My Fitness Journey

Part 24: Fancy a Cheat Meal?

Chris Brophy's Cheat Meal

I am fast approaching the twelve month mark; the point where I can say I am one whole year in to my fitness journey. It’s fair to say that I’ve not eaten like a true nutritional expert this past year. In fact, health geniuses out there would love to scrutinise my food diary and tear it to shreds. Sure, I don’t get enough Vitamin this and that and yes I’m sure the iron levels and amount of saturated fats I’ve consumed would make them wince also. But the whole point in my fitness journey is to lose weight my way and in my time, and if I fancy a cheat meal then I’ll have one!

It’s also fair to say that I’m not doing this completely alone, in that I am reading articles on the Internet and in Men’s Fitness magazine which I love by the way. So I am taking advice from some people, but what I’m trying to say is that I don’t have a personal trainer or nutritional expert on hand to personally advise me on what’s good specifically for me. Am I learning the hard way? Probably, although what works for them may not work for me, and what works for me may not work for you. We’re all different. Sure it’d be easier having a nutritional expert and PT on hand to shape me up in no time, but I want to prove to people that they can lose weight themselves without all the fuss in their own time, at home without the diet plans and gym memberships.

I know it’s achieveable because this week I hit my 50lbs weight loss milestone. Fifty whole pounds of bouncing British blubber gone from this formerly grotesque body of mine. Again, no gym membership or personal trainer or crash diet, just me on my own with huge amounts of willpower and focus! It was always important that I did things my way, in my own time without any pressure. It had to be exercise I’d love and food I genuinely wanted to eat.

Urgh… salad?

As you’ll know from reading my previous posts, I’d never eaten salad in my entire life; the same for cereal too, and I certainly didn’t drink water. These were all things I wanted to like and knew I’d need to try in order to break myself away from the junk food I’d spent my entire life eating. Earlier last year, I spent £100 in one month alone just on fast foods from Subway, McDonalds, KFC and the local Chinese and Indian takeaways!  So the thought of eating anything different scared the hell out of me.

What was important was that I made gradual changes to my diet in order to avoid too many stomach issues from occurring. There were times early on in this journey where I’d experience horrific stomach pains and have a few regular toilet trips (too much info I know!) … but that was bound to happen I suppose. I didn’t have many issues I’m pleased to say; just the one I recall, but the pain was horrendous at times.

I now only have healthier McDonalds or Nando’s meals whenever I go there which has to be only once every few months anyway. During the week, I still have two healthy shakes a day; nothing stupidly expensive like the Forza or Herbalife stuff, I’m talking about Tesco’s own brand of meal replacement shakes. They’re around £4 for ten shakes or £6 for two boxes (20 in total). The nutritional values are exactly the same as the Forza shakes which when I last checked were on sale for well over £20! Check out my article on Forza’s supplements here and there’s also an article about my accidental overdose on Forza supplements here. That was a very worrying time for me early in my fitness journey.

Having two shakes a day has at times made me extremely hungry, but in some ways it’s made me enjoy my 5pm dinner better. I have a shake at 8am, another around lunchtime and then a healthy meal at 5, but it’s not always been like that. Like I said, when I first started on this journey I’d have cereal for breakfast. Now that’s a result as far as I’m concerned because I’d never eaten cereal in my life, but, despite some cereals claiming to be healthy there are some downsides such as sugar content. So it was several months in to my journey before I got prized myself away from the sugary cereals and onto low-calorie breakfast bars or shakes. Again, Tesco do very reasonable meal replacement bars for around the same price as the shakes.

Don’t get me wrong, they do make you feel hungry afterwards but lets’ face it, I’m a former fat man who used to pile his plate high with junk and now I eat small portions of healthier food, so I’m bound to feel like I’ve been hit by a bus at times!

Stay focused!

Early on in my fitness journey I was extremely focused. I had to make sure that I did not sway away from the healthy foods I was moving myself over to gradually. No cheat meals for me, and I seriously recommend that right at the beginning of your fitness journey (if you’re on one!) that you don’t sway off track either. Watch what you eat closely and keep a food diary so that you are monitoring the caloric intake.

Once you’re in full swing with this whole fitness journey thing, then you don’t need to be quite as obsessive over food diaries because you’ll just know what’s right for you and how many calories you’re taking in per day. Sure there are other factors to consider like sugar intake and protein, and apps like MyFitnessPal enable you to track all of that by scanning your foods throughout the day. That’s all good early on in your journey, but it’s a huge pain in the backside after a while. It’s seriously boring walking around your kitchen scanning the barcodes of your food so you can register it in your app. I felt like I was on the checkout at Asda!

When you see results, and I mean obvious impressive results like serious weight loss, then you’re perfectly able to eat what the hell you like. Seriously, do it.  Not in the early days of weight loss, because you’re more likely to quit and go back to your fatty ways if you do it too soon into your fitness journey. Once you’re so many months in, then treat yourself. I don’t mean have a large Big Mac meal with side portions that’d fill three plates. Let’s be sensible-ish here.

What’s important is that you reward yourself for all of the hard work by eating a small meal that is not the norm for you since you’ve been on your “journey” like a burger for example. Slimming World do extremely tasty healthy burgers by the way. You can buy these from Iceland (the supermarket, no country!) for around £3.00  So please don’t think that healthy food has to be boring food, because actually, you can eat healthy burgers, healthy sausages and even healthy curries. All the kinds of food you’ve been used to eating, except there’s less of it and it has less fat!

What happens when I cheat though?

Recently, it was warm here in Manchester (UK). The sun was beating down and my family were in the hot tub outside with our Spa Bar. It’s a floating device where you can put your Nachos and cold drinks. I gave in and munched on some Doritos and the day after I even had two lots of ice cream. I don’t mean two scoops… I mean two actual bowls!  There was even a trip to Nando’s which was a treat by my other half. But guess what… I still managed to lose over 2 pounds in weight that week.

Those of you desperately trying to lose weight will either be reaching for the ice cream right now, or hating me for what I’ve achieved that week. Let me make this clear though, I usually eat very well and did for the other 6 days that week and I worked extremely hard on my exercises also. So please don’t think that you can start your fitness journey and a week later go have a cheat meal and then expect to lose weight because you won’t. You just will not… it’s not going to happen, ever.

Taking a cheat meal early on in your “journey” is only going to get your taste buds back to how they were before you decided to get fit. It’s a fact! Taking a cheat meal a month in is fine, but I don’t see why you should unless you’ve shifted a huge amount of weight.  It was a good four or five months in before I allowed myself to cheat, and as I’ve just said I STILL DO!

I actually recommend that you do. It gives you a reason to work hard throughout the week, and I mean hard. Not a slow trot around the park for 10 minutes, I mean real hard work such as High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). Blast your body with a workout that will make you fill two buckets of sweat and eat healthily all week. Then on Saturday’s still eat a couple of healthy meals that day, but treat yourself to one cheat meal.  You’re more likely to stick with your fitness plan if you allow yourself a treat, than if you were to go 7 days eating boring salads. It will drive you insane and you’ll give up on your plan to fight fit.

You need to have the willpower of a giant to do cheat meals though. If you’re the sort of person who will eat fried chicken and then fall back into your fatty ways, then avoid it at all costs. You need to be strong and believe that after you’ve eaten that fried chicken you’re back to working out in the morning.

Have a cheat meal – not a cheat day!

OK that’s a bit rich coming from me, the guy who had a Nando’s, a handful of Doritos and two lots of ice cream in one day… but that’s the first time I’ve done that in a year!)

Quick Progress Report

I will provide you with a full update on my fitness progress in a couple of weeks on August 1st when I hit my one year anniversary of fighting fit. But in a nutshell, I’m continuing to lose weight at a rate of around 1lb to 2.5lbs a week. Total weight loss so far is 50lbs bringing me down from 231 to 181lbs. In British weight terms, that’s 12 stone 13lbs down from 16 stone 7 pounds.

My mood was a bit low last week and I wasn’t myself, quite ill at times. I think that this had an effect on progress, although to be fair I still managed to lose just over a pound. Whenever I tried to workout, I felt like I wanted to quit just minutes in and I did on days when I was too physically sick to lift weights. My mind was saying “go on Chris do a workout”, but my body was saying “rest up or you’ll do yourself some serious damage”.

That’s what’s important here… knowing when you’re having a “can’t be bothered” day or when you’re having a genuine illness day. If the former, then you need to pull yourself together and just get that workout done. Don’t even think about reaching for the junk food either. Nibbles are banned when you’re having a crap day! If you’re genuinely feeling ill, then a rest is essential. I’m not talking about having a sore throat or the deadly man-flu here, I’m talking about being completely run down by a virus. That’s when it’s time to grab a lemon and glass of hot water, put your feet up, grab the iPad and rest up whilst reading the latest blog post by your favourite former fatty!… here at The Brophy Blog!

A full update is coming in a couple of weeks, but in the meantime please don’t forget to check out my daily posts on Instagram (see the Images page here!) Plus I’m over on Facebook and Twitter.

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