When you’ve gained seven pounds in less than a month, you know you’ve had a heck of a good time in December. And, dear readers, I’m here to tell you I did. My lighthearted days were filled with everything delicious: cheese biscuits, cream cheese, bagels and lox, pierogi, meat pie, bread, bread and more bread, stuffing, fudge, thumbprint cookies, rice pudding.

And, of course, a whole mountain (Rocky-style, not Smokies) of mashed potatoes and gravy. I’ve actually thought about writing an entire column about just how much I love the combo, an ode that would begin, “To my greatest love of all.” In fact, this past month, I actually conducted an experiment to see whether or not I would tire of ‘taters by eating them nearly exclusively for every meal for five days.

I suppose I can say the experiment was a success since I was able to come to a conclusion. Which was that I didn’t. Tire of them, I mean. In fact, I could have a big plate of them right now.

Of course, now that it’s the beginning of January, it’s time to get real with these seven pounds, which, let’s face it, join the four from Thanksgiving that I never shed.

My goal is to acknowledge that I wholeheartedly celebrated the season, that it was worth it, but that it’s also worth it to be able to wear my clothes again.

See, for the past week, I’ve been reduced to wearing yoga pants that only fit because they’re 15 years old and stretched out. I have three pairs of them (best purchase I ever made), and they’ve been in constant circulation. I actually tried wearing a pair of jeans a few days ago, with the hope that their tightness and resulting discomfort might encourage me not to overeat. But then my best friend Kristin brought out a pumpernickel bread bowl filled with 1970s-style spinach dip and, before I knew it, I was unabashedly pulling off pieces of the actual bowl to use as vessels for more dip.

That’s another reason for my phenomenal gain. I didn’t see my family until the 27th, so my Christmas season was considerably extended. Two days after I’d served my own Christmas dinner, I was in Winnipeg eating my mom’s and then all of my favorite foods from Winnipeg. To put it in perspective for you, I actually bought a beet-red t-shirt from Bernstein’s Deli that says, “cabbage borscht.” So committed was I to the beauty of food that this seemed like not only a fun purchase, but a necessary one. I then chased it by eating a bowl of the soup, along with a pastrami sandwich on rye.

Anyways, the trick now is to figure out how to lose this weight as painlessly as possible. I know, after all, there won’t be much that is painless about it, least of which will be 4 p.m. when I’ll stalk the fridge on a daily basis and search for something involving cheese and Triscuits.

Oh, but hunger pains are the worst, aren’ they? My goal as of now (and granted, it’s 7:37 a.m. and I’m not hungry yet) is to remind myself that, no matter how hungry I get, I’ll at least be allowed to eat food, which is a step up from the fast I had to do for my colonoscopy a few months ago. Sure, I’ll be reduced to depressing items like grapes and dried apricots and yogurt, but I’ll at least be allowed to consume something real, right?

Honestly, I expect this glass-half-full approach to work about once, and then I’ll just be hungry and miserable. My next go-to will be to start searching online for clothes, ones I’ll only be allowed to buy once the weight comes off. Then I’ll choose TV shows I’ll only let myself watch if I’m working out on the elliptical. Then I’ll only let myself cook from my Rodale cookbook, whose recipes are exceptionally healthy, but still kind of exciting.

We’ll see if any of it works. I mean, it kind of has to, since, eventually, I’ll have to go somewhere that requires something dressier than a pair of pilled pants circa 2004.

Until then, I would love, I mean love, to gain insight from you and learn what you’re doing to keep motivated in the new year. Please drop me a line at tara@swayessay.com. As always, I’d love to hear from you.

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