a day to throw of the shackles of discipline and gorge on Little Debbies and beer, then they would be foolish. But there are actually metabolic benefits to “cheat” days (where you eat reasonably healthy food but don’t count calories), which many fitness experts attest to.

    I can’t give personal evidence for this, but it is a well-documented dietetic opinion.

    • hank

      I am specifically talking about how the “norm” from what I have gathered is the binge on crap type of “cheat day.” I honestly believe that if you are in the proper frame of mind you will not want to throw caution to the wind but rather continue to work towards your goals to be healthy.

  • Angie
    Twitter: wanderingangie

    A very interesting post.
    I have allowed myself cheat day. I just had a few days off from everything and you know what? I didn’t make me feel better.
    I am just cheating myself. I want to lead a healthy lifestyle. I am only cheating on myself if I binge.
    I am now thinking I was never committed to make a lifestyle change and this is sad as I really thought I had.
    I now am committed! This is a lifestyle I chose and I will not cheat it.
    Thanks Hank, this post has inspired me to take a look at myself in a different way.

  • Angie commented on The Business of Losing Weight:

    A very interesting post.
    I have allowed myself cheat day. I just had a few days off from everything and you know what? I didn’t make me feel better.
    I am just cheating myself. I want to lead a healthy lifestyle. I am only cheating on myself if I binge.
    I am now thinking I was never committed to make a lifestyle change and this is sad as I really thought I had.
    I now am committed! This is a lifestyle I chose and I will not cheat it.
    Thanks Hank, this post has inspired me to take a look at myself in a different way.

  • Sarah
    Twitter: 100CalsPerMile

    Completely agree. I think if you have a healthy relationship with food you probably can’t understand how destructive a cheat day can be for someone trying to change their eating habits. I would LOVE to order a buffalo chicken sandwich the next time I go out. But I can’t. Those 1500 calories will put a real dent in my calorie deficit for the week. That’s three days of calorie cuts gone. In one meal. That extends my “journey” (kind of hate that phrase) three more days. That’s just the mathematical end. Surely there is a psychological impact when you go back to old habits. And if the answer is to compensate by working out and fitting that meal into your calorie allowance, well that’s not a cheat is it?

  • Sandy

    I came upon your blog today and am catching up on history. This is one of the most meaningful posts about weight loss that I have ever read. It has given me an entirely new way to look at my food issues. I have often told myself that it would be ‘easier’ to be an alcoholic because you can ‘go cold turkey’, ‘just say no’, and all of those approaches. I always felt food problems were tougher since you do have to eat. The comparison to fidelity though, made it clear how badly I have been lying to myself. Lots here to process, thank you.

    • hank

      Wow. Thanks for this feedback. I am glad that it spoke to you and I hope that my blog will continue to inspire. I had no idea when I started this that other folks would appreciate what I had to say…

  • I have been wanting to put a post out about exactly this, for about a year now, and haven’t been able to type it out without getting really annoyed. Very well written in a non offensive and understanding sort of way!

  • LOVE this Hank!!! It’s taken me along time to get to this point too!

  • abby

    Hank! This is an amazing post, & very inspirational. I’ve actually just spent the weekend “off” eating too many terrible things, and skipping all my workouts because “I deserve it.” I’ve been tri training for two months now, & truth is I dont deserve a weekend binge because I haven’t completed my goals yet. So thank you for posting this, so I could find it right when I needed to & hop back on the wagon.

    • hank hanna

      Thanks! It is very hard to move out of the “I deserve it” mindset and into the “Food is fuel, I should treat myself with other things” mindset. One day maybe I will get there! 🙂

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