When I took on the challenge to not gain weight during the holiday season, I had high hopes for myself. In my head, the equation worked out perfectly: substitute favorite holiday foods for healthier recipes, make the effort to exercise, and, most importantly, hold myself accountable by sharing my progress with all of you.
Unfortunately, real life never works out as planned, and this Thanksgiving I didn't follow my own rules.
It all started with the best of intentions. As I mentioned in my last post, I'd already created a few healthy and exotic versions of traditional Thanksgiving side dishes that I knew tasted great. I'd even formulated a rich cup of hot chocolate and warm, moist pumpkin-pie muffins that didn't teeter into the calorie danger-zone. My family was completely supportive of my endeavors, and promised to enjoy every healthy recipe that I prepared. What then, was my excuse for failing on Thanksgiving?
This year was the first time my extended family was able to join my husband, children and me at our house for the festivities. Of course, that meant the pressure was on to make not only a delicious Thanksgiving menu, but one that would be talked about for decades. Just two days before the big dinner, I caved to my own internal pressure to turn out rich and flavorful dishes, ones that spoke to the traditions I remembered as a child. Exotic was thrown out the window, while safety, familiarity, and lots of butter, took its place.
On my table this year were all the tasty, calorie-laden dishes I vowed to avoid.
Dessert was no better, either. I was three-pies deep in trouble and had no one to blame but myself. In my zeal to make Thanksgiving one to rival even the best memory, I knowingly, and willingly, betrayed myself and my goal to eat healthier this time around.
Every great success story usually begins with an obstacle that must be overcome. Instead of bashing myself and my choices, I choose to see this experience as an opportunity to better understand my eating, cooking and entertaining habits. This way, I know what I'm up against come Christmas.
Besides, the dinner menu wasn't a complete loss. I managed to limit my servings to one dinner plate, and I'm happy to report that I was even able to squeeze in two recipes that were healthy, and delicious, too.
The first dish is my green-bean salad made with apple-cider vinaigrette, then tossed with crumbled feta cheese and dried sweet cranberries. The second recipe is frothy, rich eggnog that has less than 150 calories and is just under two grams of fat per serving. It's one of the best holiday fake-outs I've managed so far. Give these two recipes a try and let me know if they pass your taste-test, too.
I didn't forget about exercise, either. I have made a more focused effort to get in short walks throughout the week. Although it's not particularly strenuous activity, I feel like I am finally doing something. I've even found a new yoga position that I love, called the Garland Pose. This unique squat-like stretch has helped me open my pelvic wall and loosen my hips and lower back, providing much needed relief from sitting at a desk all day. I may look a little silly squatting, but feeling good is much more important to me.
As you can see, like many of you out there, I'm human, and prone to make occasional mistakes. Although I overindulged on Thanksgiving, I feel there's nowhere to go but up. I am excited to report back to you in a few weeks and let you know the new recipes I've found, and my progress so far. Oh, just in case you're wondering, I've decided not to weigh myself until after the New Year. I figure my weight will probably fluctuate, and I don't want to tell myself I've failed before the challenge is even over.
Until next time, wish me luck.
Bryanne Salazar is a freelance writer and editor, a contributing author for the website What the Flicka?, and a food-meets-culture blogger living in Southern California. Her blog, Bryanne Bites the World documents her explorations of various ethnic communities and food cultures across the United States. Bryanne has a degree in English focused on creative writing, and loves to pen short stories in her spare time. She is also an advocate for women and girls worldwide, the mother of two teenage boys, and the wife of an active duty United States Marine. You can follow Bryanne on Twitter and Facebook to see what she's working on next.