Our holiday weekend was quite indulgent from a food perspective. Friday night we got together with some friends for a Spanish tapas party. The tables were redolent with the warm scents of cumin and paprika, saffron and fennel. There were warmed, herbed olives; roasted red and yellow peppers in a smoky paprika oil; slices of fresh sourdough. A friend made a beautiful paella and I brought a warm kale salad with Marcona almonds and Serrano ham. It was a meal meant for grazing, for filling and refilling our small plates from time to time over the course of the evening. A good Sangria accompanied it all and glasses practically replenished themselves.
Like so many others, we had our Easter celebration yesterday. It was just the three of us—me, Marc and our youngest son Luke—but I still managed to set the table with my parents’ Limoges china and a bounty of candles. I eschewed the more traditional ham years ago for a rack of lamb with a crust of breadcrumbs and rosemary. There was butter-braised asparagus cloaked in spring herbs, decadent Vermont cheddar-mashed potatoes, homemade hot cross buns, and a pretty pear-lime jello salad. For dessert, I served homemade carrot cake with cream cheese icing. Only Luke could finish his piece.
Today I woke up feeling a little down and more-than-a-little guilty. Before I even climbed out of bed, I started thinking about how much I had consumed, how food-centric our festivities had been. Off track, I thought to myself. I’m off track from where I want to be.
How does guilt slither so connivingly into my brain? I am convinced guilt is actually a member of the fat food group, the way it oozes into me. I hadn’t started my day and I was filling myself with negative energy. I knew I was above my five-pound maintenance weight range.
Well. Take-back Monday, right? I was damned if I was going to be defeated by a too-exuberant weekend. So, I got ready for my workout and I got on the scale—and then I got a little confused. Yes, I was near the top of my range, but I wasn’t over it. Maybe I hadn’t been so over-the-top after all?
During my workout I decided to look back on the weekend and debrief myself. Get out of the “I’ve been bad” mindset and think about what I did right and what I could do better. Just figure it out and then move on. After all, I’ve been figuring it out over the last three years and I certainly am far from knowing all of the healthy living tools and strategies.
I turned my mind back to Friday. I tried everything but I did keep my portion sizes small to really small. The only foods in which I really indulged were the roasted peppers and the kale salad. I think the way I could have cut back most responsibly would have been to put some sparkling water in my Sangria so that it lasted longer.
I didn’t flex at all on Saturday or for breakfast and lunch on Sunday. That just left our Easter banquet. My indulgences then came down to the butter-braised asparagus, two thirds of a bun and three-quarters of a slice of the carrot cake. I ignored the potatoes and took only a modest portion of the lamb. The leftover carrot cake on my plate definitely was calling to me during our post-meal conversations; it would likely have been wiser to cut myself a smaller piece than to try to resist the last bit of a normally apportioned one.
But. That was it. My emotions had swamped me with negativity; yet, when I thought it through, I did a lot of things right. I also knew where I could do better, giving me more tools for my arsenal. I think, though, that my biggest lesson learned was not to trust my emotions that, somewhere, are still hardwired to make me feel guilty. Giving voice to those false emotions would do much more harm in my bid to live a happy and healthy life than, say, three-quarters a slice of carrot cake. Even though it was really, really decadent carrot cake!