I love all things New Orleans. Its one of my favorite travel destinations. I love breakfast at Brennan's, dinner at Redfish Grill, walking down Bourbon Street and listening to the jazz spill out from the cramped little bars. I love beignets at Cafe du Monde followed by a stroll through the Farmer's Market. I love looking for treasures on the walls of the many art galleries as well as in the stories of the people who run them.
To me, New Orleans conjures up feelings of carefree expression and creativity. Not to mention, some good old-fashioned fun personal memories like seeing the Packers play the Saints in the Superdome and spending my 30th birthday celebrating Mardi Gras with a million other revelers. Good times. Good times.
So I always celebrate Fat Tuesday with a little over indulgence. That usually starts with a big ole bakery box of paczki (pronounced poonch-key). Now, the whole Paczki Day addition to Mardi Gras is more of a Polish thing that us Midwesterns celebrate. Especially areas with large Polish communities like Detroit, Chicago, and Milwaukee. I mean a holiday that is celebrated by eating donughts? Sign me up! The bakeries turn out these powder-sugary, fruity-filled concoctions once a year on this day before Ash Wednesday. The best bakeries will have lines early in the morning. I am fortunate to live close to one of the best producers of these sinful little indulgences. So I made sure to order mine well in advance, along with a King Cake - which is more of a New Orleans tradition.
Historically, the whole Fat Tuesday thing came about when Christians were preparing for Lent. They would use up all the eggs, lard, sugar, flour and fruit before Ash Wednesday when they would traditionally fast, and then give up such indulgences until Easter. I'm not Catholic and have never really celebrated Lent. But I do honor the Holy Season and find much strength in the Biblical significance of giving up luxuries for 40 days.
Anyway, yesterday morning my kids anxiously awaited the arrival of the bakery box of goodness. I then promptly took another box to a friend's house and celebrated Fat Tuesday with two of the greatest women I know. And man did we do it up! We celebrated personal accomplishments and just enjoyed being in the company of each other.....and in the company of an extraordinary amount of food! We felt no guilt and decided that according to all food diaries, this day never happened. (Because really...have you seen the cholesterol count in eggs benedict?! Yikes!)
The remainder of the day brought about many more poor food choices and a full 24 hours sporting my "comfy pants".
So is there a point to all of this, you ask?
Well....d'uh. This is the rambling portion. Realizations will start shortly.
Anyway, I had a great day. I enjoyed my friends, my diet way too high in sugar and fat, and the 24 hours of guilt-free fun that Fat Tuesday allowed me.
The realization kicked in when I had to take an antacid before bed. I felt just plain yucky! Plus I didn't sleep well at all. On top of that, I had some really horrible dreams.
You see, since the beginning of the year I have been doing pretty well watching what I eat. I've been logging every ounce of food online at NutriDiary.com. I'm uber aware of how many calories, fiber, iron, and all sorts of other stuff that I'm consuming. I haven't cared so much about the calorie count as much as just eating cleaner and being more aware of the nutrition content of food. The food logging has brought about a relatively painless 11 pound weight loss (which includes a 3 pound weight find while I was on vacation at the end of January!)
So while I had a blast yesterday, I'm just more confident that I'm really ready to rock this healthy lifestyle and start running. I like the way I feel when my body is properly fueled. And as brilliant as the whole "Fat Tuesday" concept is to a fat girl - it lead to a mid-day sugar coma and a significant food hangover I will now refer to as "Oh My God I Can't Believe I Ate That Wednesday". (Which I fully intend on celebrating again next year.)
During our five hour breakfast, my friends and I were talking that maybe this year we would give up something for Lent ourselves. It was kind of tough for me to think of something. I don't have many vices. I only drink occaisionally, I don't smoke, I don't do drugs, and I really don't eat that poorly. I eat good food. I just eat vast amounts of it. I thought about giving up refined sugar - which would make sense. But between now and Easter is my birthday and my daughter's birthday. And, let's just face it, there will be cake involved. No sense in making a promise I can't keep.
So since I couldn't come up with one thing to give up, I decided I will limit myself to 1500 calories a day. That will certainly be a sacrifice for me, but also doable I think. Plus it will help make this running goal a bit easier.