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Thinking outside of the (take-away) box

So there I was, loaded on the hammy curl machine, trying desperately hard to push through yet another set without screaming. Next to me was a woman on the ‘yes/no’ machine with her trainer, yakking about her diet. I couldn’t help but eavesdrop. Side note: I spend most of my time at gym incognito so my ears have become very flappy and I hear some pretty funky diet talk. “I’m only going to look like Jessica Alba if I have food rules; I need RULES! GIVE ME RULES!!!!!” she cried.

Chillax lady (I thought, while I edged nervously away). This person must have loved school! She was one of the little sausages turned out by our production line school system – perfectly formed but not so good at thinking outside of the box. Boy did she need a box to think out of. We all do if we want to find out what works for us as individuals in every aspect of our lives, Alba-wannabees included.

Vroom, vroom

You want to know what I think? Pretend your body’s a car. It needs petrol, oil and water if it’s going to serve you for a decent period of time. So – most of the time – when it comes to your diet, you should be eating to look after your ‘car’ (i.e. eat obvious health-enhancing foods).

But, you’re human so you also have an emotional ‘body’ that needs different fuel. Ahem, such as the Tequila slammers on a Friday night with mates. A burger and beer after a hard day on the beach. A bag of crisps and a bottle of wine in front of a movie. Whatever floats your boat, peeps. It’s those foods/drinks that give you instant bliss and a feeling of deep satisfaction in the moment. We know they’re not great for fuelling the car but hell, they make you feel good!

Most of the time vs some of the time

I reckon what you do most of the time counts, so make this about looking after the car. What you do some of the time won’t be a problem and gives you the flexibility to live your life in the moment. There’s nothing worse than not being able to scoff a Savages cheesecake or a Vovo croissant because you’re on a(nother) diet and aren’t ‘allowed’ to.

No cheating!

So, pace your ‘sometimes’ foods between your ‘most-times’ foods and tell me you won’t see the world through rose-coloured lenses! Oh, and please don’t ever save your ‘cheat’ meals for the weekend. Repeat after me: THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS CHEATING. ONLY EATING!

Don’t label your behaviour – don’t be ‘good’ during the week and ‘bad’ on the weekend. Mix it up and call it flexinutrition. Have fun with it. Eat a little ‘crap’; eat a lot of ‘car’ foods and you’re bound to be a happier person for it.

Tanya Wyatt, Happy Valley pond

Tanya Wyatt

Tanya has written regularly for various health and fitness magazines such as Men’s Health, Marie-Claire, Cosmopolitan and Shape (she also served on the advisory board for Shape), as well as for local South Africa newspaper publications. In 2004, Tanya wrote two internationally released health and fitness-related books, both  published by New Holland. She recently wrote her third book, currently submitted to publishers for consideration.

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2021 Tanya Wyatt / The Happy Body