It is OK to cheat.

I often get asked if I ever “cheat” and the answer, of course, is “Yes!”

A successful eating plan is not based around what we can’t have, but more what we choose to have. The moment we are told we can never have a chocolate bar again, that is what we fixate on … on how much we want a chocolate bar. It is all a state of mind.

As soon as you make the decision that you do not want a chocolate bar and that you could have one if you really wanted one, but you choose to have an apple and peanut butter instead, then the desire for the chocolate bar is less.

Now, your rules don’t go out the window because I told you that you could have a chocolate bar whenever you want. The point is that it is you who has to make the decision as to what you want. What is more important to you? … the moment of immediate satisfaction from food or the long-term satisfaction that comes from meeting your goals and living a longer, healthier life?

Deprivation is not the key.

Try to follow the 80/20 rule. Eat Clean 80 per cent of the time and then allow yourself to indulge the other 20 per cent, whether this is a small treat each day, or an evening a week that you choose to eat whatever you want.

You will find that the more you allow yourself a little give, the tighter your diet will be. You must be sure that you are honest with yourself for that 80 per cent of the time, not allowing little “slip-ups” that you ignore.

Remember, you are not failing. No one can go through 12 months of the year with no indulgence. Maybe our indulgences are at different levels, but we all have celebrations throughout the year when we would like to allow ourselves a treat: birthdays, Christmas, anniversaries, Thanksgiving, New Year’s, etc.

Remember not to go all-out on your “free” meals, either. No bingeing; just enjoying. Practise conscious eating; for instance, if you decide that Saturday is going to be a “free” day and then you eat out for an office lunch on Thursday, you cannot then have Saturday as well. You must make a choice.

In the end, your eating habits have to be something that you can sustain you whole life long. Be honest with yourself; try not to be a superhero. Even personal trainers and fitness competitors allow themselves treats every once and a while.

This column is provided by Peak Fitness. Mrs. Lee Randell is an ACE-certified personal trainer. Contact information and past articles are available at www.peakfitnessyukon.com. Anyone who wants to begin an exercise program should consult their physician first.

This column is provided by Mrs. Lee Randell, independent fitness consultant, who is an ACE certified advanced health and fitness specialist and personal trainer. You can reach her at www.mrsleerandell.com.