Tag Archives: cheat meals

How to Not Need “Cheat Days”

vegetables italian pizza restaurant

I don’t have “cheat days”.

I’m not THAT dedicated.

Hahaha!  Probably not what you expected to hear from me.

Nutrition supports your fitness goals in two ways…

  • Calories determine whether you are gaining, losing, or maintaining.
  • Macro and micronutrients help your body work optimally and help you feel better.

Food preferences are individual.  (I really dislike strawberry ice cream.  Go ahead – judge. But I’m going for the chocolate.  Or my recent new favorite – orange cream sherbet.  Must a summer thing!)

person holding ice cream with cone

Once you get used to using food as fuel, it’s like seeing the matrix.  Sort of.  You’ll still drop into the illusion and enjoy your favorites.

But those favorites are part of the matrix – they are a combination of calories and nutrients.  In the matrix, pizza has no value judgement – it’s just calories, carbs, protein, and fat.

That said, when I’m in a fat-loss phase (which I’m not this year), what someone else might call a “cheat day”, I call a refeed day.

On a refeed day, I’ll bring my calories up to maintenance – which means my goal is to eat the same number of calories that I estimate I will burn in that 24 hours period.

Usually, I do that by increasing portion sizes of foods I’m already eating.  But if I’m psychologically needing something I haven’t had in a while, that will come in on a refeed day.

It’s all logged.  It’s not a “cheat” anything because I’m not cheating by choosing “forbidden foods”.  No foods are forbidden for this purpose. 

Food choices are individual.  Yes, there are plenty of medical, philosophical, and ethical reasons why people have certain food preferences.

 That’s not what I’m talking about here.  I’m talking about controlling the amount of food you choose to eat – whatever that is going to be.

Actually, I do the same thing when I’m NOT in a fat-loss phase.  The difference is that I’m either at maintenance or in a controlled surplus with calories.


Not everyone likes the matrix.  I do.  I like the flexibility of choosing foods I like instead of using food lists.  I like how it changed my relationship with food by adding some structure and science.

Now the questions are do you do a refeed day, a refeed meal, and when? 

That’s another post…

If you’d like me to teach you how to do this for yourself, or to figure it all out for you  – a customized nutrition plan with live, weekly, support to make it all work when life gets busy – learn more here.

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Week 1 of 3 – Done

Just to bring you up to speed – for the first three weeks after rest week, the workouts were reorganized with the intention of shocking the system a little and revving up the metabolism. On lift days, I would lift before work and after work. This is what I did…

Monday: back (am), triceps, abs, calves (pm)

Tuesday: HIIT cardio on StairMonster (am)

Wednesday: chest (am), biceps, abs, calves (pm)

Thursday: HIIT cardio on StairMonster (am)

Friday: Shoulders (am), legs (pm)

Saturday: 45 min low and slow cardio on StairMonster (legs were too heavy to move fast)

I love, LOVE this program. I had some soreness, but not as much as the last time I did two-a-days because I have more recovery time now. I had to eat more to maintain my weight. I’m currently at 150. I’ve gained about 15 pounds since the show in August. I’m hoping there are a couple pounds of muscle in there. I was emotionally ready to start my cut a couple weeks ago. This workout switch up is helping me deal with the sense of urgency about NOT cutting for a couple more weeks. It’s really not that big of a deal. If 20 weeks is a long enough cut this year (I did 24 weeks last year), then I’m good. If it’s not long enough, I’ll pass on the June show and do one in July. No biggie. It was important for me to hit the first target last August because I would not let the trainer drama derail me there were other issues involved. Now, my support structure is solid, I’m surrounded by people I trust, so it’s all good.

Here is my shoulder/leg workouts from Friday off the Gym Buddy app. I did too much. It was the last day of finals and I didn’t have to be at work until 7:30, so I added extra shoulder sets in the morning. For legs, the pulled hip wasn’t hurting as much as it has for the last couple months, so I was testing it by adding more weight. 3 sets turned into 5 sets. And I didn’t cry on split squats like I have been for the last two leg workouts. Single leg press was a little scary, though. The right leg was just not stable.


1/18/13 Overhead Press in Shoulders
5:51:35 AM 45 x 10
5:51:39 AM 55 x 10
5:54:39 AM 65 x 7
5:58:46 AM 65 x 6

1/18/13 Arnold Presses in Shoulders
6:01:08 AM 20 x 10
6:19:48 AM 20 x 10
6:19:53 AM 25 x 8
6:19:57 AM 25 x 8

1/18/13 Lateral Raises in Shoulders
6:20:15 AM 10 x 10
6:26:15 AM 10 x 10
6:26:20 AM 12.5 x 10
6:33:58 AM 12.5 x 10

1/18/13 Cable Front Raise in Shoulders
6:34:20 AM 5 x 10 Super set

1/18/13 Cable Lateral Raise in Shoulders
6:34:30 AM 5 x 8

1/18/13 DB Rear Fly in Shoulders
6:34:40 AM 10 x 10

1/18/13 Cable Front Raise in Shoulders
6:37:47 AM 5 x 10

1/18/13 Cable Lateral Raise in Shoulders
6:37:55 AM 5 x 8

1/18/13 DB Rear Fly in Shoulders
6:38:02 AM 10 x 10
6:46:07 AM 12.5 x 10

1/18/13 Machine Lateral Raise in Shoulders
6:46:14 AM 20 x 10
6:48:18 AM 25 x 10
7:10:45 AM 25 x 10
7:10:47 AM 25 x 10
7:10:53 AM 20 x 10

1/18/13 Pec Dec Rear Delt Fly in Shoulders
7:11:01 AM 50 x 10
7:11:14 AM 60 x 10
7:11:20 AM 70 x 10

1/18/13 Box Squats in Legs
3:04:44 PM 45 x 10
3:08:03 PM 65 x 10
3:11:48 PM 75 x 10
3:17:35 PM 85 x 10
3:25:23 PM 95 x 10

1/18/13 Split Squats Smith Machine in Legs
3:30:04 PM 10 x 10
3:32:54 PM 20 x 10
3:38:57 PM 30 x 10
3:47:32 PM 40 x 10
3:52:16 PM 50 x 10

1/18/13 Leg Press Single Leg in Legs
4:02:08 PM 90 x 10
4:02:09 PM 90 x 10
4:02:10 PM 90 x 10

1/18/13 Single Leg Extension in Legs
4:02:19 PM 45 x 10
4:02:22 PM 45 x 10
4:02:24 PM 60 x 10

1/18/13 Leg Press in Legs
4:03:20 PM 105 x 10
4:04:56 PM 135 x 10
4:06:19 PM 150 x 10

1/18/13 Straight Leg Deadlift in Legs
4:15:15 PM 65 x 10
4:15:19 PM 75 x 10
4:17:25 PM 85 x 10
4:22:04 PM 95 x 10
4:26:43 PM 115 x 10

1/18/13 Reverse Hypers in Legs
4:31:12 PM 10 x 10 No weight on machine
4:35:05 PM 20 x 10
4:37:02 PM 30 x 10
4:45:04 PM 40 x 10
4:52:27 PM 50 x 10

1/18/13 Leg Curl in Legs
4:52:36 PM 45 x 10
4:54:11 PM 45 x 10
4:56:56 PM 45 x 8
5:00:46 PM 45 x 8

Overall, I’m not pleased about my weights not increasing very much. I suspect I’m afraid to push myself since I’ve had two injuries now. Maybe I need a training partner? I hate the idea of organizing my program around another person though. I like working out alone. So I keep the weights manageable, work on strict form, and do more reps and sets. I keep reminding myself to remove my ego from the lifts. If I’m growing, that’s all that matters. PRs are just so much fun! I hit one for DB bicep curls this week. That was cool.

However, I suspect I my approach towards delts is all wrong.  I need to chat with D about it.  I have a couple ideas, which he’ll probably hate, so I’ll wait and tell you when there is a plan.

Since the hip seems to be stronger, I’ll add deadlifts to my back workout this week.  If I stretch a lot today and drink a lot of water, the legs should be recovered enough tomorrow to handle it.  If not, I’ll flip the back and chest workouts this week.

So that’s what I did on Friday to be able to get away with this cheat meal…


I don’t eat like this more than once a week, usually twice a month.  But after a 60 set day, well, there is no better time to eat.  🙂


Filed under Legs, My Lifting Log, Shoulders


The post-competition food fantasies of a math teacher/bodybuilder.  (Yeah, I know they are really ‘sectors’ and not triangles)…







































Do you remember geometry?  List the area formulas for a triangle and for a sector in the comments.


Filed under Nutrition


Random Topic #1: I’m very, very tired.  Good tired.

This week I lifted heavier than ever before.  By the end of the week, I felt huge.  Sore and huge.  Sore, huge, and TIRED.  It feels like I’m growing out of my skin.  If you told me I looked a little green and that my clothes were tearing, I’d believe you.  I needed TWO massages this week.  After the first one on Wednesday, my body swelled up with fluid.  I don’t think I drank enough water to flush the toxins Diana rubbed out.  That was a really weird feeling.  I also gained a couple pounds this week unrelated to that fluid gain.  The weight gain combined with the big strength gains are a very, very good sign that I’ve got the cortisol under control, that I needed that rest week, and that the diet and supplement plan is good.  I’m getting the nutrients I need when I need them.

Random Topic #2: Cheat Meals

OK, I’ll confess.  It’s more like a cheat half day.  It’s also a rest day.  I had to work at the gym from 6 am until noon.  Then grocery shopping.  I planned to eat a late lunch and have that be my cheat meal.  Again, I confess.  It’s been a LOT of cheating today.  Three pieces of lasagna and four ice cream sandwiches.  They were Skinny Cow ice cream sandwiches, but FOUR defeats the purpose of the “skinny” part.  Then I found the artichoke dip my husband bought yesterday and had to have a little bit of that.  Yum.  I’ve been logging food for almost 136 weeks.  Cheat meals (or half days) aren’t a big deal.  I do this about twice a month.  Shocks the system a little bit – keep the metabolism fired up.  Restores glycogen to the muscles.  And I imagine I’m depleted after this week.

Random Topic #3: Crossing Over to the Dark Side

Someone recently said to me that they were training to compete this summer, but they aren’t really “into” the bodybuilding lifestyle.  Someone else told me that they love competing, but hate training.  Neither of these things make sense to me.  I LOVE THIS LIFESTYLE.  I love everything about it that I’ve experienced so far.  I do not know if I will like competing, but I’m assuming I will.  I even love the pain.  That good pain that tells me that I did real work and that I’m growing muscle.  OK, another confession.  I’m not thrilled with dieting and cardio, but it’s part of this life and I accept it like I accept the fact that I have to eat vegetables.  I say this at the end of a week when I was lifting so heavy it freaked me out and at the end of a cheat day – so I guess I wouldn’t really take me seriously right now.  I’m full and happy.  Contest prep may be harder than I think.  Don’t care.  I’m determined to love every single minute of this.  You know why?  Because I’m blessed to be able to do it.  I know this.  I do not take that for granted.   So what’s the “Dark Side”?  The bodybuilding life.  No matter what I look like, I AM a bodybuilder.  I think like a bodybuilder.  I walk it and talk it.  Everyday I look in the mirror and I see some small change somewhere that confirms that the transformation is taking place.  This isn’t something I’m doing temporarily for a show.  This is now my life.

Random Topic #4: 30 weeks out

30 weeks until show.  Because my body is responding well with respect to muscle growth, I don’t want to change anything with the diet for a couple more weeks – or rather, until I pull a truck.  I’ve been eating about a 200 calorie surplus each day and it’s pretty clean.  Got a little issue with the Valentine’s conversation hearts, but that’s not something serious.  I think I will add in more cardio this week though.  I want to start pulling the sled at American Iron.  Seems like a fun way to get my cardio done.  I’m having oral surgery on Feb 1 and I don’t know how that will impact my workouts.  I will have stitches in my mouth for a week.  (It’s not going to be a fun surgery. )  Everyone tells me that I have plenty of time to get lean for the show.  I don’t know.  I don’t know how this 50-yr-old post menopausal body will respond to anything since this is my first show prep.  So far, it’s done pretty much it’s own mysterious thing.  Losing the weight was easy when I was starting at 200 pounds and 44% body fat.  Now, it’s a little trickier.   Oh well.   I accept that and love the process just the same.

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Filed under Bodybuilding Journal