I got through Hurricane Barry evacuation this summer without eating any of the hurricane snacks. I got through my birthday with only the tiniest piece of cake. I didn’t eat a single piece of my kids’ massive haul of Halloween candy, not even the Milky Way Darks, which they don’t like, which were therefore completely mine for the taking, and which are my absolute favorite. Thanksgiving and Christmas barely tempted me, despite the fact that my husband and I cooked up a storm for our family. I ate two Hershey Kisses on Valentine’s Day and left the rest for my coworkers with barely a twinge of regret.

I started a diet in July, and I’ve pretty much stuck to it. I am stubborn, driven, and have a freakish amount of willpower when I get my head in the right place – and I have lost more than 20 pounds since I decided I was finally ready to commit to losing weight.

Some of the changes have been easy – wraps instead of sandwiches, one piece of pizza instead of three – and some have been hard – turning down French fries, pretending zoodles are delicious and not complete bullshit compared to actual pasta. But overall, it’s been fine, and I have never felt hugely deprived to the point that I want to give up or binge-eat.

And then came Mardi Gras. After months of counting every calorie that went into my mouth, politely refusing cake at office celebrations, and ordering salad when I really wanted cheese fries … Sunday along the route found me double-fisting Popeyes chicken and a whiskey-and-full-calorie-Coke and then topping it off with caramel corn that my daughter caught from a float and deemed too sweet even for her.

Again, I didn’t go crazy over the traditional holidays, and yet here I was standing on the neutral ground stuffing King Cake in my face – and I don’t even like King Cake.

Maybe I feel more able to indulge because I know that’s the point of Mardi Gras, because I know Lent is right around the corner. When Lent comes (and it’s only about a week away), I’ll get back on the wagon. I’ll eschew potato chips with a firm hand; I’ll only have a glass of wine a day (if that!); I’ll eat my zoodles with a smile and say, “Honestly, these are even better than pasta because they’re just so light and fresh!”

Until then, though, I’m going to live it up. And if nothing else, the good thing about Carnival season is that I’m definitely hitting my step count goal!

See you on the route! (I’ll be the one drinking a beer with buffalo sauce on my chin.)