Nothing Tastes as Bitter as a Cheat Day Feels

Years ago, when I tried to mentally motivate my way through another diet, I started a Pinterest board called Fitspiration. I pinned images of sports bra-wearing fitness models with the glistening abs, biceps, glutes, and more that I so desperately wanted.

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I pinned links to all the pump-you-up Nike commercials I could find.

Candid shots of celebrities in swimsuits.

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Inspirational blog posts about weight loss success—with the obligatory before-and-after photos.

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And quotes I wanted to pound in my head.

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One of those quotes was this gem:

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I looked at those words constantly. I looked at it before I ate something I thought I might regret: a cookie, a cocktail, a carrot dipped in a smidge too much peanut butter. I looked at it when I wanted to back out of my workouts.

Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels.

Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels.

Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels.

I visualized skinny-me. I marveled at how good achieving my dream body must feel that it would inevitably trump the deliciousness that is French fries and biscuits and hot fudge sundaes.

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Now, having successfully lost the weight and kept it off—with no thanks to the Fitspiration board, by the way—I need someone, anyone, everyone to know this truth:

Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels is bullshit.

That’s not to say I’m not happy. I feel amazing. Shedding the fat, the shame, the guilt, the bulbous burden I carried on my body, in my head, on my spirit my entire adult life was absolutely worth the hard work, the sacrifices, and the sometimes-tough choices.

But Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels is still a bullshit philosophy that pins happiness against satisfaction in an unhealthy way. In an impossible way.

Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels says you’ll be happier if you don’t eat a slice of cake. Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels means that under no circumstances is enjoying what you eat acceptable. Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels tells you that when you lie awake at night with hunger pangs, you can take comfort in the fact that your thigh gap is widening. Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels teaches us not to enjoy food, but instead to enjoy the way our bodies look when we’re starved for it.

And that approach to health and weight loss and happiness is not sustainable.

So instead of “cheat days” when we’re allowed to indulge without feeling guilty—and still feel guilty anyway—why don’t we empower ourselves to make smart choices all day, every day based on what we know about our own bodies?

Instead of punishing our weekend indulgences during a Monday workout, let’s make fitness a sacred time and space where we take care of ourselves, where we invest in ourselves. Where we cut ties with everything that drags us down, sweat out stress, and celebrate every triumph.

Exercise is not a punishment any more than indulgent food is a reward. Because one day, after you’ve had an balanced breakfast and a healthy lunch and you plan to go for a run after work, cookies may show up in the break room at your office.

And you may decide to eat one. And it will taste good.

And that’s okay.

Because cookies do taste good. And bagels taste good. And heavy-handed pours of malbec taste good. And power foods like avocado and sweet potatoes and salmon and raspberries and almonds taste good.

But being healthy, putting healthy things into your body, investing in your health and happiness and well-being, that’s what feels good.

It feels better than skinny. It feels better than fat. It feels better than over indulging or dieting or cheat days or juice cleanses. It even feels better than watching the numbers go down on the scale.

So if you want to be healthier, lose weight, or simply be the best version of yourself, here’s my advice: Forget Fitspiration. Forget cheat days. Forget what everyone else looks like in a bikini. Forget what society says you’re supposed to look like in a bikini. Forget how far you have to go. Forget how many times you’ve tried and failed. Forget the mantras. And definitely forget Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels.

But please remember this:

Nothing feels as good as taking good care of yourself.

4 thoughts on “Nothing Tastes as Bitter as a Cheat Day Feels

  1. High five. (are they still doing that?) I’m of the age where there’s not much to be gained by being fit. My personal best days are behind me; I can only hope to beat out the other old guys in a 5k. I power through P90X workouts and skip the parts that are ridiculous. (one arm push-ups?) I’m in pretty good shape, especially considering my age, but I often ask myself why. Is it worth it? The answer is yes. I always feel better after a workout or a run, even if it’s a lousy run. It gives me freedom to eat what I want, although I follow the “all things in moderation” mantra. Life is short, GC. Let’s be healthy and reasonable and enjoy life as we go. Cheers. (and I say that not in the meaningless cliche that so many use to sign off on an email. i mean, cheers, with my glass clinking yours)

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