It’s Just One Day
How many times have we told that to ourselves, just before we completely overindulge in high-calorie, low-health food? It’s one of those things that we tell ourselves to rationalize away the self-sabotaging stories. Others, like “there are no calories at a party” or “no calories if the food comes from someone else’s plate” are meant as little jokes, something everyone can chuckle over since they know it isn’t true, and yet at its core, it’s still rationalization.
A lot of people say the “It’s Just One Day” mantra on holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas. Of course, the danger isn’t really in the dinner on those nights itself. It’s in the days leading up to it. The day of, picking at the goodies before and after dinner. It’s the days of leftovers and the thought “well, we’d better get rid of this before it goes bad.” Thanksgiving is bad enough, but Christmas, with its parties and emphasis on sugary bits, is much more dangerous.
Making Christmas even more deadly is that favorite rationalization tool: The New Years Resolution. Like a fantasy gateway to a magical world full of healthy food eaten in moderation and iron-strong willpower, the New Year beckons and beguiles us. It gives us a handy line to lay down just before we tear into that 2,000 snack – “after the New Year, I’m really going to buckle down.” How many of us have completely thrown in the towel just before Thanksgiving with the idea that after the New Year, we are going to make a difference? I know I did – last year, I put on 15 pounds in a month and a half. It could have been 20 or 30.
We have to recognize it for what it is: we are rationalizing the poor decisions we are making, because we know we aren’t doing the right thing, the thing that we supposedly should be doing for ourselves. We make excuses – the food is right there in front of me, I have no willpower, one little piece couldn’t hurt, I deserve this, it’s the holidays, on and on and on. Those excuses are lies we are telling ourselves, lies that do nothing but hurt us and make us feel even worse about ourselves.
Guess what. We do have willpower. The fourth piece of something isn’t going to taste any better than the first did. The New Year isn’t some fantastical time of great choices and rigid adherence to a diet. Every day we can get through without overindulging, especially during the holidays, is a victory. We each have the opportunity to win a heck of a lot more victories than we give ourselves credit for.
It doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy yourself, if overeating food is truly something that means enjoyment. On Thanksgiving, I ate more food in one sitting than I had for six months. I nibbled at desserts all night long while I drank wine. The next day, I weighed out the turkey and ham I was eating with every meal, just like I did before. In the end, 4 ounces of turkey didn’t taste much different than the 12 or so I’d eaten the day before.
For this holiday, do something for yourself. Don’t give everything up. Don’t fool yourself. Don’t let others badger you into continuing a low-health and low self-esteem lifestyle. Enjoy those tastes and treats that you love, just in moderation. Track them. Will you go over your calorie allotment? Maybe. You’ll know if you did. You did the responsible thing and owned up to it by putting it down. Take ownership of it rather than feeling secretive and guilty about it. Don’t look to the New Year as when you’ll be really getting into it, or you might end up with the 15 pounds I had last year, and the first half of the new year will be spent trying to make up ground you’ve lost. Don’t throw away all the hard work you’ve been doing. I promise, you’ll enjoy it too.