Christmas is quickly approaching and I am in a bit of a funk. I guess this is what happens when you put together the following:

  • I enjoy making traditional foods to mark the holidays,
  • I lost 25 pounds this year by maintaining a somewhat consistent effort in modifying my diet and adding a good dose of exercise (Yes, I did!),
  • I have witnessed clients and friends also lose a lot of weight this year by doing the same thing,
  • and I also have watched others receive diagnoses for illnesses related to diet and lifestyle; namely, Type II Diabetes.

Yeah, she is totally over-thinking this one. Go back to sleep Rosebud!

You might suppose that I am over-thinking the whole thing. I can hear a voice say, “… but it is only a few days… you can easily work that off in a matter of weeks… you are so good most of the time!” Well, I hate to admit it, but the holiday eating usually lasts for more than a few days. Getting back into shape is not always an easy thing. I keep in mind that I am a habitual person; if I become accustomed to eating sugar everyday, then it is really difficult to make the change back to not having a daily dose of sweets. This is not just me. Overall, the traditional holiday eating has simply become too much. It can become sugar overkill once I add up my family’s special treats, my partner’s and friend’s special treats, and so forth. And really, this does not do anyone any good.

In some ways, however, I might not have the same problem this year. First of all, I am now running a business. My business really keeps me occupied, and so I don’t have the same amount of time to think about creative culinary pursuits. Bye, bye Martha-Stewart-me!  As well, I have seriously started to crave daily exercise.  Most days when I think, “Oooo, I should start baking!”  I have to run off to a dance class. All of a sudden that baking is not as important to me.  Oh yeah, perspectives change in the process of running, jumping and moving about. Being fit quickly becomes very important to me because I simply want to enjoy growing further in doing what I love to do.  Since this year’s Christmas Eve and Christmas Day are on the weekend, I also think it will be a shorter celebration that will not last for days and days.

One thing that helps me feel alright about dropping some of the supposedly necessary, but not very healthy traditions is to remember that it is the people that keep traditions alive.  We all share the power to make this year happen in so many different ways.  We can make our traditions something that is beneficial to ourselves and to our loved ones. I think realizing this truth has been hard work for me this year. I have never faced all of this with such honesty! Wow! I know professionally what my clients need to hear when they face certain health problems, and I know how to put together 12 kinds of cookies and squares for the holidays. But I am finally letting each of these types of knowledge come face to face. Viola: the funk!

So, back to the drawing board I go!  My friend Chitra says, “don’t bake anything this year!”  I am not sure I am ready to do this, but I am ready to do the following:

  • Seriously scale back on the sweets and sweet drinks. Instead of many different kinds of cookies, I have narrowed it down to two: gluten-free peppernuts (I will share the recipe with you tomorrow) and chocolate shortbread cookies. I might also do Christmas Rocky Road… but that is it! I can hear some of you say, “But what about regular shortbread, and butter tarts, and Christmas cake, and peanut brittle, and nanaimo bars, and sugar cookies, and almond crescents, and truffles, and gingerbread, and fudge, and peppermint cookies, and, and…” Well, I just can’t do that. Not this year.
  • Allow myself to move beyond tradition and create what I know are totally healthy, digestible and guilt-free meals with fish, vegetables, meats, nuts and fresh fruit. Making a plan that doesn’t cause worry is like a new way to relax.
  • Focus on making gifts for loved ones that are not food related: a homemade hand cream, a tea, a knit scarf, and so on. I have lots of ideas.
  • Share time with friends and family that involves more MOVE and less FOOD. We will go play outside. What?  Yes, it’s cold outside! We can wear layers, my friends. Bundle up and expand on tradition!

Tammy Schmidt, Montreal.

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