Who is the Halloween Switch Witch?Oct 29, 2022
It was a brisk Halloween night.
The October moon shone so full and bright that we didn't need flashlights to find our way.
Me and Sharon were dressed up as overtired parents of elementary school children.
Giavanna was bouncing around in her super-daughter costume and George was in tow as an impossibly muscled junior hero.
One of my strength-and-conditioning-coach buddies saw a picture of the kids in their costumes.
He remarked that George obviously "skipped leg day."
You know, big upper body and skinny legs.
The night was wildly successful, as measured by the bounty of sweets acquired from our house-to-house candy solicitation.
I allowed myself to enjoy one mini-chocolate bar as we sauntered around the neighborhood.
"Dad are you eating my candies?" asked Gia.
I just mumbled because my mouth was full of her candies.
Let's just say that one sweet led to several or more.
I'm slightly embarrassed about this next part.
When we returned home, I ravaged our kids' chocolate bounty, just seconds after they walked upstairs for bath time.
Honestly, my behavior made no sense.
At first I rationalized the momentary weakness as having something to do with Twizzlers activating pleasure centers in my brain, which subsequently caused me to eat Skittles.
Just then I felt the rumblings of my impending bellyache as I heard approaching footsteps.
"Are you eating the kid's candy again, Joe?" Sharon asked.
"No, I'm protecting them from shocking amounts of candy. And I'll do whatever it takes to ensure the safety of our children!" I exclaimed.
I'll admit I felt a little ridiculous after Sharon discovered an Almond Joy wrapper in the trash bin.
"Really Joe? Almond Joy? That's like the worst candy ever," she said holding up the chocolate-smudged wrapper.
Head down I shamefully replied, "I don't like them either. But I ate it anyway."
Good news is I got back to healthy eating the following day.
What's my point?
When I create a fat-loss nutrition program for a client, "cheating" is as mandatory as is choosing fresh and unprocessed foods. I usually recommend one weekly cheat day.
It can be a full day, or sometimes a cheat night, or just a cheat meal. My personal cheat day is Sunday.
I felt especially guilty after that Halloween binge because I had already enjoyed my cheat day earlier in the week.
One cheat day, not two, right?
Here's why intermittent splurging is good for both mind and body.
Psychological Benefit of Cheating
Let's say you are a client and your priority-one goal is to lose 30 pounds of bodyfat in 30 weeks.
The bottom line is that you are a sum of your habits. You will lose fat once you start acting like you want to lose fat.
The way you look now is a direct result of the way you eat now. So you must upgrade your nutrition.
Let's also assume that you love Almond Joy candy bars (it could be sugary sodas, pasta, or anything) and you have one every day.
Guess what? I'm going to tell you to knock it off. No more daily Almond Joys.
"Coach Joe is mean," you say.
"Whole almonds and sweetened, shredded coconut covered in milk chocolate makes me happy. Coach Joe obviously doesn't want me to be happy!" you add.
But there is light at the end of the tunnel: Your cheat day.
Go ahead and have two candy bars that day.
You see, the cheat day allows you a day when you don't have to worry so much about carbs or even fat intake. You have a dedicated day off.
So during the week you can more easily forgo the junk you would normally eat because you can splurge on the free day.
And you're not depriving yourself because technically there is nothing that is off limits, including a box of donuts or a bucket of fried chicken.
(I guess, if you really tried, you could go overboard on the donuts, so practice some restraint.)
Bottom line: Occasional cheating improves nutritional compliance and keeps my fat-loss clients relatively sane.
The Physiological Benefit of Cheating
Your body is teeming with hormones. Some hormones want to keep you fat, some want to make you not-as-fat.
That's because your body's main purpose is to ensure survival, and stored body fat boosts your chance of survival during times when calories are scarce.
When you manipulate your nutrition to promote fat loss, you must create a caloric deficit.
That means you eat fewer calories then you did before.
But your body is like a wise old owl, and it will see that the calories are dropping, and do whatever it can to slow and even stop fat loss altogether.
Once again, the presence of bodyfat ensures survival, and your body thinks it's doing you a favor.
If it senses any food shortage it will alter levels of key hormones that will essentially slow metabolism and blunt fat loss.
This is why many traditional diets stall and ultimately fail.
Side note: Intense exercise can combat the metabolic slow-down, but that's another lesson.
One of these key hormones is leptin.
When calories are low, leptin levels fall. It's actually a very complicated system.
But in a nutshell, if the body's levels of leptin fall below a certain point, fat loss will cease.
High levels of leptin tell the body it is okay to release stored body fat for fuel.
And that's where the cheat comes in.
When you cheat you are essentially creating a short-term caloric spike.
The body responds very quickly to this spike (thankfully) and leptin output is increased. The increased leptin levels will allow for continued fat loss on non-cheat days.
You can think of it as taking a half step back to allow you to take two steps forward.
With this strategic approach, continued fat loss is achievable.
There is a fair amount of research regarding the "best" cheat foods.
It appears that high-carb foods work best, which means you've been doing the right thing for years.
Fat should usually be kept in check, but don't stress over it.
Deliberate nutritional cheating can improve your fat-loss program. So the choice it up to you.
It is okay to have a fun cheat. It is also acceptable to not cheat.
Just remember that you are the sum of your habits.
Who is the Halloween Switch Witch?
The Switch Witch lives on the dark side of the moon. And she loves candy.
In fact, she's so addicted to sugar that she’s eager to trade toys to girls and boys in exchange for their candy stash.
I must admit, when I first heard Sharon talk about this, I thought it was a terrible idea. Our kids would surely stage a mutiny.
But then Sharon spoke to the witch, who in turn made an important clarification:
Youngsters may choose to keep a little candy for themselves, but the more they give the Switch Witch, the better their toy will be.
The Switch Witch eats the candy over the course of the year. Unless the dad finds it and eats it on Halloween night.
Just when the Switch Witch runs out of sweet treats, it’s Halloween time again and time for her annual visit.
The Switch Witch can also be known as: "The Candy Fairy" or "Great Pumpkin" or "#NoMoreFun"
Another tip is to make Halloween only ONE day each year, after trick-or-treating or on the 31st of October.
Allow your kids (or grandkids) to pick five of their favorite pieces of candy. Place the rest on your front step for the Switch Witch.
In the morning, your kids will find a new toy, book, or something else they would value more than candy in exchange for the candy they left the night before.
As you know, Halloween marks the beginning of the holiday season.
The months of November and December are filled with even more treats, parties, family gatherings, alcohol, and general busyness.
So how do you continue to pursue your lean-and-strong-body goals despite this time of year?
The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again but expecting a different result.
As the holiday season approaches, do things differently than you have in the past.
It’s not about “depriving” yourself of your festive favorites, but rather substituting with healthier foods and behaviors.
Although I would argue that choosing your health and well being over sugar is not deprivation.
Do you hand out candy to trick-or-treaters in your neighborhood?
Let’s face it, every year kids receive plenty of sweets, starting in October and ending around December 31st.
Now imagine if you handed out something that wasn’t candy.
No, not cigarettes. I'm talking about something healthy.
My guess is the neighborhood kiddies would probably accept that crisp Granny Smith apple with a forced smile.
And perhaps even throw it at your front door later on that evening.
Non-Candy Halloween Alternatives
I asked Sharon about non-candy alternatives and she suggested these things:
🎃 Glow Sticks
🎃 Plastic jewelry that is glow in the dark and Halloween themed
🎃 Mini Play-dough containers
🎃 Halloween themed mini-toys: plastic eyeballs, fake fingers, etc.
Coach Sharon says: "Be creative. Ask your kids what special treats they would enjoy, other than candy and Granny Smith apples."
Another problem with Halloween candy is the sky-high amounts of high-fructose corn syrup and GMOs (genetically modified organisms).
To encourage a lean-and-strong body you want unprocessed foods that are rich in protein, fiber, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and phytonutrients.
Think fruits and vegetables paired with a protein, like salmon.
But, if you still want to eat, I mean hand out, candy here are some “better” choices.
🎃 Annie’s Gummy Snacks
🎃 Trader Joe’s Organic Pops
🎃 Justin’s Peanut Butter Cups
Just don't eat them all at one sitting.
Hope you enjoyed this lesson. If yes, please share.
To your success,
Joseph Arangio helps 40+ men and women get leaner, stronger, and happier. He's delivered over 100,000 transformation programs to satisfied clients around the globe. If you want to lose weight from home, with the best online personal trainer, or you want to visit the best personal trainer in the Lehigh Valley, you can take a free 14-day trial.