Want a Hot Dog on Labor Day? Choose It.
Ah, holidays. We’re coming up on Labor Day (it’s in 6 days, if you haven’t planned), where the weather is still hot enough for weekend-long barbecues and pool parties. Which, for a lot of us, means day drinking and “special” foods.
Feeling excited yet?
It’s interesting how, if we’ve got some body change goals, we spend a lot of time leading up to events like this in agony, wondering what we’ll do if we don’t bring our own food, asking ahead of time what the menu is, wobbling between “I’ll be ‘good,’” (separate conversation. ;) ) and “f it, I’ll eat it all and start over tomorrow.”
We don’t have to approach holidays – or anything – in life in a space of all or nothing.
You really can have it all.
Which may sound absurd, if you’re used to the, “dieting on holidays ruins diets AND holidays” mindset.
I was, for most of my life. That mindset fueled my binge eating disorder, and holidays were the prime target for the extreme binge-extreme shame-binge again cycle to rear its ugly head. I justified eating more food (and food that doesn’t even work for me), because it was a “special occasion.” Problem? It often took more than just the one holiday day to get back to rationality.
Even if you don’t suffer from disordered eating, the mentality behind it – the excuse to go hog wild because of some festivities – exists for us all. Because fatty/salty/cheesy food is delicious. But, let’s be real: if we want to eat said fatty/salty/cheesy whatever, just about any day can become a special occasion (Get a raise? Take off work early? Like that the sky is blue? We’re good at justification.).
So, what do we do? Worry? Avoid it? Bring Tupperware to the party? Eat everything in sight until it’s all gone (whether that takes a day or a weekend)? Eventually hate ourselves?
Once we realize that, no matter what, this opportunity is, realistically, just one day, the pressure dissolves. If we’re mostly reaching our nutrition goals (85-90% of the time), we have room for a burger or ribs or fries, and it’s not going to kill us (or our progress). That isn’t to absolve us of responsibility; we have to take an honest look if it’s *actually* the small minority of the time we’re indulging. But there’s nothing to obsess over, if we’re being real with ourselves.
And that brings me to an even more important point: we get to choose.
Get real: we don’t *have to* eat any particular way. We don’t have to stick to any one diet; we aren’t being force-fed vegetables; we are under no obligation to eat all the ice cream. All we have are choices to make.
There’s power in owning this choice. And it’s magical, because, all of a sudden, we can examine ourselves in our fullness (no pun intended). We get to ask, “am I choosing the hot dog just because that’s ‘what you do’ at a barbecue, or am I choosing the hot dog because it’s what I actually want?” Avoiding the spiral starts with choosing the indulgences we’re truly excited about and owning that decision.
And if it doesn’t turn out the way we thought it would (if we still feel guilt, if it wasn’t as good as we hoped it was, if we made more than one or two choices that left us feeling bloated or heavy, whatever), the great news is better things are always only one choice away. No need to wallow in the sad leftover overdone burgers and eat them for a week (I’m positive I’m not the only one who’s done this. Leftovers are a way of life, in my home.). Are you really wasting the food if you don’t eat something that you’re going to regret later? Was that grey burger patty going to go to the starving kids in Africa? If it was, please, drop it off (seriously. There’s a guy named Marty that is always up the street from me, and after every holiday, I make him a plate or two. I’m all about reducing unnecessary food waste.). If it was your belly (to destruct your guts and your self-worth) or the trash, no other option, please know the trash is a viable option. It’s being wasted (on guilt and muck or in the garbage) either way.
Turning special occasions into bingefests are no way to live. Trust me on this one. You may be familiar with the prison that creates and feel like there’s no escape. If that’s you, I’m starting a coaching group TONIGHT to dive into thought processes behind nutrition, workouts, and worthiness over the next 8w. Reply back if you’re interested, and I’ll send you all the details (it’s not too late!).
And if you need something to do with that leftover ground beef or Italian sausage (or in the picture, leftover shredded chicken)…
3 medium zucchini, halved and hollowed out with a melon baller
1/2lb protein of choice, seasoned however you prefer (I’ve really been into the crushed red pepper/lemon pepper/garlic/smoked paprika combo, recently)
1 can diced tomatoes
½ medium onion, minced
1/3c tomato sauce (homemade or jarred, your call)
1/4c parmesan cheese
Preheat oven to 350.
Mix protein, tomatoes, onions, and tomato sauce. Stuff hollowed-out zucchini halves with this mixture. Top with parmesan cheese. Bake 30m or until bubbly and cheese is browned. Serve.
(Because I’m into easy. If you’re more traditional, add an egg and some breadcrumbs to the filling. But I find this unnecessary, personally.)