I like to think I am a strong-willed person. I try not to fall into temptation and I try to practice discipline at all times, especially when it comes to my body. But I am all too human and sometimes I fall off the wagon. One of my more frequent lack of will-power offenses is the tendency to overeat.
There is absolutely no shred of victory when one overeats (unless you win a competitive eating contest). The sick, painful feeling you experience in your stomach when you chow down too much is awful; the feeling in your conscience that you betrayed your body and took a step back from the hard work you have completed in the gym is even worse. It is so easy to become victimized by this. You work up a large appetite or find yourself in a situation where eating large amounts of food is acceptable and encouraged and you are pretty much doomed. You can go into a meal with the best intentions but come out feeling like a big ol’ fat pig.
I usually eat myself to death in three situations. The first occurs at holiday dinners. The holidays are fun, joyous times where people cook giant meals that have a whole bunch of love and calories poured into them. I look forward to my mom’s Thanksgiving dinner all year long so naturally when that day in November comes along, I go all in. A year of build up turns into a half hour of absolute bliss and then it transforms into a night of stomach pains and self-guilt. I also feel like the most unhealthy person in the world after I visit a buffet. When you go to a buffet, there is just no way not to go overboard. The whole premise of these places is to challenge your “all-you-can-eat” threshold and do all you can to come out ahead of the restaurant by eating more than what you paid for. I plan to do a post someday on the buffets I have conquered/been conquered by and the culture that predominates at these places. Whether it was a traditional buffet, Chinese buffet, pizza buffet, brunch buffet, etc., I have gone in hungry and come out sick.
The final situation where I always find myself overeating in comes by way of the special occasion family night out dinner. This dining experience provides the “perfect storm” for overindulgence because it combines portions of the first two examples I provided above: You have the happy, feel-good component of a special event that makes you more susceptible to eating more than necessary and you have the eating out aspect that also tells your brain that it is acceptable to go a little harder than usual. This situation is where I fall victim to most.
Last night we celebrated my dad’s 55th birthday by traveling to Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. We arrived to the resort town on a scorching sun-drenched day and walked up and down their main downtown strip. We checked out the many shops that dotted the area and then cooled off at one of the popular nearby bars. The walking, the weather, and the couple drinks consumed at the bar had me ready for my dad’s birthday dinner.
At my dad’s choosing, we ate at Texas Roadhouse. If you have never eaten at this well-known chain, just notice the first word in the restaurant’s name (“Texas”) and you probably have a decent idea about their portion sizes. Specializing in burgers, chicken, and steak, you better be hungry when you arrive. With all the extras you get at Texas Roadhouse combined with the relative inexpensive menu prices, the chance of overeating is quite high.
My dad, mom, and myself got to the restaurant but my sister and her husband had yet to arrive so we went straight to the bar where my consumption crusade began. We ordered beers and immediately started eating peanuts from the giant tin tubs they have lining the bar. If you know anything about me, you know I can eat more peanuts than an elephant. At baseball games I buy a whole bag and finish every nut in usually less than two innings. Feeling rejuvenated in the awesomely air conditioned restaurant while watching the Yankees-Red Sox baseball game with a cold, tall beer right in front of me, I started cracking shell after shell after shell. About fifteen minutes later my sister arrived and we were seated at a table.
Waiting for us at our dinner table? Two more tin buckets of peanuts! Shortly thereafter, we were brought the famous Texas Roadhouse rolls. Doused in butter, sweetly seasoned, and served with a spread that has to be 100% fat, they tasted like a little piece of heaven. We all devoured several rolls. Because it was a special occasion we had to get an appetizer as well. We settled on their cactus blossom, a deep fried onion snack that is analogous to Outback’s blooming onion. By the time we got our appetizer, all of us were already starting to get a little full by way of the beer, peanuts, and rolls. When our cute little waitress brought out the cactus blossom she took our entrée order. I ordered the pulled pork dinner. It came with bread AND two sides. I got steak fries and seasoned rice.
When our entrees arrived, I had already had enough. But you can’t just give up on the main course. I forked through the giant mound of pulled pork, making a modest dent in it. I ate a few of the steak fries. I ate almost the entire cup of rice. By the time I could see the bottom of the cup of rice, I threw in the towel, but it was already too late…I felt like garbage. Everyone else at the table looked defeated too. We messed with Texas and Texas won.
Driving the fifty minutes back to Spokane sucked. I felt like the fattest person on the planet. I pretty much swore I would never eat again (that oath was broken at 5am this morning). I groaned. I scolded myself. Once again I lacked the necessary self-control that would have enabled me to look at myself in the mirror with my shirt off that night. I felt like a loser.
Just like drinking or gambling, when it comes to eating we all need to put limits on ourselves. For me with eating, I sometimes struggle. No matter how bad the feeling is after I overeat I seem to have way too short of a memory because I always let it happen again down the road. Well, today I pledge I will never overeat again…until at least my mom’s birthday on August 2. Don’t Blink.