The photo above is a screenshot of the Google image search I did for "treat." I'm amused that (1) all are edible and (2) a couple pictures show dogs' treats and the rest are human desserts. When I had the idea for this post, I wasn't thinking only about food, but the message works nonetheless.
I need to explain what I mean by the key terms in my title. Treating is enjoying something special, something we can't or shouldn't do too frequently because it's expensive in time, money, calories, or something else. In contrast, cheating is something that bad in any amount because it takes something away from someone else or hurts us in some way.
Though the example I'm about to give comes from thinking about food, I hope you'll keep reading long enough to discover the bigger idea. I used to try to limit my intake of sweets by allowing myself to consume foods with added sugars only at certain times. I called the days with sweets "cheat days." Since the parameters I created included no-sugar days and yes-sugar days, I wasn't cheating in any way. In fact, I'd argue that the free-choice days helped me eat less sugar overall because I didn't feel as if I had to be all-out forever. Looking back, I should have called them "treat days" and allowed myself to appreciate special desserts and candy as both a celebration of my success in limiting myself on the other days and the deliciousness they were. The name I gave them took away some of my enjoyment.
As you know, I'm a big fan of taking baby steps in the direction I hope to go until I get where I want to be. If we don't take time to celebrate our victories and milestones along the journey, we can lose sight of them in a much larger sea of goals on an endless path to an unknown destination. I am overwhelmed just thinking about life that way. Without noting the gains, we might lose hope for progress and lose sight of the big-picture. With reasonable and periodic treats, we can enjoy moving in the right direction overall. As Jess Sims says, celebrate everything and get your butt back to work.
I adore candy, so I say this with love in my heart for all things sugary (except chocolate), these days, I try to divorce my treats from my diet. There are so many other treats that don't overwork my pancreas. Here are some I like as substitutions for sugar:
- taking time to read a joyful book
- walking outside
- watching an episode of something that makes me laugh
- playing a round of Wordle or Wordscapes
- calling an old friend
You can probably think of tons of other activities that treat you, and I hope you take the time when you're busiest to indulge in doing one of them. That way, you refill your energy banks and can get back to the usually unrewarded steps on the path to what's going to make you truly proud of your accomplishments.
Can you share any great treat ideas or suggestions in the comments?