A few weeks ago, in the spirit of exploring new possibilities now that my ‘normal’ life has imploded in spectacular fashion, I went to a backyard BBQ at the home of a friend-of-a-friend. It was mostly an excuse to comb my hair and put on lipstick. I expected good food and conversation – what I got was even better.
I got an invitation to a Pizza Night hosted by Christian Bowers, the foodie behind the Austin Food Journal, a blog about Austin restaurants, cookbooks, Christian’s kitchen adventures, and his homemade pizza. He writes all the content and takes his own photos; the Austin Chronicle noticed and gave him rave reviews.
In addition to hosting pizza nights, Christian also teaches a Serious Pizza Class. Think handmade crust with (sigh) truffle oil and best-quality ingredients. The Pizza Party is tomorrow, and I really hope he serves us something like this! (Note: I’m not posting a photo of Christian’s pizza because it is the most scandalously luscious food porn. If you browse around his site, you can get an eyeful. His photographs are gorgeous. Do not view his site while hungry.)
Um, Mel… what the devil are you doing eating pizza and talking about pizza when we all know you’re supposed to be doing the Whole30 this month?
That’s an excellent question, dear friends.
Here’s the deal: I started the Whole30 to give myself a construct for emotional and physical healing – the structure and accountability have been incredibly helpful. I’ve avoided all kinds of nutritional potholes at work… my fridge has been stocked with Food That Makes Me Healthy™… and my commitment to training, eating well, and rest – plus feeling inspired in the kitchen – has been reinvigorated.
In addition to all that physical care, I need to heal emotionally, too. Which means spending time with friends old and new, learning to enjoy my life while riding out this crisis, and being open to change. I’m a Taurus and a knucklehead, so the change is particularly hard.
For me, the whole point of CrossFit and dino-chow is to enjoy my life, to make it better. I’m not a competitive athlete or a Seal, and I don’t aspire to compete in the CrossFit Games. But I do want to be as happy, fit, strong, informed, and inspired as I can be. And I want to enjoy kickass experiences that are fun, illuminating, and, yes, sometimes delicious.
This is one of those experiences.
I thought about this question very deliberately: Is going to a pizza party a betrayal of my core values?
For me, the answer is no. It’s not as if I’m mindlessly snarfing a cold piece of Papa John’s that’s congealed on a paper plate in the corporate overlords’ kitchen. I’m making a deliberate choice to have a particular (delicious dining) experience.
When a talented person wields a knife and their imagination in the kitchen, the food that emerges is art. To me, tomorrow night is the equivalent of an art show – but instead of looking at a painting while drinking a glass of wine and discussing it, we’ll be eating the masterpiece.
Today, I’m eating clean. Tomorrow at breakfast, lunch, and two snacks, I’m eating clean. Wednesday, I’m eating clean. And most days after that, I’m eating clean. Tomorrow night at dinner, I’m indulging in delicious food with good people.
That seems right to me.
I’m not asking y’all for absolution or permission, but I am interested in what you think. How do you balance your nutrition values versus indulgences? Feel free to tell me if you think I’m just rationalizing the hell out of this. I think this is an important discussion for all of us – what does ‘balance’ mean?
OK, Mel…you’ve explained the pizza thing. What about the hot dog on Saturday? Isn’t that garbage food?
Why, yes, yes it is!
I don’t regret a single bite (’cause it was tasty, and I had fun), but Saturday night was an excellent reminder of the fact that booze is the devil. Yes, a Norcal margarita might be “less bad” than other options, but it’s still poison. And it’s poison that makes me crave other poison, which is why a Hot Dog King visit seemed like the best idea EVER at 1:00 a.m. I generally value happiness over fun, guidelines over chaos, dino-chow over garbage… but sometimes, I just put on my Converse and indulge. Mel = human.
[Note to newbies doing the Whole30 for the first time: Don't cheat yourself by "cheating" on your 30 days. I've done the 30-day, totally-clean Whole 30 twice in the last year, and it was very beneficial both times. Trust Melissa and Dallas when they say to give it the entire 30 days. You will be SO glad if you do.]
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