Youth and the holidays go together like ice cream and cake. Middle age and the holidays are more a blend of serrated-knife cuts and lemon juice.
It’s an important consideration for those who relent to getting older because both are so inevitable.
And on a scale of one to 10 pounds, the holidays will be weighing in heavy around Jan. 13. That will be the first time I dare to step on a scale after nine solid weeks of unbridled hedonism. The dreaded day is Monday, Jan. 13 because only young fools start a diet on New Year’s Day. And anyone with any dieting experience or a warm frontal lobe can tell you that it takes well into January to clean the house of uneaten pfeffernüsse, cheese balls and chocolate-covered pistachio nut rings. By the time the eggnog-coconut tres leches cake and tiramisu ice cream is gone, it’ll be Friday, Jan. 9. Diets started on Fridays are just recipes for Saturday’s biscuits-and-gravy extravaganzas. So Monday, Jan. 13, is when I will regain control of my pie hole and assess the damage in the privacy of my own bathroom.
It’s pretty much a needless ritual because I’ll know just how bad things will have gotten since days before Christmas. It was at a friend’s house for drinks that I will realize I can no longer comfortably sit in the big-boy jeans I’d moved into just after Thanksgiving. You know the ones. “Relaxed Fit” stamped where nobody else can see shouts to the rest of the world, “wide load and puffy thighs that rub together when you walk.” These are jeans that normally benefit greatly from you squatting in the closet so the stretchy waistband stretches to its outer limits and you can breathe a little and eat much, much more.
And it’s all about more from the time the bell rings on Thanksgiving Day. Promises that the more you eat, the more you’ll exercise to minimize — in your dreams, you actually entertain the fantasy that you can lose some weight — the increase in girth as you nosh your way to life in a bathrobe. By New Year’s Eve, after finishing the 30-pound tin of Danish Butter Cookies (which taste nothing like butter and would insult any Dane), I stand on my front porch barking orders at strangers looking and sounding like Big Daddy from Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.
“What’s that smell? Is that the smell of mendacity about how long until that coffee cake is ready?”
Take a breath. Quit sighing. It doesn’t have to be this way. I’m not talking about seeking out “substitute” post-holiday goodies for people who just can’t get enough good in their lives. That’s all just so much crazy crap. Those would be monstrosities like “fat free butter cookies” or “reduced calorie fudge” that are not only vile tasting, but require you to eat them all in hopes that quantity will improve your sense of satisfaction since the quality doesn’t stand a chance.
So rather than eat 300 calories worth of real fudge, and then curse the fates and your tight pants, you end up eating 900 calories worth of diet fudge, and then chase that down with several hundred calories worth of coffee-flavored potato chips. Everybody knows that sweet and salty must be consumed as alternating foils, ending with salty before noon and sweet after 8 p.m. Between those hours, peanut-brittle followed by cream-cheese filled pretzel bites dipped in ranch dressing somersault across your taste buds until someone mercifully comes along and takes it all away from you.
So, no. Don’t think you can reduce-calorie your way to resembling your thinner self. This is a job for exercise.
No, not the lying kind of exercise where you tell yourself that walking a few blocks for ice cream defuses the caloric time bomb such a treat sets off in your metabolism. I’m talking about your worst nightmare: getting up early and moving really, really fast for at least an hour without hardly stopping at all. Yeah, it makes me gasp a little, too. You pretty much have to do the early thing because not even Trump lies like the fool who says to himself in a big, white bathrobe: “I’ll exercise when I get home from work.” Oh, the mendacity.
Pigs will take flight long before your big butt will after work, pal.
So here’s the deal. Eat whatever the hell you want between now and Doomsday on Jan. 13, 2020, just honestly record what you inhale on any diet-dreamer website that records your sloth and caloric chaos. MyFitnessPal.com, LoseIt.com and others are free and effective ways to ruin your day by keeping you honest. The bottom line is, unless you spend 14 hours a day in the 10-foot section of a swimming pool, you can’t possibly move enough to offset the load of toffee, hot-buttered rum and duck-liver pate you’ve been stuffing yourself with these past few, many, several, encompassing, decades.
Which brings me to where that lemon juice now does its magic on the freshly severed skin on your fingers: You’re going to have to cut back next year because you’re too old to eat like that. It will take you until this time next year to lose enough weight to start it all again. Or, there’s a whole new line of comfort clothing that looks like blue jeans and dress pants but is actually stretchy comfort wear with a roll-proof comfy waist band that hides conveniently under a large sweater. No one will know.
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