I’m not afraid of food anymore. I was never scared by chocolate cake or candy bars in the same way I was terrified of the Gremlins, but I’ve definitely been exercising caution and hesitance around those substances the last couple years. Two Christmases ago I went to a Christmas gathering with my own grilled chicken breasts because, oh my God, there would be cheesecake there, and I might eat it. Aaaaah! This Christmas I went to the same gathering looking forward to all the sugar and refined carbohydrates I would be eating.
What’s changed? I know I can handle it now. When I was first learning new habits I was worried that any deviation from my plan could knock me off course. I wasn’t ready to knowingly indulge in pies and cookies. It was too early. But I’ve been doing this for awhile now and I know that eating a pumpkin roll and Italian Crème cake and the richest fudge brownie in existence for lunch one day is not going to doom me to a life of obesity. It will make me feel sleepy in the evening. It will cause me to gain a pound or two. And it will definitely make me think, “Woah, I cannot eat like that all the time.” But it’s also a lot of fun. I enjoy eating and I’m never going to apologize for that. There are only 3 or 4 times a year when I am surrounded by so many delicious desserts and treats. I have to take advantage of it when I can.
My philosophy towards the holidays this year has been, “Eat whatever the hell you want and just go run later.” Or as my older brother put it, it’s just easier to lose the weight afterwards than to try to resist. I’ve got to agree with him on that one. Maybe that won’t be true when I’m in my 50’s, but give me two or three weeks here and I’m sure I can get rid of whatever I’ve gained. While it was lots of fun to eat whatever I wanted for the past three days, I sure am relieved that the holiday eating season is now over for me. All that sugar makes me enter an altered state of existence where I feel lethargic and spaced out, almost like I’m on drugs.
I wouldn’t describe my feelings about such indulgences as “guilt.” I felt guilty about stealing a granola bar from the grocery as a child. I felt guilty for not cuddling my guinea pig enough in the years before she died. I felt guilty about damaging my brother’s copy of Catch-22 and trying to stall him until I could buy a replacement copy. The way I feel about eating a lot of food is not guilt. It’s vigilance. It’s something I’m aware of, something I know I need to take care of, but I’m not going to beat myself up over it. It’s the same way I feel when my laundry has piled up and the number of clean panties I have left is serving as a countdown to the point of no return. I just can’t go commando and I’m not going to turn my underwear inside out. Yet, I’ve never felt guilty about not doing my laundry. And I don’t feel guilty about eating a lot on the holidays, not as long as I take care of it later.
The one thing I might do differently next year is to tell myself to limit it to only a couple indulgences. That way I’ll end up eating several indulgences over what I intend to, and end up eating about as much as I’m okay with. It’s like telling someone who is chronically late to be someplace 15 minutes before you really want them to be there so they’ll actually get there on time. This year I told myself to eat whatever I wanted, and holy cow, I really did. I gave myself an inch and took a mile. I doubt anyone in my extended family cares what I eat at those gatherings, but if anyone is monitoring my food intake they must be really confused as to how I can eat like that and lose as much weight as I have. I usually only see them at the holidays and those are one of the few times I eat like a maniac.