Food. Wonderful, glorious, food. A life of structured eating and training should always include a little wiggle room for occasional indulgences.

 

cheat meals, fast food, calories

 

Behind the scenes at the Breaking Muscle podcast, we asked each coach to reveal his or her favorite "cheat meal." Surprisingly, even individuals who consistantly perform at the top of their game allow for a little break here and there to relax.

 

Pizza was the overwhelming favorite, but it turns out that our coaches' favorite tasty treats range from family-sized portions of frozen to one very strange sandwich:

 

Team Pizza

Strength and conditioning expert Andrew Read laid claim to his amazing ability to eat a family-sized Kit Kat in under five minutes. When it comes to his favorite regular cheat meal, though, Andrew enjoys making a weekly homemade pizza. This gives a person two advantages:

 

  1. You can control the portion and nutritional content of your pizza and...
  2. You are eating a pizza every week. 

 

That sounds like a big win-win to us.

 

Click the play button below to hear more more about Andrew's pizza habit at 2:03:

 

 

For coach and master's CrossFit athlete Patrick McCarty, it's all about pizza domination. He keeps his diet in check most of the time, but after a competition, he will spoil himself with an entire pie from his favorite restaurant. 

 

 

What do these have in common? It is okay to enjoy your favorite food, but find a balance between your activity level, portion sizes, and frequency of indulgences. Keep these things in check and you won't have to worry about whether or not something is a "cheat meal" - you'll already be doing everything else right.

 

Pat McCarty talks about using pizza as a competition re-fuel at 2:51:

 

 

Strive to Find Balance

Biomechanist and movement expert Katy Bowman doesn't believe in framing food as "healthy" versus "cheat meals." Instead, she focuses on how food makes her feel. Sweet and sticky baklava is one of her favorite desserts, but she knows from experience that eating too much will not feel good. That, she explains, is enough to help her keep her treats in check.

 

Listen to Katy's bonus round to learn more about how she keeps her life in balance at 1:45:

 

 

Take it from an experts - eating and drinking does not have to be full of stress. Build some solid healthy habits for yourself and pay attention how certain foods make you feel. You may find that your favorites fall naturally within those parameters.

 

How We Eat Is Part of Who We Are

Everyone has a favorite "mom specialty" or hometown favorite to look forward to when they visit home. Dr. John Rusin credits his favorite cheat meal to his Buffalo, New York roots: a chicken finger sub smothered in buffalo sauce, mayonnaise, and bleu cheese served on a fresh white roll.

 

Listening to Dr. Rusin talk about his favorite sandwich will make your mouth water at 4:34:

 

 

Maybe it is a special dish that grandpa made during the holidays growing up or something that just reminds us of home. Sometimes, eating a food that connects us back to who we are can be a highly satisfying break from our regular diets. When Dr. Levi Harrison shared with us that his mother hates to see him eat his favorite sandwich, we couldn't help but laugh with him. Who could blame her? Dr. Levi officially wins the award for world's weirdest sandwich: peanut butter, jelly, and kalamata olives.

 

Dr. Levi describes his love for the world's weirdest sandwich 1:11:

 

 

Lesson learned: when you are planned and consistent with your nutrition, no matter how strange your tastes may be, little slices of home and family can be the best treats.

 

Remember: This Is Supposed to Be Fun

Fitness and good nutrition should never be a drag. In fact, it should be something that makes us feel great. Even female bodybuilding competitior Kalli Youngstrom can laugh at her own favorite cheat: a top-secret super-sized portion of frozen yogurt from a local shop. Treats like these are guilt-free for Kalli, though, because of the time and the dedication she puts into her fitness and physique. She knows a periodic splurge can be a well-needed break from structure.

 

Kalli Youngstrom talks about secret frozen yogurt super-sizes here at 2:34:

 

 

Keeping things light and fun might be the number one key to truly embracing a healthy lifestyle. Don't drive yourself crazy trying to cut every single treat and indulgence out of your routine. If a beer here or there during football season makes you happy, have one. If you look forward to a slice of your mother's apple pie every Thanksgiving, plan for it and enjoy.

 

As you can see, even some of the best coaches in the world like to spoil themselves once and a while. If you need it, don't be scared to allow yourself a nutritional break.

 

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Photo 1 courtesy of Shutterstock.

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