Monday, January 3, 2011

Eat, Drink and be Merry… for Tomorrow we Diet


            I’ve never been a big fan of New Year’s resolutions. If you want to change something in your life, just do it. Why wait for some special date on the calendar. Besides, most resolutions involve giving up some form of comfort—food, nicotine, sitting around on your butt. Who wants to do that during the darkest, coldest time of the year? One of my favorite bloggers (who happens to be my niece) once wrote, “I think January is a terrible time to resolve anything. January is cold. January is long. January is when you lie in bed and eat pie.” The only resolution I ever really enjoyed keeping was one I made before my children were born. I decided to stop buying boring underwear. That was a fun resolution—but I didn’t even keep that one for long. A few months later I was wearing maternity underwear.
This year, however, my physician has told me that I need to drop fifteen pounds. Normally, if given medical advice, I follow it immediately. It’s one thing when your favorite jeans are snug.  It’s another thing altogether when your weight raises your physician’s eyebrows. My dad had his first angioplasty when he was in his mid-fifties and his father never saw sixty-five. I take heart health very seriously. Since Dr. M’s orders came mid-way between Thanksgiving and Christmas, I went home and started making fudge instead of starting a diet. I don’t diet at Christmas. I enjoy myself. I eat prime rib and apple pie on Christmas Day and my Aunt Diane’s meatballs and my uncle Brad’s chicken cutlets on Christmas Eve and my husband’s rugelach whenever no one is looking. I wash it all down with red wine or bourbon. I. Love. Christmas.
            Now even the beef and barley soup made from the bones of the Christmas roast are gone. It’s time to follow doctor’s orders. Exercise won’t be a problem. I love putting in time at the gym. I love getting sweaty and really earning a long hot shower. I really like being able to do more push ups than some of the big scary looking muscle heads at the Y. Sadly, I can’t out-push-up the muscle heads these days. For a variety of excuses reasons I haven’t been my exercise fanatic self for the past few months. In addition to not being quite so svelte, I’m also not as strong as I was a year ago and that bothers me more than anything. I’m also not as fast. I ran a 5K on Thanksgiving and added eight minutes to my time since my last 5K two years ago. Eight minutes—plenty of people can run a mile in that time (not me of course—maybe if I were being chased by a gun-toting bear I could run that fast for a whole mile).
            My challenge is going to be food. You know how some people say their weakness is sugar or chips or fried foods. My weakness is… food. All of it. I can’t stand the idea of giving up a particular food group like carbs or fat. If I give myself too many rules, I’m going to break them. I think I’ve found my best bet. The editors of Prevention magazine have come up with a book called The 400 Calorie Fix. The idea is pretty simple. You get to eat four, 400-calorie meals a day or three 400-calorie meals plus two snacks that equal 400 calories. 1,600 calories a day is a long way from deprivation and still a big enough cut from the way I’ve been eating. Mixing that with a renewed commitment to working out should get me started. I’ll let you know how it goes. But I promise not to be one of those people who talk about nothing besides their diet. But I’ll tell you this, the minute I can do more push-ups than the guys at the gym, I’m telling everyone.