It's that time of year when people start talking about the dreaded 'Holiday Weight Gain'. That's how they say it, too - in verbal capital letters.
For a lot of people it starts with Halloween candy. First the candy bought a couple of weeks before that never makes it to Halloween, then the replacement candy, then the post Halloween candy and then the post-post Halloween candy from the sales.
About the time that is gone, it's Thanksgiving. Before the leftovers are even finished, it's on the the holiday parties, the Christmas cookies and other gifts of the baked or fermented kind.
For that most part, that's how it's gone in my house, too. Mostly. We still have loads of Halloween candy that remains untouched, I had a wonderful Thanksgiving meal with two kids of pie, and in the past two weeks I've been gifted with multiple tins of candy, cookies and fudge. And I've eaten some of it all. Yet somehow, my weight is down a half pound.
It doesn't really surprise me. I've read many times that the actual gain during the holiday season is about 3/4 of a pound, though most people think it's about 5-10. Maybe for some it is.
I remember years, though, when I did gain weight. I think it's no coincidence that those were my 'dieting' years. The years of the all or nothing 'I'veblownitsoImayaswellwhateverIwanttogetitoutofmysystemandstartovertomorrow' thinking. Only there were usually a lot of tomorrows before I started over.
I have a vivid memory of one year when I was 'good' at Christmas, and ate nothing but plain turkey, and vegetables - no gravy, butter and certainly no cookies or pie. I remember feeling very virtuous. But afterwards I began to feel cheated - everyone else ate what they wanted and enjoyed their food...and in spite of it, I didn't even lose any weight. I wanted to make up for everything I missed out on, starting with the cookies and pie.
I won't go into detail. If you've been there, you know how it goes. If not, you probably already think it's nuts, but when you're in the middle of it, it's tough to think straight.
Now that I don't diet, it's much simpler. I eat a bit of what appeals to me. If I really like it, I'll eat more. If not, I won't. If I really don't like it, I won't finish the first bit.
Choosing to eat what I like is easy. Stopping wasn't always so easy, and sometimes it's still difficult. But most of the time I'm able to stop when I feel full. Sometimes I get a little too full, but not painfully so.
It's a learning process, and it takes time. When ever I think I've got a long way to go, all I have to do is listen to the dieters talking this time of year. They dread all the gifts of cookies and fudge, fear the parties, groan at the expected weight gain and anticipate the microwaved diet meals with which they will welcome the new year.
And I realize I am no longer part of this, and it's then I realize how far I have really come.