Three Day Free Day

In an effort to not be too perfectionist about my nutrition, I will usually allow myself a “free” meal or treat once a week.  Usually it’s not too crazy, just something that usually doesn’t really fit into my nutrition plan because it’s really carb-heavy or higher in fat.  That something can be a piece or two of pizza (depending on the size of the piece), a cupcake or two, or a serving of a mayo-based salad.

I’ve learned from doing Body-for-Life in the past that a free day to me is ultimately my downfall.  I could easily undo an entire week’s worth of work in one 24 hour period.

My biggest hurdle in losing weight and keeping a healthy diet is self-control.  It was not unheard of for me to finish off a bag or chips, or eat half a pizza, or plow through a bag of cookies.  Because of this (and sadly my kids have the same tendency) I rarely keep junk food in the house and keep even tortilla chips to a minimum.

Well last weekend I made a sheetcake for my brother-in-law’s party and I had a decent amount of icing left over and I promised the kids I would make cupcakes.

I totally didn’t think that through.  One recipe is 24 cupcakes.  My husband doesn’t eat them so that works out to 8 cupcakes a person.  Now I have to give myself some credit for not just eating all eight in one sitting.  I did manage to spread it out over three days.  But those three days I didn’t track my food and I actually rebelled a bit against even paying attention to what I ate.

You know what?  I didn’t die, gain 20 pounds in three days, or go on a complete food bender.  I had cupcakes for breakfast for three days and then had some salty snacks.  But I’m back.  Sure I can make excuses and blame monthly hormones or something, but you know what?  I actually showed some restraint and I’m going to celebrate that.

Perfectionism has it’s place.  It is not in living a healthy lifestyle.  If all I feel is deprived and suffer intense and intensifying cravings without giving in a little, all I am doing is setting myself up for an epic fail.  The trick to it all is balance, and not throwing in the towel and going on a massive binge all because I ate three cupcakes in one sitting.

And you know what?  I feel focused and motivated again.  These little free meals or days have their purpose.  Part of it is to allow myself to enjoy some treats, but another part is to remind myself what that food does to me and how I feel after eating it.  Honestly, I felt a little bloated and mentally I was foggier, but it’s a fantastic reminder to eat clean and healthy for the majority of the time, and that is what I call success.

 

(EDIT:  I realize this probably seems a little incongruent – or not – following a post about baking a cake!)

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Henna Inspired Cake

So my brother-in-law calls me on Thursday to ask if I can make a cake to feed 40 people for Saturday afternoon.  I immediately say yes, hang up the phone, and realize I have no idea how I’m going to do this.

Thankfully, the Wilton Tent Sale is going in full swing, so I grab my mom and head out at 9 am Friday morning to buy a few cake pans, some icing coloring and a few other odds and ends.  I get  home and get cracking.  I decided I would bake and torte two 12″ square cakes, one yellow and one chocolate, then put them together to make one enormous sheet cake.

After rigging together a few cake boards with a plastic cutting board for support, I get to work on assembly.  Torting was, uh, interesting.  no matter what kind of tools or tricks that are supposed to make it easier, it is always a challenge to make the layers level and even.  Still, it was better than I expected.  I filled the layers, crumb coated the cake and went to my daughter’s skating lesson.  Upon our return I finished icing the cake and using the Viva paper towel method, did my best to make a smooth, even surface for my line decorations.

I had spent most of Thursday evening researching and sketching out different henna patterns.  After figuring out which ones I wanted to use I sketched out a basic plan in my notebook.  I went over it with marker to get an idea of what it would look like in color.

Cake Sketch

Now I was ready to decorate, but I hadn’t yet settled on a color.  I wanted to stay away from colors that were too dark considering it’s nearly summertime, so burgundy and dark green were out.  It was a cake for two guys and a girl, so colors like pink and purple were out.  I wanted it appetizing so I voted out brown (even though real henna is more brown than anything).  I settled on some sort of orange.  I started coloring the piping icing and at first it was too pink so I added some yellow.  Ugh, now it was too….fleshy.  So I slowly added some orange and copper until I settled on the color shown.  I started with the pattern on top.

Turns out I’m nearly as shaky as a Parkinson’s patient while trying to do intricate linework, so I tried to modulate my breathing and just look at it as sketching.  Without being able to erase.

Gulp!

After about 1.5 hours I was done with the line work and completed the lettering.

Henna-look Cake

It was starting to get late (about 8 pm) when I started the border.  I didn’t think it would take too long but it turns out that to do intricate work on 72 linear inches takes quite a bit of time.

Border Detail

Everyone was thrilled with the cake and I was happy I had an opportunity to play creatively.