When Decadence Makes Sense

When Decadence Makes Sense

published in Fort Wayne Magazine

Just go have an elephant ear already.

It’s festival season in Fort Wayne, and I know you’ve heard 100 stories about fattening food and healthier options. But at the risk of losing my gig as the In Shape columnist, I’m telling you to eat an elephant ear, a deep-fried Snickers, a chili dog or whatever really, really, sends you.

After all, half the fun of a festival is decadent dining. Few anticipate the music, the merriment and a salad – unless it’s the potato salad at Germanfest.

The trick is to just eat one of what you really want. Then you won’t want it anymore, you won’t feel deprived and you won’t eat a tub of Ben and Jerry’s One Sweet Whirled when you get home.

Remember to compensate, too. Don’t warm up for the festival by starting your day with a doughnut and downing a burger at lunch. Eat the salad earlier.

There are also plenty of ways to burn a little extra wiggle room in your caloric count. None of these is going to amount to much more than two bites of that deep-fried Snickers, so don’t use it as an excuse to eat more. We’re aiming for a tiny bit of damage control. So lace up your sneakers, grab a napkin and make the rounds…

Park really far away.

For the love of Pete, please stop stalking the nice people walking to their car and quit wasting gas circling the block so you can take 42 fewer steps to your feeding frenzy. If you’re attending a festival, chances are it’s because the weather is pleasant. Park so far away you can’t hear the bingo announcer anymore and strike up a brisk pace as you anticipate the Chicken Dance (more on that next).

Get into the swing of things.

Get over your two left feet, find an out-of-the-way spot and move to whatever groove fits your festival, whether it be the aforementioned Chicken Dance at Germanfest, maybe a teen or square dance at Hoagland Days or the Highland Dance at the Indiana Highland Games (just don’t interfere with the serious competitors).

Mow before you go.

Zip around the lawn and elevate your heart rate. Your metabolism stays higher for a bit after the actual effort, helping chew up the sugar and fat a little faster. (This only works if you have a push mower; riding in circles does not count.)

Chug a power drink, too.

Water – it’s so refreshing and so good for you. Who needs anything else? Often, we eat because we really are thirsty. Drink a glass of water before you leave the house. Then drink another. It will help you feel full, it will hydrate you in the hot sun, and it will take the edge off the salt saturating your festival treat.

Soak up the sum of the experience.

See the furthest corners of the festival. Ooh and aah over every handicraft, antique or artwork. Spend some time chatting with festival volunteers. Take the focus off the food. You’ll walk farther, eat less and likely learn something interesting along the way.

And that’s the real purpose of Fort Wayne’s bounty of festivals – a new experience. After all, you could make and eat elephant ears at home … not that I am recommending that!

Elephant ears add up

Staying fit while hitting all on northeast Indiana’s fabulous festival circuit takes some extra effort. Sign up for a community challenge and find the same sense of spirit and camaraderie that makes festivals so fun.

Fort Wayne Walks One Million Miles

Join the tail end of this spring’s inaugural event. You don’t have to catch up to reap the benefits of this powerfully motivating and promisingly simple program.

See www.fwsportscorp.org/ for details and a newsletter.

Fort Wayne Kids’ Marathon

Don’t let the name mislead you. This is a full-family challenge. One of just a few in the nation, this incremental marathon helps kids complete a marathon distance over the course of several weeks. Most moms and dads make laps, too, providing encouragement or trying to keep up.

Write kidsmarathon@verizon.net for more information.

Move to Improve

The Fort Wayne Parks and Recreation Department offers a host of activities at its pools, parks and nature centers, including guided hikes at Lindenwood Nature Preserve and opportunities to volunteer at Salomon Farm Learning Center. It also has developed a Move to Improve Web site – see the Parks, Facilities and Programs link at www.fortwayneparks.org – where you can find nutrition information and planned events.