Catchy title, huh?
This brilliant insight occurred to me last week, and I have been mulling over ideas for a blog post about it.
The thought came to me while I was in the shower (isn’t that where most of life’s most profound ideas occur?)
Now, this idea is nothing new. Magazines give suggestions of ways to stay on track with exercise regimens while traveling. They begin printing tips and tricks to avoid holiday weight gain as early as October. They print “lightened up” recipes for our favorite holiday treats and alternatives to high calorie cocktails.
One thing that I think these recipe alterations omit is the importance of tradition. There is just something, especially during the holidays, about making that spaghetti sauce just the way your Tuscan grandmother used to make it. No ground chicken or turkey sausage. No apologies for using plain white spaghetti noodles instead of spaghetti squash. And if Grandma used to put a dash of sugar in her sauce, by golly, then so will you.
(The same goes for Abuela’s tres leches cake or Babcia’s pierogies.)
The mistake that we Americans tend to make is beginning our holiday celebrations around Halloween, carrying them through Easter, and then making a mad dash in May to try to prepare for “swimsuit season” only to be bombarded with graduation parties, Fourth of July celebrations, backyard barbeques and lapses while we are on vacation.
This “revelation” occurred to me while on the elliptical trainer. Matt Lauer from the “Today Show” was interviewing actress Kirstie Alley. Ms. Alley has spend decades on a weight-loss roller coaster. As a celebrity, she has faced more criticism about her struggles with weight loss than most of us can imagine. In the interview she mentioned that she was taking steps to lose weight again and had done a lot of soul searching. One thing she had discovered about herself was that she had an “extra-long” definition of the “holiday” season. This was a huge “Aha!” moment for me.
Looking back over the past year, I found that I had allowed myself the same type of leniency. Last year I worked hard physically and nutritionally to prepare for a race that I really wanted to run: the Army 10-Miler in Washington D.C. After months of training, I did it. On October 20th, 2013 I ran the ENTIRE TEN MILES without walking for a single step until I crossed the finish line.
And on October 21st, I decided it was holiday time. I hung up the running shoes, snarfed down the nearest package of “Ho-Ho’s” and began my slide back into feeling overweight and unhealthy.
I allowed myself far more leniency that ever before because “it was the holidays.”
Unfortunately, it wasn’t until well after St. Patrick’s Day that I realized what I had done. Oh, I was well aware of the fact that my clothes were fitting tighter (or not at all) and that I just didn’t feel as energetic as I had felt in the Fall. But I had buried my head in excuses:
“It’s New Year’s.”
“It’s the Super Bowl.”
“It’s Valentine’s Day.”
“Hubby is going out of town…I don’t have time to work out or cook healthy meals.”
“The kids’ schedules are crazy-busy.”
“It’s so-and-so’s birthday.”
“We have company…I don’t want to force them into my diet.”
“My friend wants to go get coffee.”
Etc., etc., etc.
Then, all of a sudden:
“It’s swimsuit season!”
And then I heard the little nugget of truth from Kirstie Alley. And it really resonated.
We are “celebrating ourselves fat.”
As I said before, I am all for keeping traditions, and passing down time honored recipes. But here in the United States we make a food-related celebration out of EVERYTHING. Big meals used to be reserved for truly special occasions. Going out to eat was indeed a treat, not a convenience.
So I decided that this little phrase would be my mantra: “I will not celebrate myself fat!” Now, I am not afraid of a few extra pounds. But I AM afraid of having no energy, feeling depressed, and not living this life that God gave me to the fullest. I have spent enough of my life that way and will not do that anymore.
When I celebrate, I will truly celebrate. I will enjoy my mom’s cookie recipes at Christmas. I will baste my Thanksgiving turkey with real butter, and lots of it. And I will savor every bite of Eagle Brand Lemon Meringue Pie at Easter. But I will not allow fast food Tuesdays, and macchiato Mondays to determine my health, my moods, or my wardrobe.
Celebratory food will be for celebrations. And the rest of the time, food will be fuel, not entertainment.
If I am carrying a few extra pounds, I won’t beat myself up. I will still work to get healthy again. I will even celebrate my fat self.
But I will no longer celebrate myself fat.