Cheating vs. Choosing

I hate the word cheating.  I am not fond of people who cheat.  Now don’t get me wrong.  I have done my fair share of cheating in my life.  In grade school during a test (I was not the brightest student), I would continually look at my neighbors paper to see what answers they put down on their paper.  Certainly their answers were better than mine.  And then my neighbor would catch on to me, straining my neck to catch an answer from their paper and they would then put their arm over their work so I could not see.  Bummer.  I did the same thing in high school – copied homework, and stole answers from my neighbors paper.  I am sure I plagiarized on occasion.  That is cheating.

In college,  I had an art history class that was in a very dark auditorium.  I loved that class.  I still remember and can name the artists of the Impressionist Era.  But it was so easy to cheat on tests.  It was so dark in the room and I could go in with my cheat sheets and easily ace a test.  And I did get an A in that class.  My biggest cheat in college was going into a World History final with several small pieces of paper shoved up my sleeve with a ton of information.  I passed that test with flying colors.  Yes that was definitely cheating.

People cheat on their taxes, people cheat on their spouses.  People cheat when playing games.  Cheating, cheating, cheating .  Cheating not only hurts yourself (I am sure I could have done better in school if I tried harder and studied more) but most of all it hurts other people.  A spouse cheating on his wife is devastating to all involved.  A person cheating on his taxes hurts the rest of society.  But me eating a piece of chocolate is not cheating.  Am I really hurting myself?  Am I hurting someone else?  No.  Absolutely not.  So my question is, why on a weight loss program when one slips does one say “I cheated”.  Or on many weight loss programs they say “You can have a cheat meal”.  The word cheating to me is a bad word.  In the dictionary the word cheat Is defined “as a fraud, a deceiver, to take an examination or test in a dishonest way, as by improper access to answers” (that was me).  So how and why do some weight loss programs say you can cheat on occasion.  The word cheat in a weight loss world makes no sense to me.

Now the word choosing is a much better word.  If I want a piece of chocolate I will choose to eat one.  If I want a glass of wine or two I will choose to do so.  If I want to eat more than my 26 points on Weight Watchers I will choose to do so.  I am choosing, not cheating.   But there are still consequences to my behavior.  I may not lose the weight or I might even gain.  But that is ok.  Because I have made a conscious decision to do so.  I am still in control of my situation.

Now on other weight loss programs they say you can have a cheat meal.  Oh my gosh – let me at it.  I can do some damage on a cheat meal.   Just the word cheat in my mind opens up the flood gates.  Remember I was a great cheater in school.  So cheating on a meal would mean I would eat things that I have totally taken out of my diet.  Chips, fried foods, ice cream, cookies, white bread, cereal, candy, and the list goes on.  We are talking major damage here.

So for 30 days I decided to shake things up and do the Paleo Whole 30 program.  I am trying desperately to get all of the additives out of my diet.  No more sweeteners.  No more diet sodas, eating whole foods – meats, vegetables, fruits, nuts and healthy fats.  But giving up my non-fat greek yogurt is a challenge.  So I had greek yogurt as one of my meals with fruit this week.  I was told with the Paleo Whole 30 I could count that as a cheat meal.  Are you serious????  Greek yogurt as a cheat meal??  That does not make any sense to me when others are “cheating” on pizza, ice cream, cake and wine and calling it their “cheat meal”.

I chose to have Greek yogurt.  This is not cheating.  Greek yogurt may not be part of the Whole 30 program but it is definitely not cheating.   Me eating this food did not hurt anyone and it definitely did not hurt me.  I just chose to not follow the Whole 30 for one meal.

The word cheating is an inflammatory word.  Guilt goes along with the word cheat.  Yes I did feel some remorse for cheating on those tests.  I would hope a spouse has some guilt when cheating on his partner.  When I call someone a cheater I am hoping they will feel bad and change their behavior.  If I cheat on my “diet” my mind says “cheat with gusto”.  And then once I cheated I feel bad.   But eating greek yogurt does not make me feel guilty.

So I am not going to cheat.  I don’t have to cheat to succeed in life.  On my weight loss journey, I am choosing.  I am choosing what goes in my mouth.  Yes there will be days that I may not make the best choices.  But I am choosing to do so.  I am doing it with a full conscious knowing what and if any consequences will follow.  My cheating days are over.

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2 thoughts on “Cheating vs. Choosing

  1. Lisa, great point. Being at choice is never a bad thing. And some words have such baggage they need to be reexamined.

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