Thursday, December 1, 2011

The holidays ahead

Today, the last day of November, was more reasonable than the last two days. I had a coconut-almond Kind bar, a bowl of bean soup, turkey/cheese/spinach on a bagel, a tall caramel brulee latte from Starbucks, and Turkish "pizza" (ground lamb and vegetables on flatbread).

So now December has arrived. Do I have the strength to limit myself to only homebaked goods (made by my own hands) on just a few special days this month? Some family members are planning to travel to my house for Christmas, and I'd like to make a couple kinds of cookies and try my hand at making eggnog from scratch for the first time. Maybe a red velvet cake, too. Homemade goods have become something of a rarity in my family, as most of our parties feature store-bought cakes, cookies, etc. But now that I have a house and the opportunity to play hostess, I'm trying to establish new traditions; when the people I love indulge at my house, I'd like it to be with something real instead of with various combinations of high fructose corn syrup and partially hydrogenated soybean oil. Not that I don't dump those very things into my body, but I'm trying to change. I'm trying to create an emotional association between those kinds of cheap mass-produced goods and the phenomenon of people not caring about one another. (Which, if you think about it, makes perfect sense. The companies that make these treats don't care about you or your health. And even though cake shouldn't be equated with love, more effort and care go into a homemade cake than into a package of Little Debbie.) I want cheap sweets to become emotionally repellent so that I don't have to struggle so hard with temptation anymore.

To get through December, I'm going to have to stay busy, engage in exercise for stress relief, and create a new habit like drinking tea each evening (my most vulnerable time for eating sweets). Oh, and remind myself that I'm NOT deprived in any way--that I'm CHOOSING to do something good on my own behalf because I care about myself. Perhaps most fundamentally, my vision of Christmas needs to change, to include a picture of myself enjoying and modeling vibrant health in the midst of all the festivities. My tendency is to fantasize about making the house, the meal, the everything (except me, of course) look like something out of a magazine. To make those things the symbol of a perfect Christmas, and not even think about my own well-being--if anything, to sacrifice my well-being in the service of ridiculous Martha Stewart-esque Christmas visions.

I will still endeavor to put on a lovely holiday for my family, but I want to be able to enjoy it. And I can only enjoy it if I'm feeling good. And that requires decent food, exercise, sleep, grooming, de-stressing...and reasonable expectations for myself and the holiday season in general.

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