BY: Linda O'Connell
It's all right letting yourself go, as long as you can get yourself back.
For 11 months I eat sensibly, but every December my willpower disappears. I stand by the oven like a child watching the minutes tick away on the timer. I anxiously await the first batch of gooey melted chocolate chip cookies and homemade peanut butter delights with crisscross patterns. I know if I indulge myself my belly will bulge and my pants will get snug. I eat them anyway. Not just two cookies with a cup of coffee, but two handfuls. And not just at breakfast or in the evening in front of the television, but for two full weeks, every time I pass the cookie jar.
At the end of a fun-filled Christmas Day, I dispense the leftover holiday cookies, cakes and pies to our four adult children and grandchildren.
"Take them with you. We're swearing off the sweets." Like the birds that return each spring with their melodious calls, I sing the same familiar tune as I vow to return to healthy eating: It's over; I'm finished; I mean it!
This December 27th I reached into the freezer and opened the box of veggie burgers. I removed one plastic-wrapped peanut butter cookie. I stashed the other five back under the patties. Guiltily I remembered my new mantra: "a moment on the lips, a lifetime on the hips." I decided to eat one for each hip, to even them out. I took my time and slowly nibbled my cookies. I knew the remaining four delectable delights wouldn't last much longer, so I planned to wean myself off them. I'd have one a day for four more days, then a new year -- a new beginning.
I awoke hungry on January 1st, the other four cookies a fond memory. Time to reform and I meant it this time! I reached for the box of oatmeal -- no sugar for me. I doused that pot of roughage with cinnamon, and sweetened it with blueberries. Right then and there, I vowed to start my antioxidant regimen and my exercise routine.
While my oatmeal was cooling, I decided to go for the gold; climb the flight of basement steps a couple of times, get my motor running, set my metabolism a notch higher, get a head start on the calories. I flew down the steps three times. No problem. The third ascent I dragged myself back up, huffing and puffing. I caught my breath, opened the cupboard door, but all of our cereal bowls were in the dishwasher. I reached to the back of the cabinet and snatched a faded, yellow plastic bowl. Three unwrapped chocolate chip cookies fell out. I salivated like one of Pavlov's dogs and stuffed an entire stale cookie in my mouth. My husband walked into the kitchen while I was on all fours. "What's for breakfast?" he asked.
"Shoatmeal," I mumbled with a mouthful of calories waiting to slide permanently towards my happily wagging tail end. I chewed frantically and considered tossing the remaining rock-hard cookies into the trash. But I couldn't do it. I decided coffee would make them palatable. After I ate that last cookie I vowed that would be the end. It was time to get on track. But I procrastinated and made excuses: The treadmill's in the basement and then I have to hike back up those stairs. The weather's too cold to walk outdoors. I don't have enough time to walk at the mall or recreation center before work, and I'm too tired after work.
As of this writing, my cookie stash is long depleted and I am starting to think about spring. Before I know it, I'll be ditching my comfy sweat suit and donning a new bathing suit. In anticipation of that purchase (it will be a size smaller, not a size larger) I have been taking baby steps towards my weight-loss goal of 10 pounds. Once I achieve that goal, I'll work on the other 10 pounds. I know better than to expect the thin me who lives within this chubby body to reappear like magic. It will take time to coax her out from all that padding. I've been padding myself with propaganda: A couple of cookies won't make a difference. Tomorrow you can exercise. Love the skin you're in. With age comes weight gain. Your butt's not THAT big.
The way I see it, at least from the rearview in my full-length mirror, my butt IS that big and carrying belly fat makes me look pregnant. If I attain my first weight-loss goal, I'll be ridding myself of this 10-pound baby I call Chubby. Then I'm going to work on his 10-pound twin, Blubber. These days, instead of sitting at work after I eat lunch, I walk. Instead of lying supine on the couch after I get home from work, I sit up and use a weighted flex ball to do leg lifts and arm exercises. I tune out my screaming knees and take those basement steps three times, twice a day. When I open the fridge, I pull out the gallon of milk and raise it over my head a few times. I dance the dinner dishes to the table; I high-step down the hall. When my hubby finds me on the floor, I'm not retrieving cookie contraband, I'm coaxing my body to bend and stretch. So what if I have to roll to get up? At least I'm working on my rolls.
I'm starting small; my goals are realistic. I may not hike a trail, but I am hiking myself off the sofa and I'm starting to move. My small steps are paying off. In less than five weeks, I've lost five cookie-pounds. Like the song birds that will be returning soon, I'm singing a new tune. And yes, this time I mean it!