What to Do When Cheating Leads to Guilt

Did you honestly think you could stick to your training plan or eat perfectly 100% of the time - 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year?

My Situation...

I'm currently sitting in a hotel as I write this. I started a new training cycle just over three weeks ago and have diligently followed my meal plan for the same period of time. However, I am now in this hotel for a week on business. I have no access to cooking facilities or food preparation. I have a very limited fitness facility. I have to attend social functions and eat in restaurants and pubs. How hard do you think it is going to be for me to stick to my meal plan and training program?

Training wise, I have modified my program to suit what I have available - resistance bands I brought with me and the equipment the hotel does have. Although full boxing workouts are going to be on hold until I get back, I know I am going to be able to continue training.

More...

Food is a different beast. I am at the whim of what I can cobble together off a menu in the local pub - or else starve to death. Starving does bad things to the metabolism and will actually hurt my progress, so I attempt to eat as healthy as I can - but only three times a day vs the six times I'm used to. Meetings, activities, and lack of ability to prep foods are preventing the other three. And I admit it, I've cheated on my program. Tonight I had a big juicy burger and fries. Burgers and fries are not on my meal plan.

Lessons Identified...

Now, if you're anything like me, when you may find yourself in this position where you've cheated and are feeling a little guilty. Especially if you made a serious commitment to yourself to follow through with your training. You probably feel like you've let yourself, and maybe others down. That you aren't good enough, strong enough, dedicated enough, or committed enough to succeed. If only you had been a little more prepared and motivated to plan for the unexpected. The guilt is gnawing away at you bit by bit and tempts you to quit altogether or rationalizes cheating some more. After all, you already screwed up - why not make the most of it?

Honestly ask yourself if you are okay with missing that training or eating that piece of cake? If you are, I'd question the level of commitment you made in starting your training in the first place, or you've mastered your guilt. If you aren't, what you are feeling is normal - that feeling of letting yourself down. How you use these feelings in the next few minutes is going to seriously alter your future training gains.

Guilt will likely affect you in one of two ways:

  1. Guilt will give you a reason to quit. This is extremely dangerous. If you catch yourself thinking like this you need to immediately get on Commando Boxing and look at your progress reports (hopefully you've been doing them). If not, try to visualize how far you have come in such a short period of time. Remember back to the day when you couldn't figure out how to wrap your hands or throw a proper jab; remember when you couldn't last more than thirty seconds on the heavy bag or hold your hands up for an entire round.

    And now, look at where you are. See the progress you have made and realize that it doesn't matter if you cheated. You may have spent 21 days getting to where you are - one missed workout or piece of cake is not going to put you back to day one. It doesn't work like that.

    You didn't just wake up one day fat and overweight, so don't trick yourself into thinking you are doomed to failure because of one or even a series of missteps. In the long term, as long as you are "in the right" 51% of the time, you are going to succeed. 90% will make you succeed even faster...

  2. Guilt will give you a reason to succeed. This is extremely advantageous. Capitalize on your feelings of anger and resentment towards yourself. Channel it into your training and do it as soon as you can - like right now.

    If you find yourself angry at yourself for cheating, you can use that to fuel an even more intense desire to train harder and push yourself to never cheat again. Hold on to these thoughts and embed them, so the next time you are tempted you can recall this memory and relive it.

    To do this, you have to remember every detail of how you are feeling now and burn it into your mind. Now think of a code word and associate your feelings with that code word. If you do this right, the next time you are in a situation where you are tempted to break your training plan or eat something not on your meal plan - just think the code word. If the association is strong enough, your mind will play back the feelings and make you relive your guilt. This could be enough to stop you from making the same mistake.

Time to Learn the Lesson now Identified...

One thing you have to realize is that nobody sticks to their training plan and meal plans 100% of the time. Everyone is guilty at one time or another of cheating. I believe this is true, even of the top competitors in every field. However, those people who cheat less are likely the same people who become champions in their chosen area of competition. Those who cheat and let the guilt consume them until they quit continue to live their mediocre lives.

You have no reason to feel guilty for cheating. If you have been training hard and following your meal plans, then consider the cheating a reward for all the hard work you have done. Congratulate yourself and let yourself enjoy your predicament -- experience it and then move on. Just remember a reward is only a reward if it is given following a period of hard training. If you cheat everyday, you've fallen completely off track and need to reassess your situation.

I'm not going to tell you to stop feeling guilty because it isn't something normal people can control. If you could, you'd be a sociopath. But when the conditions are right, and you do cheat, use the guilt to your advantage and rejoice in it. Beating yourself up about it does you no good at all. Leave the beatings for the ring.  Boxon.

    Coach Aaron

    Coach Aaron founded Commando Boxing in 2003. When he's not boxing, he's running ultramarathons or using data science/blockchains to create mixed reality HoloLens applications.

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