Valentine’s Day has never been my thing. But I appreciate the day for what it represents-an immense worldwide consumption of bright red, heart-shaped boxes filled with random selections of chocolate. While your outer dialogue may be filled with angst, disgust and temptation, your inner dialogue is more than likely shouting, “YAY! CANDY!”
Though there may be some extreme health nuts attempting to create impressive, yet lackluster, low-calorie Valentine’s Day recipes, there are a boatload of us who will be happily digesting our five pound boxes of chocolate in a day or two, politely responding with the giggled retort, “I can’t believe I ate all that chocolate! The diet starts tomorrow!”
So why do we feel guilty for the occasional indulgent behavior? Has the health conscious world guilted us into feeling that all unhealthy food should be condemned?
Is it an abomination to eat some chocolate on Valentine’s Day, even though our jeans are getting a little tighter? Should we be food shamed if we don’t always eat organic? Does it say anything about who we are if, every so often, we choose processed or fast food? To this, I say, “Hell no!”
When it comes to food, or even relationships and careers for that matter, is it not okay to do something that makes you happy, even though it may not be (gasp) the best fit for your life?
After all, this isn’t the Truman Show, where everyone is secretly watching every bite, every step, every breath. The only one who cares about your gluten/lactose/carb free life is you. And if that life works for you, more power to you! But if you live an extreme, “no treats allowed” life, constantly striving for the perfect body, perfect family, perfect existence, and all it leaves you with is misery and an empty, growling stomach, then what is the point?
This is your life-so live it, not for perfection, but for enjoyment.
I am a firm believer that doing what is healthy for your body is just as important as doing what is right for your mind. And my mind is a big fan of the “everything in moderation” cliché.
Moderation is tasting a few pieces of chocolate from the box, but knowing when to put the lid back on when it’s no longer enjoyable. It is not extreme and doesn’t deprive you of anything. Moderation allows for health without squandering the fun. It replaces guilt with the simplicity of our choices. Moderation lets our minds relax without the pressure of being punished if we splurge on something we truly crave.
Of course, we have all pinched and tasted a piece of chocolate, only to find it filled with mystery goo that tastes like someone at the candy factory “accidently” combined coffee with a teaspoon of Robitussin. But we’ve also bit into that scrumptious piece of chocolate that we savored on our tongues, secretly wishing that the rest of the box was filled with only that kind. Taking chances and trying each piece of chocolate is addictive, a rite of passage as a woman, and according to Forrest Gump, a life lesson.
So I leave you with this. Don’t punish yourself for not being able to fit into a certain size bikini this summer. Don’t talk yourself out of something that makes you smile just because there are a few naysayers who live their lives more stringently. Don’t live in a way that deprives you of your happiness-whatever that means for you.
Instead, rock what you’ve got, permit yourself to let go, be imperfect. And when Valentine’s Day rolls around, make sure to squeeze every piece of chocolate in that heart-shaped box until you find the one you love.
*This piece was published on Reality Moms on February 1, 2017.