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The Cheat System Diet: Eat the Foods You Crave and Lose Weight Even Faster: Cheat to Lose 12 LBS in 3 Weeks

The Cheat System Diet: Eat the Foods You Crave and Lose Weight Even Faster: Cheat to Lose 12 LBS in 3 Weeks

4.1 6
by Jackie Wicks

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Do you know a great deal about losing weight and staying fit, but are having a hard time following through? Do you feel like you are doing everything right, but not losing the weight you want? The Cheat System Diet works because it acknowledges that a certain amount of "cheating" when you eat is normal, and gives you a plan do to this the RIGHT way.

The Cheat


Do you know a great deal about losing weight and staying fit, but are having a hard time following through? Do you feel like you are doing everything right, but not losing the weight you want? The Cheat System Diet works because it acknowledges that a certain amount of "cheating" when you eat is normal, and gives you a plan do to this the RIGHT way.

The Cheat System Diet helps you feel better quickly, because it removes the stress and the guilt around traditional diet and exercise.

For nearly a decade, PEERtrainer -- a wildly successful online "weight-loss lab" -- has provided its members with the best information on how to be successful at losing weight. Now The Cheat System Diet, tested and proven by hundreds of thousands of PEERtrainer members, brings this expertise to you.

The Cheat System Diet is based on a simple list that divides foods into two categories: Cheats and Eats. Cheats are the foods we all crave (cookie, anyone?) and Eats are nutrient-dense foods. You can eat as many Eats as you like. And you start with a certain number of Cheats every day, then earn more by making especially healthy choices, like having a big salad before dinner.

With The Cheat System Diet, PEERtrainer founder Jackie Wicks takes all the information you know about dieting and gives you a proven framework to make eating work for you. Follow Jackie's smart three-week program and you'll find:

*Nothing is restricted -- eat any food you like.

*Eats are unlimited -- eat as many Eats as you want.
*Exercise is reasonable - no more spending hours every day at the gym.

*No need to count calories, fat, fiber, or sugar -- just focus on eating your Eats!

With three weeks of comprehensive meal plans, an easy-to-follow exercise schedule, and more than 100 delicious recipes, The Cheat System Diet will revolutionize your approach to food and shrink your waistline at the same time. This supportive, easy-to-follow program allows you to eat well and lose weight, while still enjoying your favority guilty pleasures.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Wicks, founder of successful online weight-loss network PEERtrainer.com, offers a method for moderate dietary “cheating”—eating enough of what’s good for you and indulging in only a little of what’s not. This is a diet for those who know what to eat, but aren’t doing so due to a lack of motivation or support. Wicks promises weight-loss success with the Cheat System’s “Three Essential Pillars”: high nutrient eating, limited cheats through small portions of unhealthy treats, and associated reduction in cortisol levels and inflammation. The cheat system provides lower overall caloric intake, reduced hunger and cravings, and increased fullness at every meal, but it works only if a dieter chooses foods from the PEERtrainer list of “Eats and Cheats” which is presented after random nutritional advice about good and bad fats, traditional and alternative protein, and other topics, plus a stress-busting exercise plan. The three-week, three-meal-a-day plan includes over 160 recipes and emphasizes the importance of tracking one’s food intake. Her strategy isn’t new, but readers may appreciate the huge online network of members who share tips, hints, and frustrations. Were Wicks’s book less scattered and repetitive, it might be as user-friendly as her website. Agent: Celeste Fine,Sterling Lord Literistic. (May)
From the Publisher

The Cheat System Diet perfectly melds what works for weight loss with what works for people. The result is a fabulous diet that won't just help you lose weight, but that you'll actually want to stick to!” —JJ Virgin, author of the New York Times bestselling The Virgin Diet

“In this breakthrough book, Jackie Wicks reveals a food plan that won't perpetuate the tiresome diet - stress - fail pattern. The Cheat System Diet gives you the template to lose weight without sending your hormones in a disastrous death spiral.” —Sara Gottfried, MD, New York Times bestselling author of The Hormone Cure

The Cheat System Diet is a refreshing new approach to eating and losing weight, that enables people to eat a diet which places more emphasis on foods that promote better brain health, and still letting people enjoy foods they love.” —John Gray, New York Times bestselling author of Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus

The Cheat System Diet is brilliant! Jackie Wicks understands how the brain works, and how habits are developed in the real world. This book clarifies why portion control is so hard, and makes it crystal clear why her "eat" foods will extinguish hunger. This breakthrough plan is realistic, loaded with practical information, and will add years of health to your life.” —Steven Masley, MD, FAHA, FACN, FAAFP, author of The 30-Day Heart Tune-Up, Assistant Professor University South Florida

The Cheat System Diet is a fantastic book for many reasons. Firstly, it works in a real way with how human psychology works...everyone is looking for a way out...and this book gives it to you...step by step. I love also that it relates closely to how the brain likes to function...without crazy effort and with significant short-term gains. And most of all, it is really congruent with how the author lives her life. For anyone who loves food but wants to lose weight without their brain objecting," The Cheat System Diet" is for you." I am certain that you will not only NOT be disappointed, but that you will also be ecstatic with what you are allowed to eat while still losing weight.” —Srini Pillay, MD

“Most strict diets are illusions, knowledge of which keeps us away from them. One quickly gains back the weight lost on such diets because the lifestyle and eating habits we have formed over the years are so deeply etched into our reptilian lower brain that automatically drives nearly everything we do. In essence, our upper brain or hypothalamus intellectually welcomes such strict diets and writes checks that our lower brain cannot cash in so easily. By being a bit easy on ourselves and cheating a little here and there The Cheat System Diet will increase our chance of changing our eating habits.” —Fred Nazem, Entrepreneur, Venture Capitalist and Philanthropist and Former Chairman of Oxford Health Plans

“More important than finding the 'right' answer, is finding a 'manageable' diet that allows you to choose foods you love -- eat them frequently -- and without a whole lot of self-control. Jackie helps hundreds of thousands of people successfully lose weight as her full-time career, and that she has compiled these results into a simple-to-follow and easy-to-integrate diet that doesn't require you throw out a single food in your kitchen. Instead, enjoy food!” —Dr. Kareem Samhouri, CSCS, HFS

Product Details

St. Martin's Press
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.60(w) x 8.40(h) x 1.40(d)

Read an Excerpt


How Cheating Will Help You Finally Succeed

Why You’re Doing Everything “Right” but Nothing Is Working

Accept what is. Let go of what was. Have faith in what will be.


If you’re like most people, you’ve read all the books, you know what you should be eating and doing, and you have a great deal of knowledge about diet and fitness, but you have a tough time following through. The diet and fitness world “helps” by giving us contradictory solutions, ridiculous gimmicks, and impossible standards—all of which are completely frustrating, counterproductive, and unsuccessful. What I hear from PEERtrainer members all the time is that they’ve tried a bunch of different diets but nothing works—or nothing works for long. Succeeding at weight loss involves a lot of factors, both physiological and psychological. If a diet doesn’t take into consideration both—and most do not—that diet has set you up to fail. Period.

The Cheat System Diet helps you tackle all that has stopped you from losing weight in the past, and will help you at every level—food and exercise, your body and your brain—so you will succeed. We’ve done it with our PEERtrainer members and I’ve done it for myself.

Welcome to what works.


There are a million fads out there: go clean, do Paleo, go vegan, go gluten-free, go whole foods, do whatever your best friend’s sister is doing or what you see Jennifer Aniston talking about in a magazine—but then you don’t have time to shop and cook and produce the latest braised fennel, blah blah blah …

Or you hear about a certain kind of yoga that Giada De Laurentiis does, and you think, “Maybe that’s it!” But you are so stressed out about getting to that magical yoga class that it doesn’t even seem worth it to you anymore.

Exercise programs that gain massive popularity in a flash like P90X or CrossFit are basically the same as trendy diets like Paleo: supposed magic-bullet solutions that in reality don’t work for most of us. Could you succeed in the short term using them? Sure, but these programs are tough and restrictive, which most people can’t maintain over the long term.

This is why so many people quit these fad diets and exercise programs over and over again. I did, too. I quit when it gets too rough on the treadmill. I quit sometimes when I’m just sick of eating healthy food and really want a slice of pizza. I’m sure you’ve done the same.

There is a biological reason we quit, why we give up when something we’re trying to do becomes too hard. It’s called homeostasis, and it applies to both your body and your mind. Your body wants to be in balance, and when it knows it’s not—say, because you’re killing yourself doing two CrossFit workouts a day, or spending the day at your desk starving on a calorie-restriction diet—it will do whatever it can to get back into homeostasis, the place it feels balanced.

“One of those days where I wake up and go, ‘It would be so cool to be a vegan. Gonna start today!’ Then I fry bacon.”

—Tyra Banks

Because of that, I would argue that quitting is not always a bad thing. It means you have taken on too much, and your whole mind and body is shouting, “This is not going to work.” And your body and mind are right.

Designed for people who have quit before, the Cheat System promotes homeostasis. It makes your body happy, and it’s doable. The trick is to keep your body in homeostasis. If it isn’t in biological balance, your body and your mind rebel.

“The Cheat System is better than strict Paleo, where I could not eat beans or sweet potatoes.”

—Jessica, Gahanna, Ohio

When we make a drastic change, it’s hard for our body and mind to stay with that change, so most of the time it wants to overcompensate for what’s missing. This is the reason why when you think, “Okay, today I’m giving up chocolate completely,” all you can think about is having ten large chocolate bars. You might not have even thought about chocolate if you didn’t declare such a drastic change. The Cheat System helps you make gradual, subtle changes so your body doesn’t rebel. It makes small, good “deals” with your mind, so your body can get used to a new homeostasis. The Cheat System presents a new way of shedding pounds; your body says I can deal with this and you actually follow through.

I’m solely focused on what works. As I’ve mentioned, I’ve been obsessed—for eight years—with one question: What will you actually do? What will you follow through on? And the answer is the Cheat System. I wanted my plan to work whether you are an eighty-hour-workweek investment banker or a full-time wife and mother.

Just This Once …

The problem with restrictive diets is that it’s really easy to fall off the wagon. And the second most people go the slightest bit off track, they use it as an excuse to go crazy for the rest of the day or even the rest of the week. You wake up on Monday morning and you want a fresh start … but then someone brings donuts to the office, or your car tire is flat, or your daughter forgot a permission slip. So you think, “Just this one morning I’m going to go to Starbucks and get my usual low-fat latte and an apple fritter, one last time.” But by doing that, you set yourself up for a terrible lunch and dinner. You go out for Chinese with your coworkers for lunch and by dinner you figure it doesn’t really matter, so Monday is a total loss. So then you decide, “I’m going to start Tuesday.” And then Tuesday might go okay, but when you weigh yourself on Wednesday it still isn’t be better and you’ve been doing this all week and you decide that it doesn’t matter what you do. And you give up once again.

You’re probably very successful at other areas of your life. Why has weight loss been such a struggle? Here’s why: in other areas of your life, you probably don’t set unrealistic goals. In other areas of your life, when surprises happen that you don’t expect, you probably roll with it, or at least handle it as best you can. When you slip up or do something wrong, you might chastise yourself for a moment and then let it go. When life happens, you don’t beat yourself up.

But when it comes to dieting … you do all of those things. You set unrealistic goals of sticking to a restrictive diet. When a surprise is tossed your way—like donuts in the office—you freak out. When you eat a donut and slip up, you beat yourself up and decide that all your previous effort was a waste. This thought process is one of the biggest reasons other diets have failed you.

The fact is, diets stress people out. Workouts stress people out. Life stresses people out. And all of those things are keeping you from losing the weight. We did the science, we did the research, we did the trial and error with our members on PEERtrainer. And what we’ve found, overwhelmingly, is that the pounds come off when the plan is easy, when it’s doable, and when it doesn’t stress out the body.

So many things go into your body being healthy, and what most people don’t understand that is the stress it takes to get to the grocery store to shop for a restrictive diet (much less to eat on it) and to work out for hours a day counteracts all the work you are doing because the stress biologically gets in the way of your weight loss!

Stress Belly

Have you ever experienced a day when you were ravenous all day? You get up hungry, eat your “normal” breakfast, and feel like in order to be full, you literally need to eat three more. Perhaps you’ve eaten two eggs, spinach, and fruit, but you could eat another two plates of food and you’re wanting a donut or something more than usual?

That’s cortisol, and it may be one of the reasons you haven’t been able to lose the weight. A snacky, can’t-get-full feeling is almost always cortisol out of balance. It’s obvious why this is bad: if you’re never full, then you’re always eating, and that will definitely not help you lose weight. I have those days, and before I knew what they were all about, I was beyond frustrated.

A huge part of why you haven’t been able to lose the weight is because of a cortisol imbalance, a hormone activated when you are stressed (which for most of us is pretty constant). If you have a belly, that’s cortisol. If you feel like screaming because you’re always frustrated, that’s cortisol. If you can’t concentrate on healthy food or finding a way to exercise because you feel like you’re being pulled from all sides, that’s cortisol. A lot of people write off being stressed all the time as something that’s just part of life or getting older or having kids—but it’s not. Constant stress is often the result of a cortisol imbalance, and a cortisol imbalance can cause constant stress.

Cortisol can have an effect on your testosterone and estrogen levels, as well as on your entire body chemistry. If your cortisol is out of balance, it can have a domino effect on the rest of your hormones. Unfortunately, cortisol can be the catalyst for thyroid, estrogen, and an entire host of other hormonal issues.

I learned a lot about cortisol from Dr. Sara Gottfried, a Harvard-trained physician and bestselling author of The Hormone Cure. When cortisol is at high levels, it increases insulin resistance, which causes your body to store fat. Unfortunately for us, cortisol is also released when you feel psychologically stressed—like when you have to turn down a happy hour invitation because you’ve decided to start a new diet, for example.

Cortisol is natural and can be good for our body in many ways, but it is also a major factor to why people can’t lose weight (and also why some of us carry more fat in our belly than anywhere else). If you feel like you’re doing everything right but you’re not losing weight, that’s an indication that your cortisol is out of balance.

High levels of cortisol makes you look older, it’s what’s keeping the fat on your belly, and it’s keeping you from being able to do what you used to be able to do when you felt like you had it together. It’s keeping you from making the healthy decisions you need to make in order to lose weight.

When I discovered that cortisol was a huge factor in weight, I felt like I had uncovered a huge secret. I knew from my own experience that stress was a big presence in my life—not only did I feel stressed out by my life in general but also by just choosing to be on a diet!

So how do you know if your cortisol is out of balance? You can get a saliva test at your physician’s office, and I highly encourage to you to do this. But we all know how much time and effort it can take just to schedule an appointment. So I have something easy for you to do right now. I want you to ask yourself a question—and really answer honestly.

Do you ever feel like you can’t deal? Like you’re so overwhelmed that anything you have to do makes you think, “How am I going to get this done?”

If you identified with this statement, you’re not alone. As Dr. Sara has said in her book, many of us have issues with cortisol, and “All roads lead back to cortisol.” So if you’re stressed, overly emotional, or feel like your life is spiraling out of control, pay very close attention to your cortisol.

So what can you do about it? Often when I tell people about the effect cortisol has on their body and their weight, I often get a response like, “I’ll deal with my cortisol when I have a minute, thanks!” And I get that—you are busy, life is full, and cortisol is an invisible problem that isn’t calling for your attention, dinner, or a clean soccer uniform right now.

But cortisol is probably one of the major reasons diet hasn’t worked for you in the past. Since a cortisol imbalance is responsible for a lot of that extra weight, we designed the Cheat System so it reduced cortisol at every level: in the food you eat, when you work out, when and how often you feel stressed. (You could have low cortisol issues as well, and cortisol levels are different depending on the time of day. The only way to be certain is to go to your phyisican, but for many of us, we have high cortisol at the wrong times and this keeps the weight on.)

This is one of the major ways the Cheat System is different from any other diet you’ve tried: it takes care of balancing your cortisol levels and the other things that are holding you back without you having to even think about it.

If you’re on the Cheat System, the diet and exercise plan will stabilize your cortisol and reverse its effects on your body, mind, and your feeling of crazy stress—all at once.

It’s Not About the Discipline

You might think the reason you haven’t succeeded thus far is because you don’t have willpower or the discipline to “do” a diet. But that’s not true. For instance, let’s say you are on a portion-control diet. Your family orders a pizza for dinner and you promise yourself you’ll just eat one slice, but you end up eating three.

Most people blame not being able to control their portions on a lack of discipline, but that’s not really true. The reason you can’t resist that third piece of pizza is physiological. It has nothing to do with your mental discipline and everything to do with biology (more on that later). It’s confusing because the majority of us have plenty of discipline elsewhere in our lives: we go to work on time, we keep to a household financial budget, we play by rules set before us. But we don’t remember any of that discipline when we slip up on our diets. We are too busy blaming ourselves. We just end up thinking, “I want to lose weight so badly, what’s wrong with me that I can’t resist this slice of pizza?”

And that’s a faulty question, because your willpower or discipline has very little to do with the fact that you ate the extra two slices of pizza—that was a physiological response to hunger. Your body needs micronutrients for fuel. It’s really that simple. Pizza has an extremely low micronutrient profile. You’re eating the pizza and your body is screaming out, saying, “Where are my micronutrients? I need selenium. I need manganese!” (Just to name a few.) So your body’s response is, “If I eat more, I’ll get my micronutrients,” which leads you to continue to eat and eat while your body is actually starving for the type of fuel it needs to go.

But here’s the worst part: you eat and eat and think, “Where is my discipline? I want to lose weight so badly but I just can’t do it. Here I go again.” But your brain translates “Where is my discipline?” and “I want to lose weight so badly” into “What’s wrong with me?”

And your brain responds: “You’re right. What is wrong with you?” Our brains are primed to solve problems, not to understand the nuance and context of every situation. So when it hears a question, it doesn’t necessarily fill in the appropriate response (because your body was still hungry for micronutrients). Instead, it tries to “fix” what went wrong in the situation. But because your brain can’t turn back time and stop you from eating the extra slices of pizza, it tries to “teach” you. It makes you feel guilty because it thinks that will make you stronger next time. (Which it won’t, but as we discussed before, the brain is just doing what it thinks will solve the problem.)

Worse yet, as you continue asking your brain the question “What is wrong with me?” a psychological “stack” of problems begins to build up in your emotions. We start to stack all of our negative thoughts together. As psychologist Martin Seligman describes in his book Learned Optimism, the question “What’s wrong with you that you ate three slices of pizza” turns into “What’s wrong with you that you can’t lose weight?” which then turns into ‘What’s wrong with you that you aren’t as thin and stylish and perfect as the other moms at her school?” which turns into “What’s wrong with you for not having the money to send your daughter to the horseback riding lessons all her friends are going to?” which turns into “What’s wrong with you for not having a better job?”

When we’re in a negative stacking mind-set, it’s hard to see ourselves as anything other than our failures. We don’t see a mom who cares about her daughter. We see a mom who can’t lose weight, who can’t afford the riding lessons, who doesn’t look perfect, who doesn’t have a great job, who is a failure at weight loss, at life in general. And for those of us who are struggling with our weight that mind-set leads to thoughts like: I am a fat person. I am a loser. I am incapable of losing weight.

STOP IT! Stop that thinking right now. You can lose weight and you will lose the weight. The Cheat System will show you how, and why all the discipline in the world couldn’t have helped you.

Nice or Necessary?

Have you ever heard the story of the frog in warm water? If you put a frog in boiling water, he’ll jump out. Instead, if you warm the water slowly, he will slowly die. You’ve got to create the “boiling” water in your life. You’ve got to create leverage. You’ve got to create your “must.” Most of us say, “I want to lose twenty pounds,” but it doesn’t really happen until we get focused and have the leverage like an event where we feel like we must do it. A high school reunion is a great example. Many of us gain the leverage to lose weight when we know we’re going to see peers from twenty years ago. The pain of not showing everyone what we could have been is greater than the pain of limiting Cheats and focusing on the Eats. So we do it. This is also why a diagnosis or a poor visit at the doctor’s office can be so powerful. You finally have leverage to change your habits.

So where do you get the must from? As you saw above, it usually comes from having a great need or the thought of extreme pain if you don’t do something. The pain of facing people from high school at your current weight or looking fat in the pictures on Facebook would have been greater than anything else happening before that weekend. Actors have their must. They’re always thin; they won’t get paid if they are not. And pain—seeing a picture of yourself, hiding from social interaction—is sometimes what pushes people to lose weight. Another powerful must is being faced with a potentially fatal disease like diabetes.

I’ve heard a lot of desperation and frustration from our members at PEERtrainer. And I’ve also seen how much creating and deciding upon your must can change your mind-set. Define your need to lose the weight. Define your why—why you want to lose the weight. Manufacture your must and change the game—putting you solidly on the path to success. You have nothing to lose but the weight that’s been holding you back.


My mom once told me that relationships should have ease and a flow; they should not be painful. If you have a miserable time at dinner with an old friend and you’re miserable most of the time you get together, you should question that relationship. If you have to beg for your boyfriend to spend time with you, it’s probably not working. I’ve found that my mom’s advice applies to diets, too.

When I’m eating and working out the Cheat System way, I know I’m going to lose weight. I’m confident of the end result. We will help you get confident, too. Losing weight on Cheat System will be so much easier than your path has been up to this point.

I suspect that having read the above, you are thinking, “You think weight loss is easy? You so don’t know me or my life or what I’m going through!” But bear with me. When you obsess about something—whether it’s about finding The One or worrying how your child is going to do at a sports tryout—you get in the way of the ease and flow that needs to happen in order for you to be successful. The best advice I’ve ever heard about dating is that when you want to fall in love, you shouldn’t obsess over every phone call. You should make yourself busy, have your own interests, and then love will walk through the door. The same applies to children: when you care about your kids but don’t obsess over how every little thing in life is going to affect them, your children learn to stand on their own.

The same applies to weight loss. Your obsession with weight loss is what’s keeping you fat. I believe this with every fiber of my being.

“I really like the Cheat System because it provides me an easy way to be accountable without being obsessive. It focuses on adding healthy foods that are beneficial to most people, yet gives you flexibility to make it your own.”

—Eileen, South Dakota

It is the ease and the flow that allows the right date to become a permanent relationship and allows parenting to transform a child into a functional adult. You’re going to use the same principles with the Cheat System. It will give you ease and flow so you are not obsessed and beating yourself up the next time a brownie is calling your name. The Cheat System is about fitting into your life and getting rid of obsessiveness about losing weight.

Now you might be thinking, “Oh, she’s just telling me to be positive, be positive, be positive.” I’m not saying you should ignore the difficulty and just pretend everything is okay. Your frustrations are real and they are sabotaging you every day. It’s about acknowledging them and moving on. Anthony Robbins uses this analogy often in his talks: “I’m not telling you to look out in the garden and say there are no weeds. I’m telling you to look out in the garden, see the weeds, and not say, ‘Oh no, why are there weeds, why is this happening to me?’ Instead, you’ll go pull the weeds out and move on.” That is what this book, and the Cheat System, will help you do.

We’re going to pull out your weeds. And the first one I want to tug on is the belief that you have to do crazy things to lose weight. People have the idea that in order to lose weight, you have to eat lettuce and salads all day long, or foods you don’t like, and oh, on top of that you have to work out thirty minutes to an hour every day, drink eight glasses of water, walk for four miles in the right shoes, and oh, P.S., your workout clothes have to be clean, you have to find a babysitter because you can’t bring your kids, you need to spend the money for the gym and the right workout clothes or a trainer.…

When we think like this—and most of us do—we create what Dr. Pillay calls “brain chaos.” Brain chaos is when there are so many signals and circuits lighting up in the brain that it can’t make a decision. When the brain is experiencing chaos, we either do nothing about the situation or stress out by trying to do everything. When we encounter brain chaos as related to dieting, we either give up completely—“what’s the use?”—or try to incorporate everything we’ve ever heard, which also results in quitting.

It’s insanity to expect success when you are trying to do everything at once or when you give up completely. Neither is a clear path to your goal. However, when you ask your brain to do things that are easy for it to handle, you avoid brain chaos. We’ve created the Cheat System to do just that. It presents a set of rules that your brain can deal with, and doesn’t ask you to do everything all at once.

What Do You, Personally, Need to Lose Weight?

Your answer to this question might be: I have to have a babysitter. Or, I need a completely different way route from work, because the commute is long and I don’t feel like eating healthy when I get home. Whatever your need is, it’s real and it’s valid. You are smart, you are ambitious, you know what you want—and in order to succeed, we need to harness those talents and to figure out how to make these obstacles to not losing weight disappear (or at least, get out of your way).

If you can identify your “if only” statement(s) for not losing weight—“if only I had money for a personal chef,” or “if only I had money for a personal trainer,” or “if only I wasn’t so busy I could get to the grocery store to get healthy food”—you’ll start to see something very interesting. We all have if only thoughts, and the secret is, once you take care of one if only, a new one pops up.

The thing about if only is this: we believe that it’s our “magic bullet” to losing weight. We believe it is the one thing holding us back from success. We all have if only reasons, but the reality is that to lose weight, dealing with where you are right now is the magic bullet. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have wants and desires—you should, and I expect you to—but getting out of your own way (and making your if only reason disappear) starts with accepting and tackling the right now.

The first step to fulfilling your dream is accepting, right now, what your situation is. Right now, I don’t have more money, I don’t have a personal chef, I don’t have a babysitter. But given all of that, what can you do or change or try right now?

My if only was “If only my commute hadn’t changed and I could go straight to the gym after work, then I would lose weight.” And then my commute did change so I could go to the gym after work, but I still didn’t go! I had to accept that just wishing something was going to change wasn’t getting me anywhere. Once I accepted this, I was able to make real change and started walking to work, because it was something I could actually do.

Because You Can Lose Weight. And You Will.

Get ready for a sentence that will change your life. If you’re reading this in public place, go to a bathroom or your car because I want you to say this life-changing miracle of a sentence with me. Say this out loud.

I am so frustrated with trying to lose weight. I’m so x%$@* frustrated!!!!

Say it a few times if it makes you feel better. See if it stops you from jumping on the stress treadmill where you constantly beat yourself up for being the size you are, eating the lunch you ate, drinking the wine you drank last night—you see where I’m going. Acknowledge what held you back and what’s standing in your way now from losing the weight you want to lose. Now I’ll begin giving you the tools with the Cheat System that will make weight loss suck seem doable—because you’ll see results.


If you haven’t noticed already, the secret to Cheat System’s success is that we don’t just tackle food and exercise. We know, after working with our members at PEERtrainer, that successful weight loss isn’t just getting the food and exercise right, it’s about the psychology: believing that you can do it and matching your desires to your expectations. That’s why this book promises to help you lose lots more weight than using the Cheat Sheet (the list of what to eat and what to avoid, most of the time) alone.

After introducing the Cheat Sheet to our members at PEERtrainer, we found that people really wanted a plan, so we wrote this book. Based on the Cheat Sheet alone, our members lost an average of 14.2 pounds over a period of three months.

“The Cheat System has been the only healthy eating plan that has ever worked for me! Not only has it enabled me to lose weight I never thought I would get rid of, it was so simple, and it worked from the first day.

“Please don’t think it’s just another diet; it isn’t—it gets rid of cravings and it’s simple and easy to follow. Please, please, give it a go—you won’t regret it. After years of trying every diet out there, this was the answer to my prayers because it works! I only wish you were in the UK, because there are thousands of people over here who need your help, too!”

—Dawn G., United Kingdom

But The Cheat System Diet is bigger than the Cheat Sheet (which you can find a full version of online at http://www.peertrainer.com/cheattracker). The Cheat System attacks all the aspects holding you back from weight loss. Almost everything you read in these pages will sound counterintuitive. For example, in this chapter, we talked about how to get your mind set on success, rather than focusing on dieting and repeating the same expectation of failure. In Chapter 2, we’ll explain how you don’t have to worry about fat content or fiber. In Chapter 3, we’ll discuss how you should slow down and shorten the length of your workouts—as well as get off the cycle of stress you’ve been riding.

And in Chapter 4, we’ll show you how you can eat whatever you want (within reason)—all of which will help you lose the weight that you’ve been trying to get rid of.

Plus, if you ever find that you need help, want support from others on the same path, or simply have a question you’d like to ask me, you can visit PEERtrainer for even more answers. There’s a section dedicated especially to readers of this book, but really the whole site is a tool you should use whenever you like.

“Every single ‘FREE’ e-mail and article I have ever received from the PEERtrainer Team have been the key to solving the great and frustrating mystery of weight loss … I owe my success to the entire PEERtrainer Team, and believe me, I get asked all the time ‘What are you doing, you look fabulous!’ The answer is simply to pass along your Web site address!”

—Deborah, Saskatchewan, Canada

Yes, I’m going to give you the plan. And yes, I’m going to give you tips and tricks and advice and directions. And yes, I’m going to give you the Cheat Sheet—Cheats and Eats—which is the key to the Cheat System Diet. The Cheat Sheet breaks down every food, spice, herb, and beverage out there into two categories: the Eats—of which you can eat as much as you want—and the Cheats—which you limit but don’t have to eliminate from your diet, ever.

“I like the idea that nothing is truly off limits. I have a vicious sweet tooth and am a big carb addict. While I know carbs/sugar are the key to my weight gain, I know I can’t just walk away from them and be happy. I like the idea that I can still acknowledge them as part of my diet.

“Just do the Cheat System. It’s probably the easiest ‘plan’ I’ve ever seen. You can slowly add more and more healthy foods to your diet and slowly phase out the ‘cheats,’ at your own pace. I have never been successful for more than a couple days (if that) on a rigid system. I don’t even bother with them. But this worked.”

—Dawn M., Springfield, Ohio

By having unlimited Eats, you’ll never be hungry between meals because you’ll feel full for hours longer than you do now. The Eats are full of micronutrients, which will make your body run more efficiently and reduce physiological stress. (That might sound like a minor thing, but it’s really the catalyst to dropping fat fast.) You’ll have more energy during the day, and sleep better at night.

You won’t be white-knuckling it on this diet. There are more Eats that you can have unlimited portions of than there are Cheats. You won’t be hungry, and you’ll have plenty of energy to make good decisions, and to keep making them.


The more you move toward healthy eating and habits and behaviors and psychology and the more you move away from what you’ve been doing (the dieting status quo of restrictive diets and long tedious workouts that everyone fails to lose weight on but still believes in), the more effective your weight loss is going to be.

I created the Cheat System to be a basic framework that leads to a gentle shift over time. It’s a simple system that is easy to follow, one that doesn’t lead to people feeling bad about themselves. And most important, it’s a system that helps to promote better health long term.

But the key to why the Cheat System works, really, is the word “Cheat.” What if you could cheat and actually lose weight, stay on track and improve your health? What if you could have your bacon and lose ten pounds, too? You can, on Cheat System.


Four things to keep in mind as you start the Cheat System:

1. It’s critical to have a road map.

No matter how much you commit to doing the diet, you are going to encounter pitfalls, setbacks, and challenges. It is just a part of life. If you aren’t prepared to deal with any of those things, though, then you’ll find yourself dead in the water. There is always going to be temptation around you. There is always going to be an end-of-season soccer team party, the donuts in the kitchen at work, and the weekend barbecues with sausage, ribs, triple cream cheese spread, and nachos, the buffets and vacations.

So you have to have a road map that keeps you focused and on track when those temptations abound. You want to be able to enjoy them from time to time without going off the cliff. You have to have a way to build these types of events into your normal lifestyle or you will find yourself continually frustrated.

The Cheat System Diet gives you that road map. It’ll show you a simple way to keep track of your consumption without having to deprive and starve yourself.

2. Willpower is not enough.

Relying on your own willpower or discipline, as we discussed earlier, isn’t a realistic or effective long-term weight-loss strategy. It is almost always a story with an unhappy ending. If you’re white-knuckling your eating, the tension will eventually become too much and you will overeat.

When you’re hungry—which you are when you are on a restrictive diet—you simply can’t be disciplined or have willpower. Your stress and your hunger and your hormones and your cortisol overwhelm your body.

In order to succeed, you need to be well fed and happy—which is what the Cheat System does. When you deprive yourself, food is always on your mind. When you’re well fed with healthy, high-nutrient foods, you’re not thinking about food. You’re just living your life, and that’s a good thing. That’s where we will be taking you.

3. Be patient and persistent.

You have to break the cycle of beating yourself up. You will be successful, but it’s going to require some patience and persistence. You can’t start eating the Eats and two days later be discouraged and give up if the scale doesn’t move. All that does is further cement you in the faulty belief that it’s not possible for you. Rubbish.

You can do this, but you have to be smart about it. It’s not an overnight process (nothing that gives you real and lasting results is). It may take a bit of time to build the habits you need to get you there, so take a deep breath … and now another … and one more … and smile and be easy on yourself. You need to treat yourself with at least compassion and understanding. Be easy on yourself and you’ll get much further much quicker.

4. You don’t have to be perfect to succeed, either.

As our partner and diet guru and great friend JJ Virgin always says, “Go for the B+, not the A+.” Perfection is impossible, and so is being 100 percent on your diet all the time. But what is possible is being on the diet and doing what you should, eating what you should about 80 to 85 percent of the time: the B+. We have built imperfection into the Cheat System—we are all human, after all! And even without perfection, it really works.

“The whole idea of cheating allowed me to succeed without being perfect. Don’t get it into your head that it is impossible; instead, see that it can and will work if you make wise choices and stick with them…”

—Tom S., Florida

Before we get into the details of the diet in the next chapter, I want you to know that I’ve thrown a lot at you. I’ve explained how your brain works, I’ve explained that you need your must, and we will get into all of that later, but right now, I want you to just think about one thing that’s tripping you up. I know you’re probably thinking, Jackie, there are 150! But concentrate on one thing.

Is it the candy on your secretary’s desk at work? Is it the playdate where the other mom is drinking chardonnay and you can’t say no? Or is it date night? Or is it the fact that your husband or roommate can eat whatever he or she wants and not gain weight?

I want you to pick that one thing and I want you to give it up or avoid that habit for one day. You give up the candy in the office, or say no to the other mom, or suggest an at-home date night where you make your husband or roommate a healthy meal.

You will see the effect. You will see results, even if it’s teeny-tiny. And you will teach your brain that it’s a better deal not to do whatever it is that’s been tripping you up.

Before you start the Cheat System, you have to know that what you do will have a result and that you believe you can do it. We’re still a carrot-and-stick mentality at a certain point, so you want and need your brain to be on board. Your brain must think that the changes you’re making are a better deal. And you have to figure out what your must is. Write it down and write down your goal now. Make the water boil and jump out. And jump in to your new life.

Copyright © 2014 by PEERtrainer, Inc.

Meet the Author

JACKIE WICKS founded PEERtrainer, the leading online weight loss community, in 2005, after struggling to lose the 60 pounds she gained during pregnancy. PEERtrainer now reaches over 250,000 active subscribers a week and nearly a million unique visitors a month. US News & World Report calls PEERtrainer one of the best sites to lose weight, and it's been featured on Good Morning America, and in People, the New York Times, WSJ, USA Today, O Magazine, and Good Housekeeping.

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The Cheat System Diet: Eat the Foods You Crave and Lose Weight Even Faster: Cheat to Lose 12 LBS in 3 Weeks 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The Cheat System Diet is the first diet book I've read that provides a modern and realistic approach towards weight loss, while affectively  factoring in everyone's desire to "cheat". The author's strategy of breaking down weight loss into three essential pillars: 1. High-Nutrient Eating 2. Limiting Cheats and 3. Reducing Inflammation and Shrinking the Fat Storage System; all of which are not limited to the PEERtrainer's list of recommend cheats and eats, but provide a greater knowledge for readers about healthy eating and maintaining a balanced diet. As a working college student, finding a healthy and consistent eatting schedule can be challenging, but the Cheat System Diet equips its readers with the  ability to differentiate between 'cheats' and 'eats' and how to incorporate their guidelines into anyone's lifestyle. Not only does the author offer exercise tips and examples, there are also over 160 different recipes for readers try or simply learn from. It does not matter what kind of "dieter" you are,  diet system applies to anyone's lifestyle by providing an organized and attainable structure with a universal acknlowdgement of human tendencies such as indulging in cheats without blame, but with an understanding solution of balancing out those desireable cheats with the proper eats.  Many people I know spend countless hours at the gym without the correct knowledge about their food intake and this book finally gives people the necessary insight about food and the importance of balance within one's diet.
cjchrist More than 1 year ago
The Cheat System Diet tries to convince the reader that losing weight will be easy and painless, because “cheats” are allowed on the diet. There are some good tips, such as focusing mostly on vegetables, especially greens. The data on cortisol’s effect on weight loss is interesting and accurate, and Jackie Wicks is enthusiastic and motivating as a writer. However, the list of what she considers “cheats” is disconcerting. Yogurt? A second cup of coffee? In practice, this diet would be very rigid. According to Jackie Wicks, you can “earn” extra cheats by eating more of the “right” foods (the “eats”). But figuring what you’ve earned and whether a serving of something is an “eat” or a “cheat” sounds quite confusing, at least in print. In addition, many of the recipes include items that small-town folks like myself would never be able to find locally. Her assertion that we eat the “wrong” foods because we’re hungry due to not consuming enough micronutrients is just plain wrong—many people still eat junk food after a full dinner, not because they’re hungry, but because they want to taste that food. Let’s face it—junk food tastes good—it’s manufactured to appeal to our senses, and often, hunger has nothing to do with it. People eat junk for emotional reasons not having anything to do with real hunger. (I’m still waiting for the experts to address this issue—food as a sensory experience that we don’t want to end because we want to keep tasting it and chewing it, similar to things like a massage, a gorgeous piece of music, or a soft blanket). Her advice on exercise will appeal to many: Jackie says to cut back on exercise, down to 20 minutes a day. She even considers playing Wii games a good form of exercise. I guess anything is better than sitting in your recliner. The essence of this book is: Eat TONS of greens and vegetables (big mixing bowls full) and don’t beat yourself up exercising. This book has some good advice, but many people will need to modify it to fit their lifestyle.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a great book, and a great system. It is based on science rather than skepticism- rare for a diet book! It is written with a down-to-earth, nobody-is-perfect attitude, which is exactly what people need to hear when they are feeling guilty and unworthy of perfect health. This book proves that everybody can make moves towards better health, long-term.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Now I see why this book isn't successful. It came out too late in the year and it feels like the author spent more time worrying about clever and cute title that they forgot about the book itself. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
In here