SEARCH RFS:

"Small Failures" and the Danger of the Monday Mindset

Never miss a glorious update - click here!

I think most of you know that I was a chubby kid growing up. I have to assume you know that there’s a reason for that: I love food.

Of course, most of us love food, but sadly I also happen to like unhealthy food. It is only through epic force of will that I was ever able to lose weight, and only through years of practicing dietary strategies that I’m able to keep it off.

There are certain things I don’t miss from those days (other than not being fat, of course) and that I don’t think I’ll ever eat again.

For example, I have eaten fast food only once in the past 10 years.

To qualify that, in a recent trip to San Diego, some friends of mine convinced me that I needed to try In n’ Out Burger, a West Coast chain that supposedly I was going to go crazy for. I was unimpressed.

Having tried it to assuage their desire, I don’t think I’ll ever eat fast food again.

Similarly, I can’t really see ever eating pizza from a place outside of the Greater NY Metro area, as it really isn’t the same and I just don’t see the point. (Easy, Jersey and Philly people–I’m including you). Being honest, there is something in the water that makes NY pizza better.

In fact, there is a pizza shop in Tampa, where Joel lives, that has water shipped down from NY that makes a damn good slice.

That’s pretty much it, though.

When it comes to my cheat days, not much else is off limits. I have a sweet tooth and a love of hendheld foods, so I’m known to eat sausage and peppers followed by a shake. Aaah, cheat days. Cookies, cakes and pie, gloooooorius pie. I could go on forever. Oh, and candy, I love candy.

(As a weird aside, I had some candy on my last cheat day, and I noticed that there were more “Ike’s” in my Mike and Ike’s than usual. Just sayin’).

Anyway, today is not a cheat day (in fact I have to wait till Sunday), so I will not be partaking. And having a strict “no cheat outside of cheat days” policy is really, really, REALLY important for someone like me.

Here’s a video I shot about it earlier today.

Anyway, I’m a big fan of cheat days, and I’m a huge fan of the program in question, Cheat Your Way Thin, which as you know was written by one of my best friends.

As I mentioned in my video, the most DANGEROUS thing about unplanned cheat days is that they generally just lead to more unplanned cheating, which in the long run derails your efforts entirely. While I don’t think you need to be draconian about every aspect of your diet, I DO know that fooling yourself into thinking it’s “just one meal” or “just one day” or “just the weekend” is pretty much a never ending cycle.

I call this “the Monday Mindset” and to be honest, it usually leads nowhere good.

“I’ll start again tomorrow” becomes “I’ll start Monday” becomes “I’ll start in January.” And we all know how that works out for 90% of people.

New Year’s Resolution? Yeah, talk to you next year.

Instead, just follow a plan, get set up to to do it the right way, and allow yourself to cheat as liberally as you like and burn more fat using your favorite foods and treats during the Holidays.

And that’s where Cheat Your Way Thin comes in. If you don’t already have it, pick it up here, because it’s currently on sale for less than half price. As I said in the video, it’s a great reference; you’ll want to refer back to it later on.

Bottom line: ladies and gents, the holidays are coming. And if you’re anything like me, you may cave and have just ONE brownie at an office party…and it’s all downhill from there. At least, that’s what can happen if you don’t have a plan in place.

So, get yourself set up for success with CYWT, and drop some fat instead of gaining it over the next few weeks.

Plus, you get all my bonus workouts, which make things even more awesome.

Now go enjoy your fat burning cookies =)

About the Author

John Romaniello is a level 70 orc wizard who spends his days lifting heavy shit and his nights fighting crime. When not doing that, he serves as the Chief Bro King of the Roman Empire and Executive Editor here on RFS. You can read his articles here, and rants on Facebook.

  • Anna

    Great article Roman!  I LOVE my cheat days! I’m the same as you it’s all or nothing :)  Do you fast after your cheat day?

  • This came at just the right time for me! I have been doing super duper for about 5wks and lost 2kg and then made Mars Bar Rice Crispie cakes on Sunday for my boyfriends bday … and now it’s Wednesday… and I am still eating bday cake!!!! : / Its like I have to eat it all out of  my house to remove the temptation!!! Arrrgh! Plus it tastes so dam good.. Definitely a case of the Monday mindset. I am usually spot on with resisting during the week. Righto – back to it tomorrow and no excuses of starting again on Monday! Thanks for the reminder Roman =D

  • Miguel

    LOL, I completely relate!

  • Sebago74

    I would say i am more the Craig personality….i feel i have a great will power.  If i choose to have a cheat during the week or whatever i can stop at just a bite or a very small quantitiy.  The thing is i almost never do the cheat day thing and that’s where i struggle in my mind.  I have a hard time just going for it and eating what i want.  I pretty much stay on my track of lots of veggies, lean proteins blah blah blah.  I can’t tell you the last time i had ice cream or anything like that.  That’s a problem….i am too disciplined ….virtually no sugar, slim to none from a box, cook and bake everything myself……baking involves using flax meal, almond meal, xylitol, stevia, protein powder , stuff like that. 
    I think if i could just dive in even if it was only once a month i might see some more positive changes in my physique.  I’m not saying it’s bad as it is…. female,51, 5’3, 125, very good musculature, body fat not where i want it but at about 15%….just would like it evened out a bit.  I workout almost everyday…strength train hard 2-3 days, strength and cardio (my cardio is more of the plyo fashion or jump roping etc) at least 2 days, then 2 days of shorter plyo workouts. 

    I’m thinking if i could just add in that cheat i might see something move.  The other obstacle is i probably dont eat enough caloires to support my workouts  and i’m working on that too….probably around 1500 to 1800 a day, mostly on the lower end. I also consume few carbs other than veggies, fruit (morning, post workout, and lunch) OCCASIONALLY some grains, beans , sweet potato.,., oatmeal or ezekiel in the am twice a week. 

    Any suggestions to turn my brain around????  

  • M Castle1976

    GREAT stuff, as usual. The trainers that send out emails only trying to sell products get extremely annoying. Thanks for putting something of value in my inbox!

  • Michelle

    So one of many cool things are different for me this year than last, including maintaining by bf% at 15… (THK U ROMAN!!!) and it’s cuz this time last year, I started my first one-on-one coaching with you and Monday’s didn’t matter…..
     – PS attended a Broadway show opening last week… unbelievable how many compliments my dress received;  but my bf said it was really my shoulders….

  • Yes, I am inspired! Simply putting the forethought into not only maximizing my time, but also serving more clients who need the help makes sence. I would also like to pursue more training both in lifestyle coaching and understaning the whole business building components. I am oficially launching my business this year, it would be prudent and of course marvelous to start out with some “savvy” up my sleeves…Love your suggestions and information!

  • Well having lost originally 90 pounds (240) (150 at my lowest) it was a real tough mental pill to swallow in eating only spinach salads and chicken breast and tuna out the can. But, I can say after recently discovering your blog and buying the original Cheat Your Way Thin i'm feeling more comfortable than ever. Once you get the cheat day out of your system you sorta just dont even think about food the next day. I love my little mini food vacations but I loving being uber strict and eating clean 90-95 percent of the time and than downing some ice cream and pit beef sandwiches (the 'merican dream).

  • Well since I found you through Brad Pilon's interview, I'll admit a good Eat Stop Eat (or Nom Stop Nom :D) style fast helps me get back on track.

    I just recently (september-ish) started incorporating fasts into my diet, and while I don't follow ESE religiously, it has helped me lose some of the last 5-10 lbs instead of just losing and regaining the same 3.

    I think because instead of saying/thinking well I've screwed up my diet I'm back to square 1, I know a fast day will give me a big enough deficit to counteract the excess. Then I am in a better state of mind to keep on keeping on :)

  • I think that when you become regimented you tend to be more “aware” of the days you're more apt to cheat.

    Knowing this myself–I plan cheat days for Saturday.

    Simple but effective.

  • Josh

    Roman,

    Always like the cheat day advice. I've read a few of these from you now and always have the same thought – how does this personal dedication/reward system apply to other things? I find it very interesting to try to relate fitness/sports to other areas like business, vis-a-vis Malcolm Gladwell. Though I don't pretend to be near his level. Something to keep the gears turning.

  • Yes, Roman, I see what you mean. I don't crave fast food either, but it's at times a social thing that my friends partake in. As you said, I'd rather cheat on quality food than on a puny cheeseburger that doesn't rot for months. Thanks for the insight. I might just follow your train of thought!

  • @Steve – You know, I've never had it. I'm willing to give it a try and amend my statement.

  • Steve

    How can you not go for a Chicago Deep Dish pizza for a cheat when you hit Chicago?

  • Pats

    Damn Roman, just watched the video and it's so full of truth, this happened to me A LOT lately!

    When I first started my diet a bit less then 2 years ago, I was so focused, I could really watch my friends pig out on burgers and fries and just ignore it, I knew I was fat and had to drop the pounds.

    However… when the fat was gone (10% BF now), it became way harder (hey I'm thin, I had a big workout, eating those oreos won't do a thing) and, just like you described, the minute I cheat, even just a tiny bit, “the day has gone to hell, I should cheat the rest of the day (yay)… or even during the whole week end (more yay) and reset on monday!

    I'm back on track now though, this past week went by perfectly, ate very clean and did workouts 1-2-3 from your Body-Comp Blitz (damn you on the descending pyramid btw, my legs are still burning!) and I'm gonna have a wonderful cheat day this Saturday (going to buy cookies in your honor)!

  • @Johnny – regarding dirty dieting, I think there is merit to it.

    Assuming all calories and macronutrients are in line, I have a hard time really thinking that most people who are training hard are going to be terribly affected by having the occasional “bad” item in their food intake.

    That said, of course I'd have to restate my initial point that I don't think most people are really able to have just 1 cookie or be strict on the diet once they have allowed bad stuff in.

    For those that can, I think it's probably a decently effective way to lose fat.

    Afterall, the guy who just lost 27 pounds on the so-called “twinkie” diet managed to make progress…

    So, assuming you've got high protein, are getting 80% of your nutrition of solid sources…as long as your calories are in line you will still make progress, even if the other 20% is “dirty.”

  • @BikiniMommy – I've been there. One day turns into four or seven pretty easily.

    Glad you got back on track; that's the most important thing. Thanks for sharing =)

    Any thing in particular you did to help reset, so to speak?

  • As a vegitarian (lacto-vegetarian) I do face BIG obstacles with my diet , and as I am a gym freak I used to have that kind of mindset plus the mindset of (I burnt 700 , 800 Calories today , I deserve that cookie!) and then I end up eating the entire box… And i failed reaching my fitness goals..

    Thank you for the great advice , I specially liked what you said about small failures leading to bigger failures … It puts alot of things in the correct perspective!

    Thank you John!

    Nada

  • @Clement – well, as for fast food, it's really a personal thing.

    I think it's Leigh Peele who talks about looking at food in two different ways: 1) what it does FOR you, and 2) what it does TO you.

    Fast food does very little FOR me; I don't miss it, don't crave it, and would get no satisfaction from eating it. Additionally, there's no nutritional benefit. I hate it.

    As for what it does TO me…whenever I've eaten fast food in the past I've always felt like crap after. It doesn't taste good enough to warrant that.

    Also, I just don't want to really support the industry if I can avoid it.

    Finally, I just think I draw lines as a fitness professional. Fast food is just “bad food” in my mind, and I could never tell people to stop eating it while still eating it myself.

    When I decided to dedicate myself to this lifestyle, I just made certain choices–resultantly, I don't eat fast food, don't do drugs or smoke (I've never tried either), and I drink less than once per month.

    I try to live as healthfully as possible, because that is part of my professional identity and being true to that makes me feel good.

    Now, I can't give you a real explanation as to why I draw the line at fast food, but eating a bucket of ice cream is “okay” in my eyes–it's really a personal thing as I said.

    We all have to draw our own lines, but for me, I can live my whole live without McDonald's and feel better for it.

    Regarding your other question: my workouts are 15 minute workouts. 1 for shoulders, 1 for legs, and 3 bodyweight full body ones.

    As for cheating, I do think there is merit to lengthening the “priming” phase, so going 2-3 weeks without your first cheat can probably help.

    Finally, there is a physiological benefit to the cheat day, and it does help. I won't argue that there ISN'T a great deal of benefit in the psychological “break” you get from coming off the diet, but that's not the primary reason the program works.

  • @ty – thanks =) It's itchy but I'm getting used to it!

    @Brad – yup! hopefully it'll help a few people. Cool site, by the way.

  • @Jay – I would say that it's probably going to depend on the severity of the diet leading up to the cheat.

    If you've been dieting at a significant deficit for even a week, it's unlikely that a single cheat meal is going to boost leptin to the degree you'd like.

    However, what you COULD do is have just one Cheat Meal (ie eat cheat-y foods) and then just bump calories from clean foods the rest of the day.

    If you're not in a severe diet–let's say just 200 or so calories below maintenance–then you can probably use a single cheat meal and have it work pretty well.

    Finally, regarding the inflammation weight, I always recommend having a full Fast Day after a Cheat Day, which helps a lot.

    Thanks for posting, btw, great question!

  • I was a chubby kid as well, actually chubby is an understatement.

    I definitely have this problem sometimes, recently I celebrated my b-day, a few meals out to eat led to a whole off week. I'm back on track now but I've felt gross the past few days and it's made it harder to return to my normal routine.

  • Jonny

    Great post Roman. I've been dieting a while now and I have actually noticed a shift between the two mindsets you mentioned. Namely, initially when, I had a lot of fat to lose, I was super-strict, the everything or nothing approach. However, as I have got leaner I have noticed that I can allow myself foods which aren't necessarily “on” my diet without the blow-out or guilt. With this in mind I was wondering what your opinion is on so called “dirty dieting”. In other words, assuming protein is kept high and constant do you think there is a physiological consequence from including some foods you crave as long as you stay within you calorie and macro-nutrient requirements for the day. Lets also assume, for the sake of argument, that this does not mean vegetables, fruit etc are removed from the diet. Thanks!

  • Hey Roman, is there any reason why you don't eat fast food? I'm a bit of an ecto-endomorph – I have skinny-fat genetics and a months' hiatus from lifting has transformed me back into one. So, I share your pain.

    Anyway, this CYWT diet really interests me. What kind of bonus workouts are you giving out? Oh, and can you choose not to cheat to lose more on a given week, if you're really, really motivated and can last, say, 3 weeks before your first cheat? I'm just wondering if cheating actually helps you lose fat or if it's purely for the psychological release and can be allowed into your diet for the hard work you've put in throughout the week. I know about leptin, but I still wonder if the hormones make a difference to us public people.

  • Good tip. This should be a wake up call for those who goes cheating on their diet.

  • Ty

    The beard looks great, and I always enjoy your videos.

  • Bangkok Jay

    Great tip. Still hard to totally get into the cheat “day” concept vs cheat meals. I'd had better luck with the latter, requiring less time to lose the inflammation weight. Could it be that for some folks a cheat meal is better than a cheat day vis-a-vis recovery? As both should benefit from the leptin boost. Thanks.