Trophy Body Stephanie
February 3rd, 2022

Why I don't do Cheat Days.

Instead, I do Meat days.

Welcome to Blog #5 for my 17 week Trophy Body Transformation series. Today I will be talking about why cheat days were a big mistake for me, and why I decided to do meat days instead.

What is so wrong with cheat days? Here is what the internet has to say about the benefits of cheat days:

Prevents binges
Reduces Cravings
Provides a mental break from dieting
May help you stick to your eating plan during the week

Gives a break from measuring/calculating calories & macros

Resets hormones responsible for metabolism and insulin regulation

Replenishes glycogen for increased energy

Keeps calorie-burning and fat-torching mechanisms high

When Trophy Body Sally and I planned out our 2022 transformation series, we happily included routine cheat meals to provide us all the benefits listed above, but as soon as the first cheat meal arrived, I noticed some very scary and unstable emotions surrounding the experience.

I started the day with my routine breakfast and lunch and then came my first bite of cheat food. Chippeas. Have you ever had those before? They’re like cheetos but plant based and puffier. Very yummy. Next came a homemade chocolate peanut butter cup that I had just made a fresh batch of. Feeling good so far. Then we went on a light walk and came back for the main cheat meal: Pizza Dinner. I prepped a beautiful pizza dough earlier that day and began prepping our cheese and plant based meat stuffed crust pizza, served with broccoli and beer. Yummy. I decided that plenty of cheese would be fine and I served up two slices for me. Perfection. Next came the cheat dessert: Non-Dairy Ben ‘n Jerry’s and Oreos. Wow, what a treat. What kind of Ben ‘n Jerry's was it? Netflix and chill. There was also some Oat Milk-Cookies and cream ice cream in the freezer so that got taste tested as well. This food hit the SPOT. But, when does this food ever not hit the spot?

The next day I thought deeply about my cheat meal experience. I hadn’t put that much junk food into my body like that in years, yet since it was a cheat meal, I was supposed to eat ‘junk food’, right? Did this cheat meal provide ANY of the benefits listed above? Sure, a few. But not the important ones. As we all know, cheat days ride the line of a binge, and for those (me) who rarely if ever have the ability to eat one bite of a donut or one serving of icecream, it definitely becomes an overeating experience. Duh, isn’t that kind of the point? Well, in my last blog, I talked about how I never want to overeat or undereat. I’ve done too much of that in my lifetime and I am putting it behind me. Back in 2004 was the first time I ever had a cheat day and my memories of it weren't pretty. I was so full by the end of that day, I found myself face first on the carpet moaning, groaning and feeling absolutley gross. Yikes. Now, at this point in my life, I don’t even like eating one bite too much. It depresses me, dehydrates me, zaps my energy, reminds me of 2004, reduces my motivation and believe it or not, makes me MORE prone to overeating again soon. Maybe because it’s been hard for me to recognize how to correct a binge. That’s a very common question related to cheat days, “What am I supposed to do the next day? Act like it didn’t happen?” Well it did, and my tummy hurts, I feel bloated and I feel ashamed. Wow. What a disconnect to my self love and the truth. Some people may stay very level headed and see right past any temporary consequences of a binge. Not me, because I overeater and that’s the last thing I need (kind of like how much an alcoholic needs a drink). 

What can I do instead to fully satisfy my deepest cravings?

Bingo. Include it in my prepared meals. My cravings and intuitions always come at me in perfect timing. There is a chance my craving stems directly from watching someone eat something on youtube, or a commercial on tv, but I must allow all of these desires (stemming from my childhood), embrace them and release them. I have a lot of experience recreating ‘junk’ foods and making them healthy, so it is my pleasure to make these treats (whether they are savory or sweet) and include them into my meal prep and maintenance calorie window. Did any of you see me dunking my morning Banana in melted chocolate, or serving up two bananas with 2 TB of nut butter PLUS a square of chocolate? That's what I'm talking about. I get to have my cake (a lean, tight & fit Trophy Body) and eat it too. The second I crave it, it’s going into the next meal prep. Some foods I might not be able to recreate in my trophy way, but I can find a way to allow it as it is, experience it and move on. For me, this approach is sustainable, easy, and sound. There is no need for cheat days, but what about meat days? 

Why Meat?

When I began meal prepping for this 17 week transformation series, I initially decided to incorporate 15-25% of my calories coming from plant based protein. Why? Because at that time, I wanted to do exactly as bodybuilders do. They eat more protein therefore I will eat more protein. “Game on'' is how I approached it, and in came the protein powders, vegan deli slices, tofu, pea powders, pb2, hemp seeds, quinoa, roasted chickpeas, plant based mock meats, etc. Yummy, right? Well, some of them. As I mentioned in one of my last Blogs, some of these concentrated proteins require a genuine taste for the flavor and their texture. I am definitely not someone who can sustain regularly eating something I don’t truly love, or something I have to mask the flavor of just for the physical “benefit”. Well, maybe I make exceptions, but there’s more to it than that. It needs to digest well, give me the macro reaction I'm going for and it needs to give me the results I'm after. So, as I explored more added protein, it seemed fine at first, and I enjoyed it. I did notice a softer stool with certain proteins, but that didn’t really bother me. Then, there was a day where I explored the lowest carb percentage I had in probably a decade, starting with protein pancakes. That day, I tried to eat upwards of 130g of protein and my carb percentage was around 50%. After just 2 meals, I was an undercarbed mess. And to top it off, I was absolutely PACKING in the sodium. Yuck. Most of these concentrated plant protein sources either have tons of sodium, require tons of sodium to be edible (just like meat) or are super processed and refined. If I were to try and eat 15-25% of my calories from protein and only focus on whole, plant sources such as Oatmeal, Tofu, Edamame, Lentils, Quinoa, Beans, Peas, Nuts and Veggies I would have to manipulate the quantities of these foods to large, unnatural portions and I wouldn’t be satisfied with my menu. 
As I was obsessing over the 15-25% marker for a hot minute, I found myself opening up heart my to the possibility of eating fish for one night. So, I plugged it into Cronometer and just like that, my protein gram total skyrocketed. Jeez la weez, that was easy. And at that moment, the protein from fish sounded reasonable. The flesh or muscle of an animal going straight to my muscle made logical sense. From an ethical perspective, it makes no sense, but from a typical meat eating bodybuilder’s standpoint, it works. What I felt happened in that moment was a release. A release of fear that I was harboring. I didn’t have that fear growing up, nor does my boyfriend, my family members, my friends and basically most of the planet. Then I thought about the longest living cultures in the world. Do they eat a Plant Based Diet? Nope. None of them. Do they consume a lot of meat? I don’t think they do, but it’s possible some of them do. Then I visualized myself through the eyes of an Okinawan as someone who eats no meat and I had an epiphany. I am restricting myself. I am missing out on having a small percentage of meat in my diet. I am forcing something so natural to be disregarded for the sake of a label. For the sake of animal suffering. For the sake of the community. For the sake of perfect health? Then I thought about my sweet, wonderful boyfriend who willingly switched to eating a Plant Based Diet for me. He stopped eating meat (for the most part) because I asked him to, not because he felt convicted. He has now built a new, loving relationship with starches and plant foods which means he and I both are contributing to the relief of animal suffering, and we are proud of that.
Since making the decision to eat a piece of meat once a week (or maybe less), I no longer have any urge to cheat on my diet or binge on something 'forbidden'. Instead, I will put a piece of meat on my plate, serve it with veggies and starch, and I will move on with my day. Or, I will re-create the food that I am craving, include it in my menu and will wake up the next day with my happy, Trophy Body. This to me is a far more kind and loving approach than putting a bunch of oil, refined sugar or processed 'vegan' junk food into my body simply because there is no dairy present. Or, secretly loving certain foods and avoiding them at all costs for the sake of their macronutrient profile or the fact that they have animal hormones in them. I have no more judgments towards myself about any of it. My goal is mental health, physical health, happiness and longevity and that is exactly what I’m getting.

Meal Prep #8: Days 31-35 (1/28-2/1)

Macros & Calories: 65% Carbs (376g), 24% Fat (63g), 11% Protein (62g), 2320 Calories, 72 grams Fiber

Hot Drink: Dandy Blend Tea or Cocoa Powder w/ 1 cup Almond Milk

Snack #1: 1 Packet of Trader Joe's Instant Oats (Apple Cinnamon) with 2 TB PB2 & Hot Water

Breakfast: Oatmeal Waffles (oats, pumpkin, baking powder, flax meal, water, cinnamon/salt) served with 1 cup Unsweetened Vanilla Coconut Yogurt & 1 cup Fresh Blueberries

Lunch: Trophy Lasagna (Corn Tortillas, Beans, Green Chilis, Tomato, Corn, Salsa, Onions & Bell Peppers) served with 1/4 c Nacho Cheese Sauce & Iceberg Lettuce

Snack #2: 2 Large Bananas (first), then 2 TB Peanut Butter and 1 square (1/2 oz) of unsweetened Chocolate (Simple Truth Organic)

Dinner: Brown Rice Pasta, Zucchini Noodles, Steamed Broccoli & Tahini/Vinegar/Maple Syrup Dressing (with added spices)

**Meat Dinner on Sunday 1/30: Chicken Thighs cooked in Veggie Marinara, served with Brown Rice and Steamed Broccoli (I also enjoyed 2 glasses of White Wine)

Fitness Log: 1/27-2/2 + 1 Song/day

1/27: Rest Day

Traveling Home from Fish Lake

1/28: 13,000 Steps

Heart Rate: 90-110

1/29: 1 hr Indoor Cycle

Heart Rate: 90-110

1/30: A.M. Full Body Light Flex Session + Evening Dancing

35 Minutes: Upper Body Routine 

15 Minutes: Lower Body Moves

10 Minutes: Foam Rolling

30 Minutes: Evening Dancing

1/31: Light A.M. Stretching & Rest

Day One of Cycle (I started 4 days later than normal so I squeezed in a couple extra light training sessions days leading up to today) + 9,000 steps

2/1: 9,170 Steps

Heart Rate: 90-110

2/2: 15,000 Steps

Heart Rate: 90-110

Mindset Focus:

Focus on doing intermittent flexing (off the Jumper) throughout the day. When I'm waiting for the microwave, or in the shower, or riding in the car, or watching tv, etc. Practice precise connection of my mind to my muscles so when I get back on the Jumper, I am even more advanced and prepared for maximum activation.

Next Week I will be discussing and Filming my 2022 Transformation Series Upper Body Routine. Can't wait!

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