There comes a time in any dieter’s life for the last indulgence before the diet begins. It could be one last big huge honkin restaurant dessert. It could be one delicious last gourmet meal at your favorite restaurant. It might even be one all out eat it all feast with girlfriends before the diet begins. World’s greatest frenemy: the diet.
A couple of nights ago, I had dinner with a close friend. The dinner was her one last oh my goodness rock my socks off meal before her weeks of restriction and deprivation and bowls and bowls of sprouts began (if she were lucky). Hearing her talk about this upcoming diet, you would think she was being shipped off somewhere cruel and harsh, military style. You would think that she would not even remember the taste of good food when it was over, that she would be so tired, exhausted by the grueling fitness routine and dulled by the endless meals of nothing but very little food that by the end of it she would have forgotten herself completely, if not everything at all.
This diet she spoke of sounded like punishment, not an effort to get healthy, not an attempt to feel better. She was concerned with looking better (read: thinner), and, while there is nothing in the world wrong with that, I was concerned for her, her sanity, her happiness, her well-being, because all of this, including the feast, was for her wedding diet, for the big day.
I hear it all the time. The crash diets to go on the cruise. My own efforts to diet to look good at graduation, or a big party, or on vacation. Colleagues who want to diet and run every single day for miles and miles and miles to look good on their honeymoons.
Now, before I go on, I should tell you that this friend of mine is absolutely beautiful, and not the type of beautiful you see everyday. Her skin glows. Her smile could light up an entire room (for real) and she is charming and kind. The perfect package, you might say. And, now she was headed down diet’s dreaded path.
At dinner, my dear friend ate-everything in sight. From appetizers to rich, creamy, luscious pasta, to two desserts and cocktails and wine, she downed herself with culinary delights in preparation for the storm ahead.
Then, we went home and the next morning, she talked about her meal like it was God’s own dinner. Then, the diet began. She became crabby, irritable within days. She told me she missed food, almost every kind of food. She was exhausted. She wanted a pizza. An entire pizza. Now.
Then, on the phone this morning, she said to me, there has to be a better way.
Living healthy is not about dieting and not dieting and restricting and not restricting. It cannot be. It should not be. Our bodies should not have to miss out on dessert. That’s just not right. It is not fair. Our bodies should be able to, in their infinite greatness, digest a good dessert every once in a while and then enjoy some carrots maybe, if we feel like it.
The point here is that setting ourselves up to diet, for the big day (the wedding, the graduation, the cruise, the vacation) makes us hate the diet. It makes us indulge when we may not really want to eat that much because we know that the food Gods are going to take away the good food the next day (who, on that stranded island, would not enjoy two desserts?) It also keeps us from living every day, mindful of our bodies and our health, while also enjoying food. All in moderation. The perfect balance.
The eat it today because tomorrow I will starve, restrict, deprive, not eat tasty food, is not healthy. It is not good. It is not right. In fact, the diet in itself is wrong. It’s bad. It’s just not fair. Living healthy, 365 days a year, enjoying and celebrating our bodies, allows us to enjoy all of these special occasions in the skin we are in and not the body of a woman we have to create to go on vacation (after all, it is vacation. why should it take SO much work?)
Taking steps to look better (exercising more, eating more fruits/veggies for nutrients, drinking more water), all of that is a good thing, even if it is to look good on our wedding day. In fact, getting healthier anytime is a good thing-if it is actually healthy you are after (and not just a smaller dress-or bikini).
Because-have we ever thought that maybe, just maybe, we would look good on our wedding day as is? Not any thinner? (I know we could always be thinner, but do we actually need to be thinner-to be healthier, or even, to be more beautiful?) Because, you know what, I think we just might look beautiful, as is-or, that our efforts should be to get healthy (and beautiful will just naturally follow?) Besides, if we want to start our diet tomorrow, imagine what that means we will eat tonight.