Here is a recent post of mine followed by a comment that I received…
Well Nick I disagree with you on that subject. The joy of life is with family friends around good food and drink. Being raised in an Italian family the world revolved around the dining table. Being a type I diabetic during most of the year I’m very strict what foods I eat but during the holidays with family and friends I cheat , it may be just for a day but it’s a chance to feel normal. Merry Christmas to you and your family.
That compelled me to write this article…not out of anger or a need to defend myself, but because I feel that too many people fall into this trap.
The comment made me realize that too many people dislike their day-to-day lives. This is quite troubling. The problem arises when it becomes necessary to temporarily “get away,” “cheat,” “splurge,” or “escape.” The purpose of this article is not to encourage restriction on holidays, but rather to explore the other 364 days of the year to shed light on why the feeling of restriction and the urge to “cheat” and indulge exists. My hope in writing this article is that you will structure your day-to-day so that everyday feels like a holiday!
I get asked all the time whether or not I ever have a “cheat day” or if I ever just don’t feel like going to the gym. When I say, “no,” my willpower, consistency, and dedication usually get praised or even envied. The reality is that it would take willpower to keep me away from those things. I love the food that I eat and I love training. Why would I want to take a break or find an escape from what I love? It has become a lifestyle. If you create a sustainable training and nutrition program that you love, there’s no need for “cheating.” As a physical therapist, I don’t always like taking days off. Why? Because I work with great people and improve people’s lives, every single day. Why would I want to stop that?
It is unfortunate, for the individual that left the comment, that a holiday is needed to enjoy “family, friends, and good food and drink” (relative to what his/her individual palate finds pleasing, of course). I am fortunate enough to say that I get the same satisfaction that others get around the holiday dinner table, not just on a certain holiday (or once a week, once a month, or even once a year), but every single day of my life. I genuinely enjoy my day-to-day (except maybe for shaving the lower portion of my neck or dealing with people who rack the 5’s and 10’s behind 35 and 45lb plates), so why would I feel a need to “cheat” or change on a holiday? If you’re not enjoying the food you eat, or the amount or quality of time spent with family and friends throughout the year, some restructuring needs to be done to make the day-to-day as pleasing and as satisfying as the holiday “cheat.” Then, when a holiday comes around, there is no need to change, “cheat,” or even think about food. Rather, the focus will be on the meaning of the holiday, which most of the time includes things like togetherness, charity, humility, benevolence, gratitude, and love instead of “cheating,” splurging, or straying from your norm.
Now…I’ve been married for a whole two years…so take what I am about to say with a grain (or a tablespoon) of salt.
When you choose a spouse or significant other, you choose someone that fills you with passion and is “sustainable” for life. I don’t want to “get away” from my wife. I love her. Is the fact that I don’t feel a need to have a “cheat day” on my wife a result of some grand, envious willpower? Of course not. It’s effortless to stay consistent in my marriage, just like it’s effortless to stay consistent in my nutrition, training, and way of life. If we don’t feel the need to have “cheat days” or take vacations from our spouses, why do we feel the need to have “cheat days” and take breaks from our nutrition, training and day-to-day- lives? The amount of effort used in finding a spouse or significant other to love unconditionally for the rest of our lives should be used in all that we do. We wouldn’t say, “I don’t see myself married to her forever, but hey, it’s a good move for now.”
editorial note: a few people have misunderstood Nick’s message that he is saying either 1) people who cheat on their diet are likely to cheat on their spouse, or vice versa, or that 2) cheating on your spouse is morally similar or equivalent to cheating on your diet. Neither is the intended message, rather he is pointing out that we while we immediately identify cheating on a spouse as an indication of a problem with a marriage, we often don’t realize that cheating on your diet can often signify that your diet might be unsustainable. Sorry for any confusion.
It doesn’t make sense to only tell your wife you love her or buy her flowers on your anniversary or Valentine’s Day, right? Of course not. That’s something that should be done every single day, so that when that anniversary or Valentine’s Day comes around, nothing has to change…and actually, nothing CAN change. Going above and beyond (splurging, indulging, etc.) becomes difficult when the day-to-day is consistent with the “holiday.” If I feel a need to do something above and beyond for my wife on a certain holiday, or if it is easy to go above and beyond, I am falling short on the other 364 days of the year. If I feel the need to change on a holiday in order to enjoy food and family, I must be doing something wrong the rest of the year. If the day-to-day feels like a holiday, you’ll be good to go and, like me, will never have the urge or need to “cheat” on anything.
I could be way off, but I do know this. I love my day-to-day and I definitely don’t want to take a break, escape, or “cheat” on anything anytime soon. My goal is to help everyone find that feeling. Do something that effortlessly makes you happy, everyday. If you find your passion, pursue it, and make it your life, everyday will feel like a holiday. Love your journey. Happy Holidays!
Nicholas M. Licameli, PT, DPT
Doctor of Physical Therapy / Pro Natural Bodybuilder
Nick believes in giving himself to others in an attempt to make the world a happier, healthier, and more loving place. He wants to give people the power to change their lives. Bodybuilding and physical therapy just act as mediums for carrying out that cause. Love. Passion. Respect. Humility. Never an expert. Always a student. Love your journey.