Gosh, the headlines this time of year are relentless.
How to Stay Healthy During the Holidays!
Five Ways to Curb Your Christmas Appetite!
Average Holiday Meal 15,000 Calories, 645 Grams of Fat!
Okay, I made that last one up.
But you know what I mean—the talk this time of year is all about food. The cookie exchanges, the class parties, the Christmas Eve dinner—it’s a non-stop Eat-A-Thon from Thanksgiving to the New Year.
For someone who’s been pretty obsessed with and possessed by food most of her life, holiday eating has never really meant that much to me. I mean, I used to stuff myself all day, every day, so Christmas really didn’t make much of a difference. And even though I regularly abused all things chocolate and sugary, I wasn’t particularly threatened by the endless parade of cakes and cookies and pies. Fried foods and salty snacks were way more dangerous for me (thank goodness there’s no holiday centered around French fries).
Now that my stomach has been altered, I’m even more indifferent to the mounds of food you typically find everywhere this time of year. I have a bite of a cookie, I finish what’s left on my kids’ plates, all without much thought. It’s nice not to be thinking about stuffing my face all the time, to not fight with myself over whether or not I should load up my plate (which was a useless struggle, since I caved almost every time). But if I’m being honest, there’s a tiny part of me that feels a little left out. Isn’t that weird? I see people posting on Facebook about the yummy goodies they are preparing and I can’t help but think that’s a party to which I am no longer invited. True—the cost of admission to that party is way too high for me, and I’m grateful that I can now easily “just say no”. But if you’re not joining others in the celebratory eating and drinking of the season, it can be….lonely.
Here we go again with the whole happiness thing. I swear, sometimes I wish I could just *be*, without all the thought and analysis.
I get asked a lot about loose skin.
Yes, I have it….and yes, I hate it. Oh, I guess hate is a strong word. It’s not like I stay up at night crying about it, begging God to please help me rid myself of hanging skin.
I hated food addiction. Loose skin? More like annoying.
If I hadn’t had complications from gastric bypass surgery, I probably would have considered elective procedures to help with the extra skin. (Of course, I would need a whole lot of cash, too).
But because I now have a more-than-healthy respect for the inherent dangers of any surgery, I doubt you’ll ever find me signing up for something that I could live without. I was too sick for too long to ever look at getting on the operating table lightly.
So, I live with the skin. How much? Hard to say in pounds…but I suspect I could wear pants at least two sizes smaller if I didn’t have so much extra skin around my abdomen.
I can get down about it if I allow myself, so I try not to think about it too much.
It could be so much worse.
I could still be addicted to food.
My brain is currently frozen. I am only capable of thinking in bullet points, so here goes:
**The number one benefit from having had gastric bypass surgery, for me, is that I am no longer a slave to food. Wonderful, awesome feeling. The number one not-so-good feeling? It is rare that I eat a meal and not feel nausea and/or upset stomach afterward. It’s been two and a half years since my surgery, and I still feel this way daily. It doesn’t last too long after I eat, but it is nonetheless quite annoying.
**In January, I am enrolling in Financial Peace University. Not familiar with Dave Ramsey? Check him out here: https://www.mytotalmoneymakeover.com/?featuresOnly. It is life-changing, and when it comes to debt, I need a change!
**Looking for something wonderful to bring to holiday parties and get-togethers? Check out my Gammy’s recipe for cheese biscuits here: http://www.wral.com/lifestyles/goaskmom/blogpost/8769527/. They are delicious and they look straight out of Martha Stewart. Not that I am capable of making them myself—I am clueless in the kitchen!
**Do you need a pick-me-up in the exercise department? I am totally digging 30 Seconds to Mars right now. Great music for the treadmill, and not just because Jared Leto is totally hot (shut up) : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mLqHDhF-O28&feature=related
**My 5-year-old son told me yesterday he doesn’t want Santa to bring him any toys. All he wants for Christmas is $5. I’m thinking that is totally doable!
Now, if you’re looking for me, I’ll be buried under a pile of unwrapped Christmas presents. Just when is all this stuff going to get done????????????
Company Christmas parties. Neighborhood Open Houses. Childrens’ Holiday Pageants. The calendar is filled, every day presenting a new event for which we want to look our best.
It’s enough to make ya crazy.
This time of year is already so stressful, with the gifts to buy, the decorating to finish, the plans to go out of town. Do we really need to heap on pressure to squeeze into that dress we wore five years ago, or fast for five days to look good in our skinny jeans? I know I used to make desperate attempts to lose a lot of weight in a short amount of time, always managing to make myself nuts and achieving weight loss totaling zero, and usually actually gaining a few pounds. I mean, if I hadn’t managed to lose any weight the rest of the year, what in the world made me think I would be able to control my eating with all the holiday temptations? It was my special way of setting myself up for failure, and over the years, I mastered the task.
I say, no more.
Give yourself a break for the holidays. Don’t go crazy eating, but don’t expect the impossible, either. Be reasonable with your food, and take time to enjoy the events, the decorations, and time with your family. There’s plenty of time in the New Year to set about a practical plan to lose weight. Or, if you find yourself addicted to food and in a completely desperate state like I was, make the decision that 2011 will bring healing for you. Get help from a professional: find a good therapist, seek help from a doctor (and if at first you don’t succeed in finding one who will help you, please, keep looking), whatever it takes, be vigilant about finding the answer that works for you.
My hope is that everyone stop punishing themselves with unreasonable expectations, and make the steps necessary to make the life they envision for themselves a reality.
I know it seems unattainable—I have been there, and was stuck for so many years. But I’m here to tell you that it can happen—and I hope and pray it happens for you.
Love yourself, just as you are. Love yourself enough to say you deserve happiness, because you do.
If you can believe that, then you will find the way.
The year is coming to a close, and it’s time for us to reflect on the happenings of 2010 and the hopes for 2011. For so many years, my New Year’s Eve preparation was all about my weight loss goals: trying out the latest and greatest diet (and always failing), vowing to exercise each and every day (and somehow never making it past the second week of January), and working on unveiling a new and improved Me. My plans were always ambitious, almost as though part of the plan was certain failure (my therapist would have a field day with that revelation). Thank goodness those days are behind me. No, I haven’t lost all of the weight I would like to, but I now realize that consistent, moderate day in and day out efforts are the best way to meet my goals. So, fine. I don’t need to obsess and stress over my weight as the New Year approaches; I know that in time, success will come.
But am I happy?
That’s the question on my mind most these days, and it has been all fall. By all accounts, 2010 was an exceptional year in my life: my book was published, I’ve gotten wonderful feedback, heck, even Oprah sang my praises. What’s not to like about that, right? The book was a goal I’d had for many, many years, and I finally saw that dream realized. Happiness should ensue at this point.
Oh, if only it were that simple.
I touched on this a little in the book, but now I find myself exploring my theory on a daily basis: I am not built to be happy. There are people —my husband being one of them—who are generally happy, and something really bad has to happen to get them down. And then there are people like me, who have to have a whole list of exceptional things in their life to make the case for happiness, and even on the rare occasion such a list is presented to them, contentment still eludes them. You give us a list of ten things with nine points being positive, and we will dwell on the one negative.
I know it’s maddening. You should try living it.
But Jennifer, some would say, happiness is a choice. If you want to be miserable, you will always find something to be upset about; in order to be happy, you have to decide to make the positive your focus. And really, I do believe this is true. I mean, forget the book—I have a wonderful husband, two beautiful children—there’s no way I should be unhappy. There will always be challenges in life—waiting for a problem-free existence is simply an exercise in futility. You can either go through your day cataloguing all the missteps or you can celebrate the blessings and victories, big or small. Why not choose the sunnier route? If for no other reason than to try something different!
So my goal for 2011: choose to be happy. Stop trying to find satisfaction in a job or someone’s approval, or—most importantly—in my own failure. Take joy in watching my kids grow, spend time laughing with my husband, nurture friendships that I’ve abandoned for far too long. Extend kindness to strangers, do something every day to help put a smile on someone’s face. Steep myself and my life in the happiness of others, and then maybe, just maybe, I will feel it myself.
I still have goals I want to achieve, and I will always have things in my life that worry me or that I want to change. But I want those things to occupy an appropriate amount of my attention, and not a minute more. The rest of my time—the majority of my day—I want to give myself permission to be happy. My old self would say this is the least ambitious of all my New Year’s Eve goals. The new me says keeping this resolution will be my greatest achievement ever.