Last weekend, my sons went on an overnight trip with their school band. That left two adults home alone with no middle-schoolers to supervise us.
The first day, I was surprisingly teary-eyed at how quickly they’re growing up. It was a tiny taste of being an empty-nester.
But by evening, the giddiness of being able to watch an R-rated movie on Netflix before 10 pm won me over.
Saturday, my husband and I ventured out for a night on the town. It was splendid to go out without worrying about having to hurry home. Without the kids at home, we could go further than a neighborhood bistro. I decided it needed to be somewhere where I could wear the blingy sandals I bought for a fancy fundraiser last summer. I have been dying to wear them again but haven’t had the chance. We’re a pretty casual family.
So my husband and I went to a restaurant on the Fabulous Las Vegas Strip, overlooking the Bellagio’s fountains. It was lovely. The food was delicious.
And I ate too much. I felt a bit stuffed, even though I left some of both my entrée and dessert uneaten.
That’s actually the end of the story.
But I want to break it down, because I know that for many of you, it wouldn’t have been the end of the story. It would have been the beginning.
For many of you, eating a bit too much at a luxurious restaurant would be the beginning of a cycle that goes like this: overeat – beat yourself up – eat more – call yourself names – eat even more – feel disgusted – vow to start fresh Monday.
What I want for you is this: if you overeat (like everyone does sometimes), it’ll be the end of the story. You’ll treat it like a single event, not as proof that you have no willpower. It won’t be the beginning of a downward spiral.
Sometimes, you’ll overeat. That’s life. Sometimes, you’ll eat for emotional reasons. Everybody does. Sometimes, you’ll lose track of your hunger cues, and eat more than you needed to feel satisfied.
It’s what you make of that experience that is important.
When I realized, mid-way through dessert, that I would have been totally satisfied even without dessert, here’s how it went down:
What I did not tell myself:
- I lost control.
- I feel disgusting.
- I am disgusting.
- I will have to do extra work at the gym.
- I’ll start fresh Monday, so Sunday will be a food free-for-all.
What I did tell myself:
- That full feeling snuck up on me.
- I feel a bit uncomfortable, but it will pass.
- The whole experience was such a treat.
- How nice to not have to rush home.
- Yes, I did go for dessert, even though I was already feeling pretty full. That’s not something to beat myself up over.
The more important thing was that I got actual grown-up time with my sweetie. And I got to wear the blingy sandals.
The next day did not turn into “what the hell, I blew it yesterday, so I’ll cozy up with Little Debbie today.” Sunday was an ordinary day where I paid attention to how hungry I was and how satisfied/full I was getting when I ate a meal. Given that our bodies have remarkable ways of maintaining energy intake and weight (if we get out of our own way), I probably naturally ate a bit less Sunday and Monday, but didn’t overtly cut back or measure out portions.
End of story – for me.
I would love for it to be the end of story for you, too.