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Choosing to Cheat

Updated: Feb 7

Choosing to Cheat, Life’s Detours, and Action Steps

As we navigate work and personal life, there will be moments when thoughts of an unknown situation and its related outcomes will weigh heavily on our mind, resulting in feelings of stress. We might even think about “cheating” in certain actions or factions of our life. Now, I’m not talking about cheating on your significant other, but rather on the things that mean the most to you: family, friends, and especially our health and wellness, always come into jeopardy.

Cheating. There is nothing good about it. Cheating leads us down the wrong roads in life. Roads we all have traveled. The roads with potholes, construction, and the scary, dark, unsafe roads. Roads that take us so far off track that we become lost and don’t know how we are ever going to get back to where we started from. We all have been there. Maybe, you’re there now. You could be lost because you have made the choice to take the wrong road. Sometimes knowingly and sometimes unknowingly, but nevertheless, you are here.

We are going to look at some of the ways you can handle those stressful situations that might come into play, one that may cause the movement to cheat, and discuss how to handle them.

Let’s look at some examples. You have a rough day and say to yourself, “I need some ice cream or some sugary treat because I had a rough day.” Which I interpret as, “because a lot happened in my day today, I’m choosing to cheat my eating plan”. “My day was so long, I’m so frustrated and don’t feel like prepping my food”. Which is interpreted as, “I was busy and chose not to take the time to prepare my meals today”.

Everyone has rough days and has difficulty, but it is up to you to make the choice to cheat yourself or to take the time to make your health and wellness your top priority. Through not cheating on yourself, you can live a healthy lifestyle and increase your energy. But first you have to make this change: stop choosing to make excuses. Excuses are like armpits…everyone has them and they all stink. You have to adapt to telling yourself that if you don’t eat the paper and stick to your nutrition plan, that is your choice.

Having identified the primary contributor, you will then be able to determine a helpful response or strategy to minimize the resulting stress and worry. Below are movement-based and mindfulness strategies that can help you better react to situations where thoughts and concerns about unknown outcomes can unnecessarily cause physical and emotional stress. These are the circumstances that unknowingly cause you to cheat. Not only cheating on your nutrition, but also time, as a variable in your life.

1. Accept what is NOT within your control – The first step in reducing anxious thinking about an unknown outcome or situation is to accept that it is out of your direct control. I must tell my clients this specific statement multiple times a week. This relates to the Alcoholics Anonymous serenity prayer of, “Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” There is a lot in life outside of our control. That's why often, we have to remind our mind of it. If accepting situations in life are outside of your control, try practicing an acceptance meditation when you feel overwhelmed. Control your nutrition and your exercise. You are the only one in ultimate control of this.

2. Focus on what you can control – After you accept what is not within your immediate control, the next step is to focus on what you can control. Often, it is behaviors unrelated to the outcome you are worried about but help reduces stress and anxiety. For example, do some physical exercises, go for a walk, or do other calming and relaxing activities that activate the parasympathetic nervous system. More importantly, note that the only thing within your control is your response to worry and anxious thinking.

3. Practice being “present” – There are various mindfulness principles that you can practice to help minimize stress, but the one I recommend the most relates to the practice of being present or being in the moment and conscious of your immediate surroundings. To get started, take a moment and look around yourself and notice what you see, hear, smell, and/or are physically touching (i.e., the chair you are sitting on). Start to mentally tell yourself what you are noticing with your senses, to shift your attention away from anxious thinking.

4. Be present in your physical body - One tool that is extremely helpful in reducing stress is to be present in your body—practice breath-based movements like yoga, tai chi, etc. Even a walk or run where one is actively focused on breathing can help one be mindfully present in one's body. Dancing to music you love is another way to be present in your physical body in those moments. Such examples are also known as embodiment practices. The practice of being present physically in your body or utilizing embodiment techniques is a great strategy to minimize dwelling on past or future thoughts and situations that are especially outside of your control.

5. Pause and take a deep breath – When you start to notice a situation out of your immediate control, another mitigating strategy is to pause and take a deep breath. Despite being simple enough, one would be surprised at how often we overlook this super helpful move. When you find yourself worrying about something out of your control, pause and take a deep, slow breath. It could also be useful to remind yourself of the serenity prayer listed above as you inhale and exhale. As you breathe in and out, tell yourself that you accept what you cannot change, and remind yourself of what you can control - your response.

6. Create a personal affirmation - Another great tool is to create a personal affirmation that you can use when you find yourself actively worrying. A personal affirmation is a cognitive strategy that helps the mind focus its attention on something more productive and helpful. Consequently, it helps shift focus from one’s obsession over the details about the unknown outcome. Examples of useful affirmations could be, "I will remain present to the moment right here and now," "I will accept that I cannot control the outcome of this situation," or "I will remain calm and take a deep breath." To make an affirmation that will more likely work for you, personalize it by drafting the sentence in your own words while writing it down and ensuring that the wording used is positive. Next, put the affirmation somewhere where you will see it when you need it the most.

7. Rinse and repeat – Last but not least, practice makes progress. Keep utilizing these movement-based and mindfulness strategies any time you need them to help reduce unnecessary worry and stress on situations outside of your immediate control.

Although we cannot control situations and stressors in our lives, we can control our response to them. Overall, both mindfulness and movement-based strategies can make a positive difference in moving forward with uncertain situations, thus decreasing our response to cheat. If you are looking to cut corners on your wellness and nutrition, you could be heading down the road of potholes and sharp corners. Let’s fail up and forward.

Chrissy Shuey is a Health Coach with KK Wellness Consulting and Certified Wellness Coach through Spencer Institute®. More than anything, Chrissy loves helping others realize their own personal health and wellness goals, and she enjoys supporting them to find that “inner roar” of strength to do anything they put their mind to doing. Reach Chrissy directly at


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