January 20, 2016
The holiday season is over and if you’ve resolved to lose weight in 2016, you’re not alone. Each year, losing weight is the number one New Year’s resolution, and we blame our weight gain on the two months between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve. However, if you are one of the 78 million overweight Americans—as I was 100 pounds ago—official holiday pig-out season began with Halloween. Unofficially, it never stopped.
Like you, I had great intentions, but in spite of those intentions, I repeatedly stuffed myself to the brink of illness right through New Year’s Day. Then repenting like a Saturday-night sinner at a Sunday-morning revival meeting, I rushed to the nearest gym or joined the latest lose-it-quick weight-loss program. Sound familiar?
But just as you begin to feel human again, Super Bowl Sunday roars up the driveway, tailgate flapping, loaded with hot wings, stuffed jalapenos and supermarket meat-and-cheese platters, and your resolve to eat healthy ends with the first mouthful of chili-cheese dip.
Oh well, it’s only one day.
Before you can wipe the last smear of wing sauce off your face, oops, here comes Valentine’s Day. Break out the chocolate and champagne. By the time you pick the caramel out of your teeth, St. Patrick swings by with a heaping helping of corned beef, cabbage, and green beer. Right on his heels, Easter drags in a basketful of chocolate bunnies. Before the dye dries on the eggs, Mother’s Day rings the doorbell. You take Mom out for a calorie-loaded dinner that is sure to raise both her cholesterol and her blood pressure. Yours too. But no worries. It’s only one day.
Memorial Day kick-starts summer with the first official barbecue of the season. Father’s Day is next on the menu. All Dad wants to do is flop in front of the sports channel and eat, and you are happy to accommodate him. Spread out the food on the coffee table, wrap a beach towel around his neck, and let him chomp himself into a heart attack. Hope the life insurance is paid up.
Summer appears with a bang on the Fourth of July, another grilling-and-chilling holiday. Mid-July through August is vacation time, and who counts calories at the beach? Instead, you tell yourself that is the only time you can truly relax, so you gladly live on sugar, carbs, and fat-laden non-food.
As soon you are home, Labor Day weekend and the last binge of the season arrive. When the kids head back to school, you head, credit card in hand, to the nearest diet center or gym. That lasts about four weeks, until Halloween creeps in again. You have come full circle and are about to take another trip into the Bermuda Triangle of holiday food benders.
Add to this list Hanukkah, Eid-ul-fitr, Kwanzaa, and a multitude of other religious or spiritual festivities, weddings, showers, anniversaries, birthdays, funerals, Sunday dinners, and other personal celebrations. The result? Out of a 52-two week year, most people resolve to lose weight the week after New Year’s and the week after Labor Day. Think about it. Two weeks out of an entire year.
According to the U.S. Surgeon General, 300,000 people a year die prematurely from obesity-related diseases. Saying no to Aunt Fanny’s banana pudding cake or Uncle Ralph’s roasted beast with mango chutney is tough. We’ve all heard, “I made this just for you,” accompanied by a hurt expression. Out of guilt, and an ever-present craving, you eat the casserole or cake or candy. If you decline, they counter with, “It’s only one day.”
What can you do?
Well, you can continue to eat anything that anyone shoves your way and risk turning into an insulin-shooting diabetic stumbling around on your last three toes. You could eat yourself into a case of dementia, or be diagnosed with late-stage cancer because the fat hid the tumor.
Or you can begin to get healthy. One skipped order of French fries, one refused dessert, one trade from fried chicken to grilled halibut will start to turn your life and your health in the right direction.
One bite. One choice. One day at a time.
Hazel Dixon-Cooper is an internationally best-selling author. She is currently working on a memoir, CONFESSIONS OF A FAT COSMO GIRL, and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and through her blog https://fatcosmogirl.wordpress.com/ .