I Cheat Every Day

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Of all the questions I get asked, there is one that is asked FAR more often than the others: “Do you ever eat ?cheat? foods yourself?” Ladies and gents…I proudly admit that yes, I do. Every single day, in fact. BUT (and that is a huge “but”) it is NEVER off-plan. I have custom created my own meal plan that works for me to include my “morning hug.” It helps me stay on track, fight cravings, and eat healthy every other second of the day…just by allowing myself this one little daily reward. Watch the vid to find out what my daily cheat is, and how exactly I work it into my diet in a way that keeps me moving toward my goals…not away from them.

Depriving ourselves of anything, whether it?s that delicious rocky road ice cream calling our name in the freezer, or that perfectly-glazed donut in the donut shop window, will only lead to us wanting it more!!! Oftentimes, this leads to us obsessing over those dang foods. And we should NEVER give food that power over us!

My key to success? Indulgence…in moderation. By creating a plan that allows me the freedom to occasionally enjoy the foods I love has proven to work miracles for me. This has helped my relationship with food turn from one where it controlled me, to one where now I?control it. While this may not?be the key for everybody, it sure has worked for me, and I invite you to give it a shot if you are one of the MANY attempting (and most likely failing at) the “deprivation game.”

Sounds frightening, I get it. Think of it this way (Chris’ and my favorite way to put it): Try living the 90/10 rule. Ninety percent of the time eat perfectly, and I mean perfectly (NOT to be confused with imperfectly). Then the other 10% of the time, eat imperfectly :). It balances out and makes the perfectly imperfect lifestyle (NOT diet) for people like ME!!!

Do you have a “cheat” or “reward” plan that works for you? I?d love to hear about it, so let me know in the comments below!



66 Responses

  1. Is there a place that I can read about your 90/10 diet? I have read and tried both of your books and the restrictions get to me. I’m interested to learn about your 90/10 rule and counting macros? I’m tired of the restrict and then binge lifestyle.

  2. I LOVE this Heidi! I’m a Dietitian and always talk about the importance of BALANCE. Healthy eating shouldn’t be about deprivation. I myself LOVE flourless chocolate cake. B/C this is so decadent, I have it once a month. I make a nice dinner, invite a friend over, have the cake and send them home with the left overs! πŸ˜‰

  3. I am a flight attendant and as much as you travel, you know how difficult it is to travel and make healthy choices. We are able to carry a ‘food bag’ with us so it makes it more manageable. My biggest concern is also timing. Sometimes we don’t have a minute to sit and eat and end up eating late at night once we are at the hotel. Any suggestions for easy, convenient packable meals. What kind of protein shakes do you use?

    1. You can pack veggies, fruits, nuts, Greek yogurt, low sodium deli meats, etc., as on-the-go foods. There’s an extensive foods list in Chris and Heidi’s book, “Choose More, Lose More for Life,” which will give you lots of other options. For protein powders, Heidi and Chris? Vemma Powell Perfect Protein Shakes are complete high carb meal replacements, and you can get more info by contacting Bob Brenner (one of our amazing season 3 transformations) at [email protected]. In general, Heidi and Chris recommend whey protein powders with 15-20 grams or protein and less than 5 grams of carbs per serving.

  4. Hey Heidi! Love you and Chris. You’re such an inspiration! About cheat meals: I do have mine too…I love banana with cocoa porrigde at breakfast (really common here in Brazil) and also I love tapioca with creamcheese and a little bit of muzzarela in the middle of the afternoon (when I feel like craving something less “diet-ish” than morning or night). That’s how I cheat and just sometimes! πŸ˜‰

  5. I’m so excited I’m shaking. I heard about both of you when I started my first diet bet 7 days ago. Yesterday I bought “choose more, lose more for life”. I’ve been yo yo dieting for almost two decades and success never felt so real, so within my reach. Thank you. God bless you’re family!

  6. Hello, So I have something I hope you can help me with. I am a female who has a rather large lower body. I want to lose weight and get healthier… However I don’t want to do anything that would make my calves or quads larger. What should I do to ensure that doesn’t happen? What should I avoid? And is there any way to slim them? I hope you reply and thank you.

    1. Check out Heidi and Chris’ carb cycling program in their book, “Choose More, Lose More for Life.” The book contains their complete nutrition and exercise program, and it’s the same one they use on the show. It will teach you everything you need to know and do to achieve your own transformation! Learn all about it here: https://heidipowell.net/9060/how-to-begin-your-transformation-journey-step-by-step/. And for your calves/quads, do strength training with lighter weights/higher reps rather than heavier weights/lower reps. The 9-Minute Missions (strength training) in Chris and Heidi’s program is awesome and is a complete body strength training program – give it a try!

  7. I work for starbucks! i wish you came to my store! I’m more amazed that you were allowed to film inside. =) awesome!

  8. Hi Heidi ,
    I love your blog , your fb , your family , your spirit and guidance! Everything. I have a question and it isn’t my first to you but it’s personal . Is there a way I can ask you something on a less public level? My husband says I shouldng be embarrassed but I am. I understand if you can’t. It’s diet related and Im just looking for advice . Thank you for being you ,

  9. We try to stick to a 80/20 around here. Eating healthy all week with a treat on Friday night. My site is called Friday is Cake Night πŸ™‚

  10. I LOVE rewarding myself with cake pops from Starbucks and/or fruit roll ups. I change it up between the two to get my chocolate and sweet treat reward. I either eat one cake pop or 4 fruit roll ups (which is gluten free so I LOVE) every few days and I’ve only “spent” up to 200 calories each (which I work off anyways through out the day). I love rewards too! For me, I ALWAYS eat my cheat food with phytochemical foods to encapsulate some sugars to help absorb excessive sugars. Also, so I have a good amount of fiber digesting with my cheat food! So Heidi and Chris are Super, but they are human as well and indulge every now and again! I love you guys promote rewards instead of food deprivation. =)

  11. Love that she posted this!! Ive been on a low/no carb diet since September and I’m down 19 lbs. While I feel soo much better, I need a taste or a treat here and there and I have been so hard on myself when I do take a bite. Glad to know it’s ok. My biggest struggle right now is my Nutritionist is pushing for the gastric sleeve surgery and I just don’t feel I need that anymore. For the first time ever, I think I got this!! I’m and AZ gal and a huge Powell Family fan, how does Heidi feel about the surgery?

    1. This is something that is best discussed with your healthcare team – what are their thoughts on the surgery? They are best equipped to help you since they know your health history. And congrats on those 19 pounds gone – that is awesome!

  12. Thank you so much for this post and “reality” check. In recent weeks and months I’ve deprived myself of things I truly do enjoy eating under the guise of “real athletes” don’t eat stuff like that. I kept telling myself that not even one of whatever was OK. I’m tired and it has been emotional draining. Your post and video is exactly what I needed to hear and read. I need t find reasonable and responsible ways to incorporate food(s) that give me hugs! I love and appreciate all you two do to make the world a better and happier place. Hugs!

  13. I love the idea of a daily “hug!” I am a traveling SLP, which means I’m in the car driving an awful lot and when I’m not driving, I’m sitting with the kiddos doing therapy on the floor… By the time I get home after a two hour long drive, it’s time for dinner and I don’t feel like doing much of anything else! I am not yet gaining weight from this routine, but there are days where my body can feel the not always healthy eating habits and the no exercise catching up to it, not to mention a loss of definition! Do you have any tips for healthy eating on the go and finding a way to make sure I get a good fitness routine in? I was really motivated to get up and workout when we lived near a Pure Barre studio (a personal favorite workout), but now I just have myself and some weights πŸ˜‰

    1. It can be more difficult to fit healthy eating and exercise into a crazy busy schedule, but it can be done. You can stock healthy foods in your car, prep your meals ahead of time, and work in exercise throughout your day – even if it’s only a few minutes here and there. Chris and Heidi’s book, “Choose More, Lose More for Life,” has lots of food options (some are very portable), as well as lots of quick, healthy, and easy meals (and they give prep ahead ideas). Their exercise program (also in the book) is awesome too! The strength training part of the program (9-Minute Mission) take 9 minutes every morning, and they also have a great cardio program (Shredders). They suggest promising yourself you’ll exercise at least 5 minutes a day, and once you get started, you’ll usually spend longer than 5 minutes. You can do this!

  14. I am following the carb cycle program , love the powell shakes , but the food selection on vemma bode app. Makes me crazy , it never changes ….I know it gives you every tool you need to choose which food for either your high or low carb day , I need to find different things to make , I get tired easy of eating the same things over and over , I like quick and easy except for dinner when I sit with my family . Any snack or lunch ideas ??? In need of some new ideas !!!

    1. Are you carb cycling with the app only? If so, there are lots of food options and recipes in Chris and Heidi’s book, “Choose More, Lose More for Life.” Check it out!

  15. I just can’t control my portion size even if its a healthy food…
    and once I start eating cookies/donuts/sweets I just can’t stop …

    1. If there’s a food(s) that you just can’t stop eating, then it’s best to stay away from those foods for a time. Those are the ones Heidi talks about in the video. As far as portion control, make sure you’re measuring out your foods, and once you’ve got your portions sizes all ready to go, put the rest of the food away. Supplement your meals with veggies (the non-root/non-starchy type), and those will help you feel fuller too. And make sure you’re drinking your water every day – Chris and Heidi recommend 1/2 your body weight in ounces (200 lbs = 100 ounces). That will help you feel fuller too. You can do this!

    1. I’m with you, Shannon. I LOVE my wine. Not sure how it metabolizes though. I’ve heard it metabolizes differently than carbs.

    1. It’s best to discuss any dietary supplements with your healthcare team while pregnant. πŸ™‚

  16. I do this too! If I deprive myself I always end up getting obsessive and crazy. I give myself one treat per day and eat healthy the rest of the time. It keeps me healthy AND sane. I used to struggle with weight but since I’ve started emphasizing fitness over the number on the scale and decided to eat well but not perfectly clean, I haven’t had any problems. Working out has become fun, a challenge instead of a chore, and I still get to enjoy what I eat. Do I have the perfect body I always dreamed of? Not quite, but my % body fat is healthy, I feel good and I’m very fit. Since I’m not a professional athlete or fitness model, that’s good enough for me. I often hear people say that you have to eat perfectly clean and I always get angry because I don’t think it’s feasible in the long run.

  17. Love your video and the guidance you grace us with. But I want to know about your watch in this video! Who makes it?!

  18. I think you guys are amazing! Thankyou for encouraging me in transforming my life as well as others! I’m always wondering how much food I should be eating daily to fit my nutritional needs. Im 34 years old, female. Very active and I have upped my calorie intake to 2300 a day. It seems like alot but Im not satisfied at anything under. I was told my tummy would never lift up without skin surgery. I wonder what percent of fat Iam really at. How do you really know?

    1. You can have your body fat % measured – your healthcare team should be able to help you with this, or a personal trainer at a gym.

  19. I’ve heard of the 80/20 rule, but I go 100% as much as I can. For summer it may be weeks between an indulgence because all that fresh fruit really satisfies me but in the winter I want the starchy stuff so if it fits in my calories I’ll let myself have something. I bet I average out to 2-3 times a week I let myself have something extra. This is my first winter maintaining so finding the balance is still new but the above is how I’ve lost 70lbs and still not deprive myself and it took me about 2 1/2 years to lose and never dropped below 1425 calories per day even with unmedicated pcos.

  20. One more thing…

    I have read some of the comments above and believe me I am no professional but in great shape etc and some state they allow themselves a “cheat day”….I have found that that can lead down the wrong path, try to limit to a “cheat meal” and not a “cheat day”….just something that has helped me along the way!!! πŸ™‚

  21. AWESOME advice Heidi and sooooooo TRUE!!!
    My “daily” hug is my saving grace and totally keeps me on a healthy track the rest of the day!

    1. Chris and Heidi are partial to their Vemma Powell Perfect Protein Shakes, which come in both vanilla ice cream and chocolate ice cream flavors. You can learn more about them by contacting Bob Brenner (one of our amazing season 3 transformations) at [email protected]. πŸ™‚

  22. Seeing this post, makes me feel a lot better because I feel that I also need to have a treat everyday but always felt guilty since you always hear mixed reviews about what is the best way to reward yourself. I do feel that once I get that little treat in, I can move on with my day. πŸ™‚ Thanks for all your tips Heidi, I love following you and Chris and feel like you are the most realistic when it comes to diet and exercise!

    One quick question, I think you’ve mentioned this before, but what kind of drink do you get at Starbucks?

  23. I do a “cheat day” every Sunday. I eat perfectly Monday-Saturday, but Sunday is my day to relax! All week I look forward to my one free day, and it helps keep me motivated to stay on track. That yummy coffee creamer? Tastes better on Sunday morning because it’s been a week since I’ve had it. That cookie that I baked? It’s been in the freezer waiting for me. As I’m grading papers (I teach 5th grade) I feel that I need a boost of enjoyment! πŸ™‚ A slice of pizza goes a long way!

  24. Heidi…. I follow the way you and Chris have “Reward Foods” I also have found myself my body adapting to the Carb Cyclying program you and chris put together. The Best thing that I have ever done for my body and my fitness goals. Appreciate the both of you lots!!!

  25. First of all Heidi, you’re a huge role model for me! I love the show, your family, and everything! I was wondering what brand of protein I should buy. Unfortunately I can’t afford your Vemma protein, so I was wondering what you might recommend to a poor college student trying to survive the cafeteria. πŸ™‚ thanks!!

    Kelsey Downey

    1. When it comes to convenience, whey protein, which is derived from milk, is at the top of the protein list. Choose a protein powder that’s very low in fat, has less than 5 grams of carbs, and approximately 15-20 grams of protein per serving. πŸ™‚

    2. Hi Kelsey, were you able to find a quality protein for less than what our amazing life coaches use? I’m not in college – but need a less expensive version.

  26. I have cheat days everyday… I eat cereal most mornings then a nice salad with some sort of protien and then snack is like an apple and almonds… Dinner is whatever we make… Then I love cookies and dark chocolate…. Couple pcs of chocolate or two cookies (most of the time) is perfect for me πŸ™‚ but I can’t seem to move from the scale really… In he’s go down but number stays the same

  27. I am always trying to eat well…..I am eating out tonight, but the plan is, to have grilled chicken and a salad tonight!!!! as for my exercise for the day, i have been doing stuff on and off all day, and going for a big swim tonight!!!

  28. So first of all I love you!! You are such an inspiration. I am at the gym 5-6 days a week…. Yes, that’s the truth I’m not trying to fudge it to make you think I’m awesome! Haha. But I am always doing cardio and abs…. Either spin, or elliptical… :/ I would love to be as cut and tones as you… But clearly what I’m doing isn’t working…my food intake is actually pretty good. And I’m buying Chris’s book this week to start carb cycling. I enjoy cross fit but It seems that I bulk from crossfit…. How do I find a balance of toning and not bulking?? I tend to bulk easily.
    Please help this “cardio queen” I know it’s not the best but I’m lost with what else to do???

    Thank you!!!

    1. Try using lighter weights and adding more reps. And sometimes you can simply blame genetics if you’re getting too bulky. πŸ˜‰

  29. hi Sweets! Just curious…I was sure at some point that you and Chris mentioned that you do carb cycling? Is this correct? Does this, or actually how does this “morning hug” fit into your low carb days? Looks delicious btw ;). Thank you, have a beautiful day xo

    1. Yes, Chris and Heidi do carb cycle. Every breakfast in carb cycling is a high carb meal, so Heidi’s morning bun is her carb for that meal. πŸ™‚

  30. My issue is, my family is prone to be obese. I’m 39 5’7 140lbs I’m not over weight but I’m a “fat/skinny” with two teens which don’t keep me as active as when they were little. I’ve joined goodlife last March cause i seen my arms and legs and butt looking like my family. Which I didn’t like at all. I also work 4-5 a day 5th days a week I build Windows so which means a lot of lifting and walking in a day, at first I was going to the gym 4-5 days a week doing bodypump. Than coming home feeding the kiddos and then their sports. Which i enjoy but in the summer I got tired. I seen some results but nothing extreme. I’m off for the winter and now I’m working at the gym like 3 hours a day past few weeks. Im determined. I want that firm strong body. I’m confused on how to get it. I don’t know if I have to be at the gym 8 hour a day? 7 days a week…my only weakness is my coffee I need it. I cut out all soda about year and half ago. I’m not a pill or vitamin kinda person I hate putting things in my body that I know i will have to rely on for the rest of my life…when it comes to protein shakes it concerns me. Will i need that forever to stay toned when that happens? How do I get on track to have a perfect body? Please help!

    1. It sounds like you’ve already got some great tools in place to help you reach your goals. If you’re interested, you might find some additional tools in Chris and Heidi’s carb cycling program in their book, “Choose More, Lose More for Life.” The book contains their complete nutrition and exercise program, and it’s the same one they use on the show. It will teach you everything you need to know and do to achieve your own transformation! Learn all about it here: https://heidipowell.net/9060/how-to-begin-your-transformation-journey-step-by-step/. You can do this! πŸ™‚

  31. I cheat everyday too. I eat healthy most of the day, lots of greens, veggies, protein, etc. Buuut my favorite snack is ice cream, so I get two small scoops I’m a small bowl (makes it seem like more). It’s a reward to myself for giving my body the nutrients it needs and my exercising. Honestly it makes me workout harder knowing I have that reward to look forward to.

  32. Heidi- I hope you and Chris know how much people love you because you are honest, real people. Thank you for sharing- this is exactly how I feel about eating!! I have to have chocolate every day, so a little bite size one does the trick. Thanks for being genuine. My husband, and I love you guys!

  33. Friday is my splurge day, I work out everyday except Friday and I let myself have a reward meal usually for dinner. I don’t go crazy, but I will go out with friends and let myself indulge more then I do on other days. Sometimes I will even have some frozen yogurt or something like that.

  34. I go off IIFYM! “If it fits your macros” which I am sure you have heard of. It’s awesome and literally allows me to eat anything I want as long as it fits my macros! I am actually trying to gain weight/muscle so I am allowed to eat a ton of carbs and a good amount of fat. I do eat clean most of the day and usually allow my cheat meals at night…however I am 24 so it doesn’t affect me eating “bad food” at night!

    1. I have not heard of this. The only macros I know about are to do with computers! I suppose I could Google it, but can you explain and/or direct me to a website that explains it?


  35. Hey Heidi! I have loved watching you on Extreme Makeover and I enjoy reading/watching you clips on your blog! I find everything very helpful and encouraging!! I have a question about total calories I should eat every day. I run 4 times a week with an average of 15 miles per week right now (off training) and I do three strength workouts a weeks that are usually 30 minutes long and not high intensity. I rest on Saturday to recover. I am 33 years old and weigh about 157 pounds right now. I want to become stronger and be able to run faster half marathons and lose about 5 pounds. I have a hard time knowing how many calories I should be eating and I haven’t lost weight. Any advise?


    1. HI Tennille: Check out Chris and Heidi’s carb cycling program in their book, “Choose More, Lose More for Life.” The book contains their complete nutrition and exercise program, and it’s the same one they use on the show. It will teach you everything you need to know and do (including how many calories to eat each day) to achieve your health and fitness goals! And it can work no matter how many pounds you’d like to lose. Learn all about it here: https://heidipowell.net/9060/how-to-begin-your-transformation-journey-step-by-step/. πŸ™‚

  36. Hi Heidi! First off- I absolutely love you and Chris! Now that that is out of the way, I have a question about carb cycling. I have read Chris’ carb cycling 101, but I cannot grasp the concept. I don’t know enough about food to know what to eat. Is there anything that wasn’t touched on that you could tell me? I want to try it, but I just dont get it. :\

    1. Here’s another post that might help (pay special attention to the graphic): https://heidipowell.net/4514/carb-confusion/. And you can get an approved foods list at http://www.chrispowell.com. Enter your email address in the “Join the Transformation” section, and when you hit “Join,” the next page will have the link to download the list. You can get an even more extensive list, as well as their complete carb cycling program in their book, “Choose More, Lose More for Life.” Check it out!

  37. Hi Heidi,
    First of all you and Chris have been a true inspiration to me. I been all my life struggling with my weight but finally accepted that I will always have more proportion than others. However I have been doing kickboxing for about a year 2-3 times a week and include some spinning and jogging on the other days. I am planning on becoming a nutritionist and I am in my last 1 1/2 years of studying Biology. I also work 25 hours a week as a nanny and planning to create my own buisness. I love to cook and eat healthy and like you said it’s a pleasure for me as well. But how can I have a good workout routine and be able to prep a good week of eating and not falling off the plan?
    Also do you have any advise on natural organic and plant based protein powders? When to take and so on.
    Btw. I am 5.3 and weigh 166lbs I am trying to lose 20-25 lbs.

    1. You can find lots of awesome tips on meal planning, recipes, workout routines, etc., in Chris and Heidi’s book, “Choose More, Lose More for Life.” Learn about the nutrition basics here: https://heidipowell.net/2713/carb-cycling-101/. As far as protein powders, Chris and Heidi love their Vemma Powell Perfect Protein Powder. You can learn more about this product by contacting Bob Brenner (one of our amazing season 3 transformations) at [email protected]. He’ll be happy to help you! For protein powders in general, they recommend whey protein, with less than 5 grams of carbs and between 15-20 grams of protein/serving. Hope that helps! And good luck in school and with your busy life! πŸ™‚

  38. Love your blog! Its helping me so much since I’ve changed my way of eating and have been working out every day. What a change my body has gone through, physically and I’m loving it so much. My question I have for you is what kind of protein do you use for your morning drinks? I have celiac disease so it has to be gluten free so if yours isn’t could you recommend one that is? Thanks so much!

  39. I currently don’t have a reward “plan”, but I LOVE this concept and the fact you do so early in the day — thanks for the great tip, I’m always so inspired when I read your blog and/or watch EWL. Keep up the great work!


  40. You two are the best! When I head to Starbucks I always get a Venti Iced Coffee (black, unsweetened) but today I switched it up and added the one pump of mocha you suggest! What an awesome Friday treat in between lifting and spin class πŸ™‚ Thank you for being so real! XOX

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