Michelle Obama is right. I know it in my heart. We need to make healthier food choices. She's an inspiration. In fact Michelle, along with the approaching season of shorts and halter tops, is inspiring everyone I know to do just that. But I have a confession to make. I can't ever bring myself to start. There never seems to be a right time to start a diet.
I'm eating a piece of carrot cake as I write this. Apart of me is saying, "Who died and left her food police?" Another part is saying, "Come on, you know you've always wanted Michelle Obama arms. So just the fork down and back away from the table." I compromise. I tell myself I'll start my diet after dessert.
I confess. Book me, Dano. I am hereby charged with reckless eating. Take down my confession: I've grown (literally) accustomed to holiday feasting. Easter, Passover, Arbor Day. Any day can be a holiday. Is that so wrong?
Shouldn't that be considered a crime of passion or something. Can't I get off on lesser charges, like jaywalking? Why must everyone make a federal case of my ever growing waist?
And by the way, are you going to finish that meatball hero?
It all started on Halloween. When one-eyed pirates and fairy princesses call on you for treats. I'd much rather trick them.
My trick is answering the door with my mouthful. So what kid? I ate all the good candy and left you only the Sour Tarts and Waxed Lips. I had to. It was self-defense. A three-foot tall Spider-Man was stalking me. It was eat or have no more Hershey Special Darks left to be eaten!
Three Musketeers indulgences trickle over to pumpkin pie indulgences. And then...it's Thanksgiving. I love the spirit of the occasion. Giving thanks. Try it with me. I am thankful for butternut squash, cranberry sauce, and stuffed mushrooms. I am thankful for garlic mashed potatoes and baked ham. Didn't that feel great?! Gratitude is truly a virtue. And let me tell you, all that appreciating sure makes a gal hungry. There to answer the call of hunger is a fresh, out-of-the-oven Gingerbread Man looking at me with those big, blue M&M eyes, asking the question:
"Is there ever a good time to start a diet?"
Reindeer Cookie, wise beyond his years answers, "Not really. Just like there is never a perfect time to have a baby." Wow, reindeer cookie is deep. He must be a Buddhist. To keep him from talking, he gets eaten. Again, self-defense.
There has to be a good time to start eating right. And I am going to find it, by God. Well, it's definitely not December. Frolicking to and fro, from holiday party to holiday party. I haven't "partied" this much since weekends at the college dorm where I'd wake up in last night's clothes and eat cold pizza for breakfast. In December I eat food I don't eat all year round, Baccala, Calamari, Scungille (and the rest of the Sopranos), all battered and fried and threatening to raise your cholesterol if you don't give 'em respect.
But wait, this relentless food-frenzy doesn't end with the birth of baby Jesus. Just one short week later and there's another baby that wants his props, Baby New Year (yeah, he's a diaper-wearing hack, but we dig him nonetheless). The ball drops, people kiss each other and we eat and drink ourselves into oblivion, or at least into the next year.
I wake up feeling bloated and bulky, but still not guilty. It's New Year's Day and this holiday eats like a Sunday. Dinner starts at 1 p.m. with the antipasto shortly after breakfast and it ends at 8 p.m. with the mixed nuts, espresso, and ricotta cheesecake.
It hits me on January 2nd, I'm watching tv with some left-overs (honey-balls and a glazed ham), when a diet pill commercial comes on, then an ab machine commercial. I'm bombarded with hot, glistening, gorgeous bodies on the big screen while all I feel is flabby and gassy. I vow - I am never going to eat like this again. I am sick of myself. This is the year I am going to get cut, ripped, shredded, torn (and any other violently fit word you can think of). I fantasize about a new, amazing sex life. I write resolutions on a piece of paper while eating maple walnut ice cream out of the container.
February arrives. I dust off my treadmill and buy some fresh produce only to remember that it's Auntie Ann's birthday. Wouldn't want to offend her by not partaking of that Fudgie the Whale Carvel Cake I just bought her.
Before you know it, it's Valentines' Day -- a day where showing love means stuffing your significant other with raspberry mousse-filled truffles and chocolate roses wrapped in techno-colored tin foil. My butt becomes a tangible example of the effects of high fructose corn syrup.
I see little, pink paper cut-out Cupids in restaurants scotch-taped to the wall. I see gold heart-shaped boxes with red ribbon calling me "Hello, lover." Miniature stuffed teddy bears with pouty smiles gaze at me seductively. It is that time of year. And I am a sucker for romance. Guilty as charged. So sue me, give me a ticket; a moving food violation, whatever stupid thing you can think of. This is just how I roll. Why should I try to change myself to look like the chick in the Brazilian Fat Blasting Dance video? I'm not Brazilian and I'm not blasting anything. Call me a conscientious objector.
So there you have it, dear Michelle. That's my confession. Those are the facts that have led me to this moment right now.
Before you take me in... to that cold gymnasium in the suburbs... with three square meals of rice cakes each day.... please give me just one more week to say goodbye to all who are dear to me. Leave me here in my fat pants with the elastic waist. Leave me where I lay, with my box of assorted chocolates; each piece bitten slightly so that I can see inside.
Give me a week, my First Lady. Yes, that's it...a week!
I have stumbled upon the answer to Gingerbread Man's question. I do declare, the first monday of summer is a perfect time to start a diet.
Let's spread the good word, Michelle!
At holiday parties, stick with just ONE of each deliciously tempting hors duerves, one plate of food (anything you want, just keep the portions reasonable), one alcoholic drink, and one dessert. You'll be able to enjoy every part of the meal, and you'll end the evening feeling light and content, not stuffed, heavy and bloated. Visit Joy Bauer on Facebook and Twitter for more.
Alcohol is double trouble for your waistline: it's high in calories and it lowers your inhibitions, which means you might end up eating more than you planned. Stick with the most slimming cocktails -- a glass of wine or champagne at 120 calories or a light beer at around 100 calories. You can also enjoy a shot of liquor with club soda and a splash of fruit juice for 100 calories. It’s also a good idea to drink water through the evening, it helps in not drinking too much alcohol! Visit Joy Bauer on Facebook and Twitter for more.
Eating is contagious. Research out of Georgia State University shows that people eat 75% more calories when dining in a large group, as at holiday parties - that's almost DOUBLE the number of calories you'd eat alone. Stay on track by hanging out with the talkers in the group rather than the eaters huddled around the buffet table. Visit Joy Bauer on Facebook and Twitter for more.
There are so many dips that are festive, delicious and definitely don’t seem like diet food -- bean dips, spinach-artichoke dip, and even hummus. And, don’t forget: www.joybauer.com has a ton of healthy dip recipes. Visit Joy Bauer on Facebook and Twitter for more.
When trying to lose weight, women should aim to take in between 1,200 and 1,600 calories per day. For men, the count should be between 1,600 and 2,200 calories. If you’re within that range, the weight will come off. Visit Joy Bauer on Facebook and Twitter for more.
To lighten up baked goods like cookies and cupcakes, reduce the sugar by a quarter. You can also slash calories by making your treats smaller -- scoop out smaller cookies or use a mini muffin pan instead of a standard one. In dips, substitute nonfat Greek yogurt for some or all of the full-fat mayo or sour cream. For mashed potatoes, try 1% milk in place of whole milk or cream and use just one tablespoon of butter to add a hint of richness. Visit Joy Bauer on Facebook and Twitter for more.
Spices are not only great, low-calorie flavorings, but they also have medicinal powers. For example, ginger and turmeric are anti-inflammatory, so they help to ease aches and pains. Cajun seasoning and anything spicy can rev the metabolism and help to suppress appetite. Visit Joy Bauer on Facebook and Twitter for more.
If you had to choose any three foods to add to a diet, they would be: Salmon, loaded with heart-healthy omega-3 fats Nuts, a low carbohydrate snack which contains fiber, protein, and those heart-healthy fats Lentils, which are healthy and great for your mood Visit Joy Bauer on Facebook and Twitter for more.
Hit the gym or the pavement first thing in the morning after a day of holiday feasting. Jumping into a vigorous cardio workout will help you burn off the extra calories and sweat away bloat. Plus, it puts you in a positive mindset so you can get back on track with your healthy eating plan. Visit Joy Bauer on Facebook and Twitter for more.
Try munching on pistachio nuts to lower your cholesterol. Pistachios contain a compound called plant sterols, which help absorb the bad cholesterol in the gut. And, 30 pistachios are only 100 calories. Nature Made also has a cholesterol-lowering pill called CholestOff that contains plant sterols and can be bought over-the-counter. Visit Joy Bauer on Facebook and Twitter for more.
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