LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. — Last week, I jauntily wrote about the success I was having with my diet, an effort that involves losing 10 pesky pounds that crept on over the summer. In a tone that might easily have been mistaken for boastful, I talked about how I was in Week Three of my weight-loss project and how I had started to feel wholly in control of my appetite. I could walk past the fridge without feeling weakened by it, could run on the treadmill and not feel like dying. I had lost 5 pounds and could see the light at the end of tunnel, a light that showed that I was slim, marvelous, a little smarter, funnier even, perhaps suddenly ambidextrous, fluent in a new language.
Oh, the trickster that is Week Three. Here I was, so confident, so sure that this three-week-old approach to food was my new permanent approach and that I could face any threat to my resolve. But then Labor Day weekend struck and everything went to pot.
In talking to my girlfriends this morning, I’ve become convinced Labor Day weekend is Enemy No. 1 for people who are trying to lose weight. You might think that title would be reserved for Thanksgiving or Christmas or even Halloween, holidays that celebrate rich food traditions. But I argue that at least the dieter knows what he or she is getting into during those food-based holidays - and magazines and blogs offer tips and support for how to get through those days with your diet intact. Labor Day weekend, by contrast, seems completely innocent. I mean what, after all, could happen on a day that is simply a celebration of the American labor movement? What could possibly be delicious about that?
A lot, I discovered. My husband and I decided last minute to head up to Louisville for the night in part to try out MilkWood. It is the new restaurant by Chef Edward Lee, who also runs 610 Magnolia and has become rather famous for his participation in “Iron Chef” and “Top Chef.”
Keep in mind, I was aware that part of the reason for the trip was to eat, but I decided I would just simply be well behaved during the day and then get to indulge in the evening. And so on Saturday, when we drove up, that’s exactly what happened - kind of. We had a sensible brunch, leisurely made our way to Louisville and arrived there at 5 on the dot, just in time for happy hour. Now, by then, I was pretty hungry. A couple of eggs and veggies can only sustain someone for so long. So we headed to Proof on Main for a cocktail, whereupon my husband William suggested we order an appetizer to sustain us until dinner, which was reserved for 8:15.
So what else were we supposed to do other than order the charcuterie plate? I mean, the pâtés and sausages were all made in-house using, hello, Kentucky-raised meat. My husband ordered it and a huge selection arrived on a wooden cutting board. You know you’ve ordered a lot of food when the chef decides, no, a plate simply isn’t sufficient to display the vast array of delicacies he’s offering; he needs a slab of wood.
Anyway, we dove in. I tried to keep myself in check, except I kept telling myself that this was essentially my lunch and not only did I deserve this, this was preventing me from over-eating later. Every expert always says if you eat breakfast, you actually end up eating less during the day, so surely the same logic must apply to lowly, old lunch, right? So I ate, and it was delicious.
Then it was time for dinner and it, unfortunately, was also delicious. The appetizers were delicious, the main courses were delicious and the dessert, yes dessert, also delicious. This trend continued through to the next day when we decided to extend our stay in Louisville until Monday. This day was also framed by some incredible meals, which I told myself I deserved because how, after all, could one day of indulgence make a big difference in the grand scheme things?
Then on Monday, we skipped breakfast and found Mojitos Tapas, an amazing restaurant that serves Latin small plates. Pork tacos, skirt steak with chimichurri, shrimp ceviche, empanadas, hummus and pita, we had them all and then, because I was having so much fun, I threw in a huge, frosty margarita for good measure.
By that point, my resolve was gone, but I kept telling myself, a), I had skipped breakfast and, b), I would just run extra when I got home. Note to self: You know you’re making the wrong choices when you start bargaining with yourself about how well behaved you will be later.
Then, as I was scooping up more hummus, I realized what the next day would entail: shredded wheat, a little sandwich, veggies for dinner. And I started scooping up more and faster, like a convict who was about to enter prison and be deprived for the next 5 to 7 years.
So here I sit this Tuesday: avoiding the scale like a hot stove, drinking tea, hungry, chastened, and realizing that Week Four has only begun.