Tag Archive | dieting

Five Christmases, a Birthday, a Broken Finger, and a Virus

The title of this post is the answer to the questions:

1) How were your holidays?

2) Why haven’t you posted to your blog in such a long time?

We had five separate Christmas get-togethers. The evening after the first one, I fell in a parking lot and broke my pinky finger. Going with my upbringing (If there is no blood and no bones sticking out, you’re fine!) I continued the holidays wondering vaguely why my finger hurt so much.

The day after actual Christmas, I hosted a 65th birthday party/roast for a friend who has had a rough year. You can’t go wrong with 20 old friends and Threadgill’s comfort food. Then it was off to Longview for the last Christmas and to see our family there.

Every bit of all this was a blast. We had wonderful holidays and I wouldn’t have changed a thing. The first day back from the trip it was time, however, to get the finger checked out. Eight days after the fall I found out it had a hairline fracture. No wonder it hurt.

New Years came and went, and two days later I was wrestled to the ground by a virus. It had the earmarks of flu but no fever, so I just had to tough it out for two weeks with over the counter medicine. It ended the day the cedar pollen went through the roof, which landed me back in bed.

Okay, enough already. I am finally well and anxious to get back to my life. And back to my writing. My pinky finger can finally hit Enter without too much pain, and I’m ready to go forward.

One benefit of the illness, I was able to restart my diet. I had turned into an eating machine over the holidays, but that all changed with two weeks in bed. I’m pleased to report my stomach has adjusted to Small Bird Diet II, and I’m on my way to whipping my figure back into shape.

I’ve been fighting the battle of the bulge my whole life. I was a fat baby, child, and teenager. As an adult, my weight roller coastered so much, I collected enough different sizes of clothes to start my own thrift shop. But one of my New Year’s resolutions is to declare war on my body, get control of my weight this year and keep it under control. My other resolution is to cut back to three or four Christmases next year.

So if you haven’t seen or heard from me in a while, now you know why. But I’M BACK! Pull up your socks and tune in for adventures in 2014.

High Resolutions

Christmas is over and it’s time for me to deal with my annual will power outage. We still have to get through New Year’s, but except for blackeyed peas, it’s a non-fattening holiday. It’s no wonder most of my resolutions for the new year pertain to eating, or rather not eating, and losing weight accrued between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

I have learned, however, to be realistic in making these resolutions, lest I stack up a pile of failures before the year even gets off the ground. Take it slow, take it easy, open one eye, a tentative toe in the water. Small victories are still posted in the win column. Here is my annual list of resolutions I think I can handle.

I will…

  1. …not buy bigger clothes, especially underwear. Being uncomfortable is great motivation to lose weight.
  2. …not wear baggy clothes, even if the tight ones make me look like the Michelin Man’s girlfriend.
  3. …reacquaint myself with the wonders of kale. Temporarily banished from my kitchen for the holidays, Big K  is back in town.
  4. …show people at least as much patience as I show my dogs.
  5. …call at least one friend per week to catch up, and not just monitor their lives voyeuristically on FaceBook.
  6. …dust something every day.
  7. …work to become a better writer by writing more and better.
  8. …remember to take my reusable bags into the grocery store with me every time.
  9. …check the care label in clothes before I buy them, and put back anything “dry clean only” or “hand wash, dry flat.”
  10. …stop rationalizing why I need to buy a new outfit, eat a doughnut, or watch one more episode of an NCIS marathon.

Some people may think I’ve lowered the bar a bit too much, but I say, “Baby steps, people!” If these resolutions work out this year, I’ll consider upping the ante next year, and the next, and the next. With any luck at all, I’ll pass on before I have to  do anything too strenuous, like climbing Mt. Everest or walking the entire Houston Galleria.

Feel free to use my resolutions or come up with your own. Be realistic, circumspect, and flexible. And by all means, let me know if you come up with some I can use next year.

Doin’ the Lighten-Up

What kind of country schedules four major annual holidays within a period of 60 days? Answer: America the Bootiefull. Every year we spend ten months a year trying to recover from and lose weight gained during two consecutive months of seasonal stuffing. Beginning with Halloween and ending with New Years, traditional holiday goodies are more trick than treat, more jowl-ly than jolly.

Actually, even if you don’t eat a lot of holiday goodies, the odds are you’re ingesting thousands more calories than usual for you. This is because holiday foods were invented by people who thought butter, sugar, and eggs constituted their own food group. What other time of the year can you consume a 2” cookie containing more calories than the daily allotment for an NFL linebacker?

Over the years, I’ve become adept at lightening up my mother’s holiday recipes. Believe me, it can be done and without altering the flavor. Most of the ingredients I substitute are empty calories you never miss. For instance, replace eggs with egg substitute, and in some cases, melted butter with reconstituted Butter Buds™. These two changes function beautifully in Mama’s dressing, eliminating a truckload of calories, a blessing because I haven’t figured out how to lighten up the cornbread and dried white bread. Applesauce can be substituted for oil in baked goods, which brings my pumpkin bread into the realm of reason. As I mentioned in my Thanksgiving blog, killer pies can be replaced by manslaughter mini-pies, eliminating much booty-bound fat.

My point is, if you just think about it, you can probably lighten up your family’s traditional recipes, too, and even your crabbiest relatives will never know the difference. It’s unrealistic to expect people to pass up holiday foods in favor of a sensible diet, but you can minimize the impact with a few simple changes. And when you’re finished, you won’t feel so much like that stuffed turkey.

I’m still working on lightening the menu for Christmas and New Year’s Day. I haven’t decided whether our traditional Christmas chili will be a tasty vegetarian version or made with lean bison in lieu of beef. The tamales will certainly be of the vegetarian or chicken variety. (You don’t really want to know what the traditional ones are made from anyway.) And as for my New Year’s blackeyed peas, I can’t do much about those calories, once I eliminate the slab bacon my mother cooked with hers. I’m open to suggestions.

So do your family and yourself a favor this year. Do the lighten-up with those holiday recipes, before your clothes do the tighten-up. You won’t be deprived of the holiday munch-down, and you’ll feel a lot better afterwards.


Live Free or Diet

Dieting at any time stinks, but pre-holiday dieting is the worst. You self-deprive to get ready for upcoming orgies of high-calorie delights. I’m currently sacrificing for Thanksgiving (November 21), Christmas (December 25), New Years (January 1), and St. Patrick’s Day (March 17). I just finished up pre-holiday dieting for Juneteenth (June 19), the Fourth of July (July 4), National Left-Handers Day (August 13), Stepfamily Day (September 16), Halloween (October 31), and Guy Fawkes Day (November 5). It’s a never-ending struggle.

I once read a quote by Linda Ronstadt: “The figure my body maintains naturally went out of style the year I was born.” My natural build went out with those plump, pudgy, and poochy Renaissance babes draped over settees, surrounded by dogs and grapes. So I diet, I splurge, and I go back to dieting. That interim splurge is as inevitable as the penitent return to Spartan fare. I know the lapse is inevitable, because no matter how hard I try, I can’t convince myself that kale tastes better than gingerbread pancakes.

Undoubtedly we humans are hard-wired to associate eating with comfort and love. As babies we wolf down mother’s milk or formula and drift off into blissful sleep. As adults we do the same with Thanksgiving dinner, lucky to finish the dishes before we lose consciousness. Eating your fill is the way of life on the savanna; it’s unfortunate it doesn’t translate to the suburbs.

Exercise is key. I blame the development of farming for my problem. When we started gathering more than we hunted, it was all downhill from there. Undeniably, there’s nothing like bulldogging a mastodon to rip a six-pack or levitate a bottom-lift.

I was never very athletic in my youth, and I expected to stay that way as I aged. Unfortunately, my husband had a penchant for forced marches and Hannibalesque mountain crossings on foot. I managed to hang in there for quite a while, but after a trip to Big Bend, transecting the Chisos Mountains, my knees rebelled. A couple of surgeries later, my knees make sounds usually associated with a need for WD-40. My doctor has told me not to do exercises involving walking, and I’m left to ponder the effectiveness of deep finger-bends.

As the days wind down toward Thanksgiving, I’m trying to figure out how to lighten my mother’s recipes, which were developed by women who believed lard was good for you. For one thing, I’m making just enough this year for Thanksgiving Day and one day of leftovers. That will eliminate several days of guzzling what is supposed to be a one-time, special occasion munch-down.

The main challenge is desserts. There’s just no way to cut calories in pie, so I’ve decided to cut the pie, literally. This year we will have miniature pies, little two- and three-bite versions of the traditional Killer Pumpkin Pie and Death-by-Mincemeat. The trick is to eat them the right way. Never pop one in your mouth for a snack. Sit down with it. Give it your full attention. Appreciate the cute factor. Take a small, tentative bite. Concentrate on the kaleidoscope of flavors that burst forth on your tongue—and then disappear.

Truly, if you blink you will miss it, so don’t blink. Savor it, enjoy it, and turn away. The next day you won’t feel as guilty. And you may even convince yourself how uncannily tofu tastes like pumpkin pie. Possible, but not likely.