Friday, March 18, 2011

Berate vs. Balance

As everyone knows, yesterday was St. Patrick’s Day.  Despite its historical meanings, today the holiday has mostly become a celebration of Irish culture, including music, food, drink, and costume.   Of the adult crowds that celebrate, none can deny that St. Patrick himself seems to have adopted a standard of heavy Irish beer drinking and corned beef eating.  I have always loved this holiday, even as a youngster when it was not about the beer.  There was something deeply nostalgic about Celtic music, bagpipes, rustic food, dying everything green, and saying ‘must be the Luck o’ the Irish!’ every chance I got.   
The holiday is not exactly the same for me now as it was when I was ten.  Alas, the holiday has become Americanized (as most are) and characterized by overindulgence.   But I am not cynical, as I love it just the same, but I am forced to approach the holiday with caution.  Yesterday my boyfriend and I dined a fantastically Irish meal with Guinness Corned Beef, Colcannon, Irish Soda Bread, and a big glass of the classic Irish Stout (Guinness again!).   I had planned it all week, looking forward to the meal and even sinking my teeth into homemade yummy meat (yes, meat).    Hold your judgment.  As someone who is health conscious and strives to treat my body well, but absolutely loves celebrating with holiday food and festivities, I must strike a balance.  Yet, I realize this is not easy and I often struggle with achieving peace after such decadent pleasure. 

Our overwhelming response to overindulgence is self-destruction.  This could come in the form of self-degradation where we blame our weakness for eating or drinking too much.  Or this is come in the form of quitting; we throw our hands up in defeat and say ‘Forget this!  I might as well forget about my diet and exercise!’  Sometimes in an overzealous effort to reach equilibrium, we throw ourselves into a health-kick frenzy…eventually becoming a yo-yo dieter.  What I discovered is that I am not alone, as plenty of us choose to berate ourselves instead of coming back to balance.  
This is ridiculous!  When we do poorly on a test, do we assume all tests from here on out are a fated failure?  If we fall down the stairs once, do we fall down every flight of stairs we attempt to descend?  I sure hope not!   So why are we tempted to be so hard on ourselves when we enjoy a celebration? 
What I discovered is that I have to be okay with my choices and then quickly move on.   They happened and there is no turning back time.  I knew all week that I was excited for our Irish meal and I enjoyed feeling that excitement.  I had never made (or ate) corned beef or colcannon and I had never made Irish soda bread.  There was wonderful pleasure in planning for and devouring our authentic  meal.  Do not deny yourself these moments!  It’s okay to have these days, meals, or whatever where you break your own rules.  It does not mean you will continue to quit or fail or that you have no strength to endure.  What it means is that you are human.  What saves me is knowing that I will not continue to indulge after, but rather I will go back to normal with a fresh attitude.  Have a plan to cure your post-holiday-guilt and avoid beating yourself up.   Personally, I knew this morning would be warmer so I prepared last night to walk to work instead of drive.  I packed a healthy vegan lunch and yoga gear for my post-work practice.   Getting back to a normal healthy routine is crucial.
There was nothing better  to start my day than powerfully walking to work at 7:30 in the morning with soda bread in my belly and a Guinness on my mind.
As you ramble through life, whatever be your goal;
Keep your eye upon the doughnut, and not upon the hole.—Irish Proverb

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