An Outdoor View: Fat is not jolly

Posted: Friday, December 17, 2010

Friends, we've been duped. For years, we've been fed the image of an obese Santa Claus laughing and saying, "Ho, ho, ho!" In reality, it's not a laugh, but a grimace, and he's saying, "Oh, oh, oh!"

Every Christmastime I can remember, which is a lot of them, I've eaten my fill -- oh, oh, oh -- of everything in sight. This time is going to be different.

Over the past 18 months, I've lost 60 pounds of blubber. I feel great, energetic, better than I've felt in years. I very much want to keep feeling this way. The last thing I want is to regain some of that fat by gorging during Christmas. Holiday "cheer" is anything but cheerful in January, when you're trying to jam yourself into your jeans.

It won't be easy, avoiding or cutting back on the things I love -- or used to love -- but it beats the alternative. The grim costs of those few moments of pleasure are being fat again, having to lose it again and an increase in health-related risks.

Losing those pounds was one of the most difficult things I've ever done. I had to learn what I could and couldn't eat. I had to exercise daily, no matter the weather or whether I felt like it or not. I had to make sacrifices, such as passing up dinner invitations and passing on before-dinner cocktails. The thought of all that work and sacrifice is daunting. I refuse to put myself through it again.

What I want is to live a long and healthy life. What I want is not to be a burden to my children or friends. I want to spend the last years of my life at home, active and free, not in some nursing home with strangers taking care of me. I want to spend as much time as possible in the outdoors, enjoying at least some of the activities I've always enjoyed.

What I don't want is to spend what remains of my savings and my life in doctor's offices and hospitals due to being overweight. I would prefer to not go blind, to lose control of my bladder, or to have one of my feet amputated due to complications of diabetes. I don't want a stroke to take away my ability to speak and write, or my ability to play Scrabble. I don't want to waddle when I walk. I want to dance.

So, with apologies to Jorgi Jorgensen, I'm yust not going nuts at Christmas. I'm going to avoid all the after-Christmas guilt and strife by not filling up with deviled eggs, seafood gumbo and whipping cream-topped pie. Oh, I'll be there, but I'll be careful about what I eat and drink. And I'll be on my feet, hugging the women, moving and mingling, burning calories. I'll be just as jolly as ever, only thinner.

Les Palmer lives in Sterling.

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