Trial By Fire… And Spice


     If you had told me a week ago that Mexican food would be my Achilles heel I probably wouldn’t have believed you. I like Mexican food, but I typically eat it only occasionally. We have a favorite restaurant in Radford, Mi Puerto  and seldom eat mexican food anywhere else. Since we no longer live in Radford, those visits are rare. Spicy latin foods are an occasional treat that I enjoy, but I don’t obsess about them. Or I didn’t, until this weekend.

     Our friend Bob just had a birthday. Happy Birthday Bob! We suggested that he and his wife let us take them to dinner to celebrate the occasion. When we asked where they would like to go, Bob’s wife suggested that we try the new El Rodeo in the First and Main Shopping Center in Blacksburg, Virginia. The dinner date was planned one week away. This, I thought, gave me plenty of time to prepare. As I sketched out my menu plans for the coming week, I paid special attention to the Sunday afternoon meal. I know that mexican food can be quite caloric with all of those yummy sauces and cheeses. I found a site online that listed calories for a handful of items on the El Rodeo menu. I used this site to outline a plan. I would order a two taco meal and split it with my husband. We would each eat 1 taco and 1/2 serving of refried beans and 1/2 serving of spanish rice. I had a plan. Success was within my grasp. All I needed to do was stick to the plan.

     I began Sunday morning on the right foot. I consumed a light, healthy breakfast. I stuck a 120 calorie pack of Teddy Grahams in my pocket to snack on between Sunday School and Church so I wouldn’t be starving at lunch time. I didn’t want to be overly hungry and thus more susceptible to “cheating”. I even followed thru and ate the snack.

     Inspite of all of that, I was pretty hungry by the time lunch rolled around. I had my resolve and my plan, though, so it was going to be just fine. THEN I entered the restaurant. We passed a table where a couple of folks we knew were enjoying a LARGE plate of fajita. My “regular” order at our Radford haunt is the fajita Nachos, smothered in a luscious white cheese. Now I was starting to waver, just a bit. I started thinking. Chicken, Onions, Peppers, those are all good for me, right? I could eat that. Then I pulled myself together. I have made a food choice that I will enjoy and know is within my calorie limits. I will stick to the plan.

     Bob and his wife arrived before us and had already been seated. They had requested that with the Nacho’s all 3 kinds of salsa be brougth to the table. That was the moment things changed for me.

     My #1 mexican food FAVORITE OF ALL TIME item is Salsa Blanca! I love it! I have been known to drive for miles to get it. Lately, however, most of the mexican restaurants in our area haven’t had it. I was beginning to think it was a thing of the past. I failed to take the possibility of being faced with Salsa Blanca into account when I calculated my calories. Now I had a problem.

     At first, I thought. “Ok, Sandee. Here is your test of will. Prove how strong you are. Don’t eat the Salsa Blanca!” Then I heard this kinder gentler voice say, ” You had declared that this time your weight loss efforts are about balance and  sustainable life change. This isn’t about deprivation. Are you going to GIVE UP Salsa Blanca? Remember, you tell people that they don’t have to live in a state of frustration in order to lose weight.” Sitting over a bowl of Salsa Blanca and not eating it is pictured somewhere as the definition of frustration, I’m sure of it!  At that point I amended the plan.

     I set a boundary. I know from viewing calories for food options at El Rodeo that 15 chips is considered a serving. 15 chips and regular salsa is 100 calories.  So I could safely assume that I could fit 15 chips in if I estimated them at 100 calories. I was way unsure of the calories in the Salsa Blanca, so I decided to go very lightly. I used just a little on the edge of each chip. This gave me enough of the object of my obsession to satisfy the desire for taste. Weight Watcher’s leader and Zumba Instructor Angel Chadwell reminded me recently that “Research has shown that it’s the first bite that gives us the most pleasure…” The rest of the chip would help cleanse the palette so that the next bite with Salsa Blanca would be a taste experience all over again. This way I could go home, get calories for Salsa Blanca and recalculate the calories in dinner and remaining snacks accordingly in order to stay within my goal range.

     Next, we started giving our orders and it became clear that Tony felt too hungry to just split a plate with me. No biggie. I told him to order his own and I would order an entire meal and take half home for later. Once everything arrived, it was so yummy that it was hard to stop at half. Staring at the second taco, half a serving of beans and rice, I wanted to finish it all. I stopped for a moment to evaluate if I was really still hungry. I wasn’t. So I stuck to my resolve and immediately requested a box. Yay me!

     You may think my trial was over, but no! Now I had leftovers to contend with. As evening approached those leftovers became more and more of an obsession. We had dinner plans with family for my brother-in-law’s birthday. Happy Birthday Brother-In-Law!  I had already arranged my remaining calories accordingly. BUT I WANTED THE TACO! Actually, to make it worse, it wasn’t one taco, rice, and beans. There was also Tony’s second taco (he ate all his rice and beans), and 1/2 of Katie’s Burritos Grande. They both bothered to box up their leftovers, but had both decided that the food would probably be “soggy” the next day and announced that they didn’t really intend to return to it. Now I had an abundance of mexican food depending on me not to waste it. What’s a girl to do?

     I stuck to the plan for the rest of Sunday but my mexican food kept calling to me. Monday morning I had mexican food for breakfast. Again, I don’t believe in frustration, if you have a craving, satisfy it in the healthiest way possible. I calculated the rest of the day’s calories to compensate for the change (just a few calories difference actually). On the third day I finished off Tony’s taco, actually pretty soggy and not so amazing by then. So, Katie’s burrito is going the way of the garbage.  For the moment, my obsession seems to have passed. That new restaurant is in walking distance, though, so I’m keeping the calorie count for Salsa Blanca (285 calories for 1/8 cup with 15 nacho chips) in my back pocket, just in case.

     What has been your greatest “trial by fire” so far? Was it the birthday cake or the pizza at the party? Maybe it’s the donuts at work or the hot dogs in the cafeteria at school. Take a moment and write about this in your “Inspiration Journal“. What did you do to overcome or what can you do next time to be more ready the next time a craving arrises or a temptation arrives?


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