The Cake Is A Lie (That You Tell Yourself)
[caption id="attachment_3182" align="aligncenter" width="775"] Nothing to see here folks.[/caption] “I worked out really hard today, I earned this piece of cake.” Does that sentence sound familiar? Maybe the pastry is different but the sentiment is the same: In a life of trying to work out and eat well, sometimes your give yourself a little reward. Well in my official capacity as Krav Maga Instructor and official Ruiner of Things, I have to tell you that those aren’t rewards at all. In fact, they’re quite the opposite. Don’t get me wrong. I definitely believe in junk food and rest days; hopefully you are on a workout and diet regimen that allows for both. However we have to be honest with ourselves that things that are bad for us are not rewards, they are indulgences. And there’s nothing wrong with an indulgence, but it fills a very different role than a reward. Your membership to Krav Maga Raleigh is a reward; your healthy diet is a reward. Things that improve your quality of life are the true rewards, and the rest are just indulgences. I’m going to use cake as a stand-in for any indulgence, because everyone likes cake! And if you don’t like cake you can just substitute something else, like the candy you stole from a baby you monster. So let’s say you just did a Krav/Fitness combo class. You probably burned enough calories to power a Mini Cooper and now it’s time to refuel. You go out to eat with some other survivors from Krav Maga Raleigh and after a healthy, satisfying entrée you think, “You know I really worked hard, I should get some cake.” But that cake is going to destroy any calorie deficit you earned. And if you’re trying to build a habit of avoiding cake, every time you eat it you’re making that habit harder to achieve. You get a few moments of pleasure and a lot of lost ground. “So Ken,” you ask, “are you telling me I should never eat cake again?” Well that’s probably what we all should do, but let’s be realistic: Willpower is limited and cake is delicious. And there’s nothing wrong with indulging, but let’s at least be honest with ourselves. You can say, “I’ve been tracking my calories and I have an appropriate allotment for cake,” and that’s fine. You can say, “I don’t give a damn about calories and I’m going to eat cake,” and that’s fine too, although I really can’t recommend it as a lifestyle. You can say, “I hate my life and the brief moments of happiness I get while eating cake are the only thing giving meaning to my existence,” and…well there are a lot of problems there, but at least you aren’t lying to yourself about the role of cake in your life. But once you say that cake is a “reward,” positioning it as something good in your life, or even good for you, it gives you more permission to consume it. So by all means eat cake; I certainly do. But don’t kid yourself about what it is. It’s an indulgence that tickles your pleasure receptors for a few minutes and sets you back for a few days. It doesn’t get you closer to the person you want to be. I can put it very simply: When you lose five pounds in a month, do you really want to reward yourself by gaining some of them back?