This summer I am enrolled in a class where I have to work in a student-run café from 8:30 AM to 2:00 PM Tuesday through Friday. It’s definitely a lot of work and makes me appreciate all of the people who work in food service full-time. There’s different rotations as a part of the class and right now I’m in Bakery, which is definitely the most fun so far. I feel like a little house elf making cookies and I love it. A huge component of the class is tasting what we are making, not only for fun, but also as a learning process. The other day I probably ate three cookies’ worth of cookie dough to make sure I had done things like added enough margarine, mixed it for long enough, etc. Am I risking salmonella? Yes. Is it worth it? Double yes.
Since class ends at 2 PM, we also eat the leftovers for our lunch. Some days it’s mixed veggies with grilled chicken, and some days it’s grilled cheese with tomato soup and chicken strips. We don’t really get to choose. I have no say in what I eat for lunch, or the amount of butter put on the grilled cheese. I don’t get to count calories or track the amount of carbs in the chicken strip breading, I just eat. And honestly, it’s pretty freakin’ refreshing.
If I had taken this class two years ago I would have had a minor freak out about the fact that taking this class means letting go of all control. I would have feared that the butter-drenched vegetables would make me gain weight, or that eating a cookie I baked would mean I had to spend an extra thirty minutes on cardio later. It would have taken all joy out of this class and replaced it with stress.
Letting go of control this summer has allowed me to enjoy the class more than I thought I would. The Oreo truffle brownies that I baked on Friday? I ate one! I didn’t think for a second about calories, because I was too busy being proud of myself for doing it. By accepting my lack of control, I’ve gotten to experience the joys that new situations and environments can bring.
There’s so many situations in life where we have to let go of this control- like when we travel, when we go out to eat, or if you’re like me, when you’re in a major that centers around food. It can be hard to accept the unknown, especially if you’re Type A like me. At the end of the day, it all comes down to seeing the moment for what it is- just a moment. A day of flying and airport food isn’t going to set you back on your weight loss journey, and a summer of eating cookie dough and unknown café lunches isn’t going to affect my health. Can both situations leave you feeling a little bloated and thrown off routine? Definitely. But will it really make a difference in the big picture of things? No.
When I studied abroad in Greece, there was a night where we literally had cheese and wine for dinner. Cheese and wine, people! I could have counted the gigantic amount of calories in my head, but I didn’t. In that moment, it wasn’t the calories that mattered, but the new culture that I was experiencing with all new people. By being able to let go of my need for control, I was able to discover how great the moment itself was.
In a world where control equates to power, it can be difficult to accept that not all situations allow us full control over our diet and exercise. But if we find it in ourselves to embrace new situations, we just may find that this lack of control can shift our focus to even bigger and better things.
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