“Those extra 5-10 pounds, that place where your body naturally want to be – that’s your life. That’s your late night pizza with your man, that Sunday morning bottomless brunch, your favorite cupcake in the whole entire world because you wanted to treat yourself. Those 5-20 pounds are your favorite memories, your unforgettable trips, your celebrations of life.
Those extra 5-10 pounds are your spontaneity, your freedom, your love.”
I read this quote on instagram and as I approach my birthday, this sums up what I have been feeling for a long time. A few years ago, I competed in fitness competitions around my birthday. Each year, my celebration would either be postponed and/or clouded by guilt, worry and fear. Laden with an analysis of what food would be there, how much I would eat, when I would workout and when I would work it all off. Would I be puffy the next day? Would I feel stiff and lethargic? Would it set me back days or weeks in my quest for my leanest body? AND would everyone be able to tell? How would I get back on track?
This worry lead me to hem and haw over planning a birthday dinner date with my dad, one of my best friends, to try to make sure I spaced out my celebrations enough because I didn’t trust myself not to overeat. Why should a birthday dinner with my dad cause me stress? Why should it drive him crazy when we are just trying to do what we have done all my life? What about the party with friends when we are out bowling for a night and I cannot participate in the shots bought for my birthday? This isn’t to say that I can’t say no or I am pressured to drink alcohol, I rarely drink, but the choice to drink or not should be exactly that, a choice. Not this devil on my shoulder telling me, “thats 100 extra calories, Lisa.” Where is the enjoyment in these events? Where is the gratitude for the good people in my life who took the time to celebrate with me? Why am I dreading every minute and every calorie instead of focusing on who I am with and the fun we are having?
Then I started to think, what else have I ruined? How many of you have have turned down invitations for social gatherings because of the fear of derailing your diet? I went to dinner at our favorite Italian restaurant for my boyfriend’s daughter’s birthday dinner. The spaghetti parm is probably one of my top five favorite foods. This was the end of February and my bikini show was the end of march. What did I do the next morning? I ran a half marathon on the treadmill.
At my niece’s birthday party, my sister made an amazing strawberry cake. I had a small piece and instead of enjoying the piece of cake fully, I worried about what it was going to make me look like. My boyfriend took me out to my favorite steakhouse for my birthday last year. He surprised me with my best friend and her husband there. I couldn’t even fully enjoy my steak because I was cranky over not having a piece of bread and butter or a glass of moscato with my best friend. He paid a pretty decent bill for a girlfriend who was feeling guilty instead of blessed. There are many ways to celebrate that don’t involve food, but, I love food. I love the bonding that takes place during parties and meals out. That won’t change. I don’t want it to. So I am trying to change my mindset instead. Its called a special occasion for a reason. Don’t forget the special part.
This year, I am not competing in a show or dieting down for a photoshoot. I made a vow to genuinely enjoy my time with my family and friends. I am choosing to focus on the conversations and the single fact that I am surrounded by some of the best people. I could not design better people and I refuse to let an obsession with food and calories distract me from the essence of what life is about; the company you keep. I will wake up the next morning tired from fun and laughs, but I will not wake up with guilt and remorse. For how could anyone feel bad after a night celebrating your life with the people who make it what it is?