Summer is officially here! What comes to mind when you think of summer? I think of warm weather, beaches, family, friends, concerts, sunglasses, flip flops…and parties. Now, get that image of a keg out of your head. That’s not what I mean.
I mean summer parties, whether in the form of barbecues, bonfires, backyard grad parties, festivals, tasting events…frequency of all of the above really kicks up in the summertime. I already know this from personal experience over the last month – and it wasn’t even summer yet.
With these parties come the usual suspects – food and drinks. Suspect is probably a poor choice of words though.
It’s a poor choice of words because thinking of the food and drinks at my beloved tastings, BBQs, and shindigs as bad guys is exactly what I’m struggling with…and trying to get away from.
I’ve found that in the back of my mind, as I sip on my sangria and roast my marshmallows, I’ve been battling those nagging feelings of guilt over indulging. A creeping fear that I will enjoy doing so to such an extent, that it will become a daily habit (and hence, no longer an “occasional splurge”).
Which stinks, because what I really want to do is tell those thoughts to go to hell so that I can have fun with my friends and relax. In fact, Jeff and I have even created a little inside joke hashtag that we can throw out at me when I need to do just that – #CalmDownCaitlin.
Sometimes at summer festivities, I start feeling overwhelmed. I look around at all the good food and refreshing drinks, and I want to try it all. It’s OK to try it all! Then my over-planning mind kicks in: But what if I get full first and overeat? What heavy ingredients are in that dip? How much juice is in that sangria?
I am often able to find myself distracted enough by good times to quiet my mind and enjoy myself in the moment. I’m glad I haven’t been missing out on anything.
But often times when I get home from a BBQ or a tasting event, I start dwelling on what I ate. On if it was really “necessary” for me to have a second helping, or if I really “needed” to have a third glass of wine.
OK, maybe I physically don’t need dessert, or cheesy dips, or creamy potato salad. But when I’m surrounded by family and friends enjoying those things, and when I find myself looking at them with envy, that doesn’t matter. It’s what I WANT, not what I SHOULD do, that can guide my decisions and my actions.
The problem is that I don’t trust myself when I’m surrounded by stuff I get excited about – stuff like this:
But just because I love all the food and drinks at these parties doesn’t mean I’m going to go crazy and eat everything. In fact, it means it’s the PERFECT time for me to just sit back, enjoy myself, and try the foods that I want to try. Eat the potato salad that I want to eat, despite the fact that it’s got bacon on top. I mean, these fabulous parents are grilling us all this amazing meat and seafood, so why not throw some steak onto my plate next to the chicken?
I honestly am usually more of a savory food lover than a sweets lover, so why not have a bit of that Coca-Cola chocolate cake (below right) if I want it? Eating it will not make me want to eat it every single day from then on out.
There’s a reason everyone, me included, looks happier with an ice cream cone in hand. Ice cream is worth it. Happiness is worth it!
No use crying over spilled milk, right? So no use feeling guilty over strawberry shortcake either. OK, that was a reach. Go with it.
When I’m smiling like this and having a good time, does it really matter that I’m not being “perfect Caitlin”? That I’m not eating clean? It’s just one day – one meal, even.
I don’t want to look back on my summer, or any time in my life, and regret holding myself back. There are already periods of my life that I feel that way about. I don’t want there to be any more. How can I hold myself back when there are so many good times to be had?
What’s the benefit of living a physically healthy lifestyle if I can’t be mentally healthy, too? I’ll have this body for the rest of my life, but I’ll also have this mind. And the guilty feelings that invade it and scold me for following up dessert with another glass of red are not healthy.
I want to let go. I want to let the good times roll. I want to come home at the end of the day, take a deep breath, and tell myself that I wasn’t perfect today – and have that be a GOOD thing. I want to CONGRATULATE myself!
Because I deserve to laugh at moments like this…
I deserve to sit around a bonfire and play Catch Phrase with my friends…
I deserve to say “yes” when someone asks me if I’d like a s’more…
I deserve it all! And that’s OK.
Do you have certain times of the year when indulging stresses you out more than usual? I know the holidays are another time that many worry about.
Do you have any suggestions that have been helpful to you for dealing with feeling guilty over not eating “100% clean”?
What ways are you kind to yourself mentally?