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Eating Unhealthy Foods Can Actually Make You Lose Weight

Eating Unhealthy Foods Can Actually Make You Lose Weight

What role do unhealthy foods play in weight loss?

Strictly speaking, eating junk food plays no role in weight loss. Pizza, hamburgers, candy and other unhealthy foods do not add much nutrition to your diet, and being high in calories they do little in themselves to regulate your weight. However, as anyone who has ever been on a diet knows, it’s almost impossible to stick to a perfectly healthy eating plan and strict exercise regimen all the time.

In fact, the moment you decide to abandon your old unhealthy favorites forever, you probably start craving them more often than ever before! Luckily, research suggests that the best way to stick with a diet in the long run and give yourself the best possible chance of losing weight is to intentionally cheat. Yes, planning to bail on your diet temporarily can help you shift the pounds.

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The power of cheat days

When you give yourself the gift of a cheat day, you can stare temptation in the face and not give in, knowing that you only have a few more days to wait until you can indulge. When you impose restrictions on your diet, you place yourself under enormous mental strain.

It is difficult to say ‘No’ to junk food, especially in our society where it is cheaper and more readily accessible than ever before. When you know that you have a cheat day coming up, you are less likely to feel sorry for yourself or have a ‘what the heck’ moment and give into your cravings.

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The science behind cheating on your diet

Researchers from Portugal put participants on a 10,500 calorie per week diet (by comparison, the average American man eats over 17,000 calories in an average week) and monitored their weight loss. Half of the participants were allocated a cheat day, being allowed to eat whatever they wanted every Sunday.

After two weeks, all participants had lost weight. Interestingly, there was no difference in average amount of weight lost between the two groups. Moreover, those who were allowed a cheat day every day felt more motivated to work towards future weight loss goals.

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Rita Coelho do Vale Ph.D., who lead the study, believes that the effort required to restrain yourself whilst on a diet can result in unplanned splurges. Intentionally setting yourself up for indulgences, however, can help you maintain an overall level of willpower.

In her words, ‘…when goal-deviation behaviors are planned, that is, part of the long-term plan they may actually help rather than hurt successful goal pursuit.’

How to make cheat days work for you

So how often should you include a cheat day in your diet? The research cited above suggests that taking one day off from your diet or weight-maintainence regimen could help you stick to your healthy habits on other days of the week.

When you take a cheat day, try not to go overboard! It’s fine to enjoy a couple of treats, but eating to the point of excess will only make you feel lethargic and sick. You don’t want to have to contend with a junk food hangover the next morning when it’s time to get up for your usual healthy breakfast.

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You could also consider incorporating extra exercise on your cheat days to burn off the extra calories, but take care not to go overboard in an attempt to get rid of every single calorie. Your aim should be to take a relaxed, positive attitude to your eating pattern, including scheduled and enjoyable cheat days. So the next time you want a slice of pizza but don’t want to break your diet, simply make a note to have a big slice on your next cheat day. In the long run, it’s good for you!

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Jay Hill

Jay writes about communication and happiness on Lifehack.

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Last Updated on January 21, 2020

The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

Creating a vision for your life might seem like a frivolous, fantastical waste of time, but it’s not: creating a compelling vision of the life you want is actually one of the most effective strategies for achieving the life of your dreams. Perhaps the best way to look at the concept of a life vision is as a compass to help guide you to take the best actions and make the right choices that help propel you toward your best life.

your vision of where or who you want to be is the greatest asset you have

    Why You Need a Vision

    Experts and life success stories support the idea that with a vision in mind, you are more likely to succeed far beyond what you could otherwise achieve without a clear vision. Think of crafting your life vision as mapping a path to your personal and professional dreams. Life satisfaction and personal happiness are within reach. The harsh reality is that if you don’t develop your own vision, you’ll allow other people and circumstances to direct the course of your life.

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    How to Create Your Life Vision

    Don’t expect a clear and well-defined vision overnight—envisioning your life and determining the course you will follow requires time, and reflection. You need to cultivate vision and perspective, and you also need to apply logic and planning for the practical application of your vision. Your best vision blossoms from your dreams, hopes, and aspirations. It will resonate with your values and ideals, and will generate energy and enthusiasm to help strengthen your commitment to explore the possibilities of your life.

    What Do You Want?

    The question sounds deceptively simple, but it’s often the most difficult to answer. Allowing yourself to explore your deepest desires can be very frightening. You may also not think you have the time to consider something as fanciful as what you want out of life, but it’s important to remind yourself that a life of fulfillment does not usually happen by chance, but by design.

    It’s helpful to ask some thought-provoking questions to help you discover the possibilities of what you want out of life. Consider every aspect of your life, personal and professional, tangible and intangible. Contemplate all the important areas, family and friends, career and success, health and quality of life, spiritual connection and personal growth, and don’t forget about fun and enjoyment.

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    Some tips to guide you:

    • Remember to ask why you want certain things
    • Think about what you want, not on what you don’t want.
    • Give yourself permission to dream.
    • Be creative. Consider ideas that you never thought possible.
    • Focus on your wishes, not what others expect of you.

    Some questions to start your exploration:

    • What really matters to you in life? Not what should matter, what does matter.
    • What would you like to have more of in your life?
    • Set aside money for a moment; what do you want in your career?
    • What are your secret passions and dreams?
    • What would bring more joy and happiness into your life?
    • What do you want your relationships to be like?
    • What qualities would you like to develop?
    • What are your values? What issues do you care about?
    • What are your talents? What’s special about you?
    • What would you most like to accomplish?
    • What would legacy would you like to leave behind?

    It may be helpful to write your thoughts down in a journal or creative vision board if you’re the creative type. Add your own questions, and ask others what they want out of life. Relax and make this exercise fun. You may want to set your answers aside for a while and come back to them later to see if any have changed or if you have anything to add.

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    What Would Your Best Life Look Like?

    Describe your ideal life in detail. Allow yourself to dream and imagine, and create a vivid picture. If you can’t visualize a picture, focus on how your best life would feel. If you find it difficult to envision your life 20 or 30 years from now, start with five years—even a few years into the future will give you a place to start. What you see may surprise you. Set aside preconceived notions. This is your chance to dream and fantasize.

    A few prompts to get you started:

    • What will you have accomplished already?
    • How will you feel about yourself?
    • What kind of people are in your life? How do you feel about them?
    • What does your ideal day look like?
    • Where are you? Where do you live? Think specifics, what city, state, or country, type of community, house or an apartment, style and atmosphere.
    • What would you be doing?
    • Are you with another person, a group of people, or are you by yourself?
    • How are you dressed?
    • What’s your state of mind? Happy or sad? Contented or frustrated?
    • What does your physical body look like? How do you feel about that?
    • Does your best life make you smile and make your heart sing? If it doesn’t, dig deeper, dream bigger.

    It’s important to focus on the result, or at least a way-point in your life. Don’t think about the process for getting there yet—that’s the next stepGive yourself permission to revisit this vision every day, even if only for a few minutes. Keep your vision alive and in the front of your mind.

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    Plan Backwards

    It may sound counter-intuitive to plan backwards rather than forwards, but when you’re planning your life from the end result, it’s often more useful to consider the last step and work your way back to the first. This is actually a valuable and practical strategy for making your vision a reality.

    • What’s the last thing that would’ve had to happen to achieve your best life?
    • What’s the most important choice you would’ve had to make?
    • What would you have needed to learn along the way?
    • What important actions would you have had to take?
    • What beliefs would you have needed to change?
    • What habits or behaviors would you have had to cultivate?
    • What type of support would you have had to enlist?
    • How long will it have taken you to realize your best life?
    • What steps or milestones would you have needed to reach along the way?

    Now it’s time to think about your first step, and the next step after that. Ponder the gap between where you are now and where you want to be in the future. It may seem impossible, but it’s quite achievable if you take it step-by-step.

    It’s important to revisit this vision from time to time. Don’t be surprised if your answers to the questions, your technicolor vision, and the resulting plans change. That can actually be a very good thing; as you change in unforeseeable ways, the best life you envision will change as well. For now, it’s important to use the process, create your vision, and take the first step towards making that vision a reality.

    Featured photo credit: Matt Noble via unsplash.com

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