Sunday, November 23, 2008

What a Middle-Aged Surfer Can Teach Us About Thanksgiving

I thought about writing about how tonight when I was walking on the track at my kids' school I kept a really great pace because I was trying to make sure I stayed way ahead of any other people who were also on the track because I had gas. 4.52 miles in 71 minutes, thank you very much.

But (get it? Butt? Hee. I slay me.)(As a side note, something you should know about Holly is that when I first met her she was so refined that she wouldn't even say the word, "butt." It took me two years to wear her down.) I figured that that wouldn't be the most interesting post. Maybe it would, but that's sad. So instead I'm going to talk about Thanksgiving.

A couple of years ago I read a book by Anderson Cooper that I really liked--it was a good story well told, which is my main criteria for me liking it--but what I liked best was a phrase I took from it. I wish I were cool enough (or had enough brain cells, for that matter)(it is my time-tested hypothesis that placenta is made of brain cells) to remember the context of this phrase, but that doesn't make it any less good. Holly actually referred to it a few posts ago, because, well, I do say it a lot. "Hope is not a plan."

17 years ago, my husband was in Florida serving a mission for our church, and he was teaching a man named Greg. Greg was a nice guy--a typical surfer dude type--who was really interested in living a good life, but had a few addictions that he wasn't quite ready to give up. The way he said it several times to my dh was, "Man, I hope I repent." This has now become a saying that Holly and I use quite often when we're referring to something that is entirely in our power to do but that we may or may not actually get done. Such as, "Today I want to exercise and eat well. I hope I repent," or, "I really don't want to eat too much candy at my in-laws' house today. I hope I repent."

You get the idea.

With Thanksgiving coming up, you need a plan. You can't go into one of the most caloriffic days of the year saying, "I hope can control myself." Want to know why you can't do that? That's right, because hope is not a plan.

Your Thanksgiving plan can be any kind you want it to be. You can plan out everything you're going to eat and the exercise you're going to do that day and when. You can also plan to eat everything in sight and make sure there's always someone nearby to fetch things for you so you never have to get up. You could also take a more moderate approach and set yourself some guidelines, such as "Only a small piece of the dessert(s) that look really good," or "No thirds." Knock yourself out figuring out what's best for you. But while you're thinking of your plan, think about how you want to feel--physically and about yourself--that night or even the next day, and think about how you can best plan to make those feelings reality.

Now, I know that there's a school of thought that says, "It's the holidays! You should just relax and enjoy yourself!" You should know that I do not subscribe to that school. I do agree that the holidays are a great time of year and should be fun. However, I also believe that one day of gorging yourself and sitting on your duff (that's a term pre-Sara Holly would likely have approved of) all day is not going to do you any favors. You've tasted it all before. You will have another chance in your life to taste it again. This year make the decision to eat sensibly, make a plan for that, and follow through. The holidays are not about the food. They're about the people we love and getting in touch with our better selves. Thanksgiving in particular is about remembering the many things with which youve been blessed and expressing that gratitude, whether publicly or privately (personally, I am not a fan of having to go around the table and share something you're grateful for for every M&M that's in a little cup at your place, and I love that one year my brother-in-laws last gratitude was "I'm grateful that this is the last M&M.").

I do not, however, believe that the holidays are meant to be spent stressing out over every calorie and every morsel, or feeling guilty because you overslept and didn't get your workout done before it was time to start cooking/leave for Grandma's. Be realistic. You know you, and you know what challenges you're going to face on Thursday. Take all that into account, and do the best you can. You don't have to be perfect; just do your best. Eat three pieces of pie instead of your usual 5? Great! Just think about what you want to happen and then make a plan to make that happen. Want eat with wanton abandonment and just get back in the game on Friday? More power to ya! Plan it out!

Think it through. That's all I'm saying.

I hope we all repent :)

That picture up there is because when I entered "turkey" into Google Images, that map of the country, not the bird (though a map of a bird might be both gross and fascinating) is one of the first results that showed up, and it made me laugh, and since I am all about the humor, I went with it. Photo credit:


Wendi said...

I hope I repent too. ;) However, I want you to know that I just walked to the grocery store and carried home two bags of rather heavy groceries. That was my exercise part. And I also wanted you to know that I ONLY bought what was on my list--AND I DIDN'T buy the caramel that I often get to dip our apples in. Just the appples--which are very heavy, if you must know! Aren't you proud of me?! :) And it was all because of your posts on this here blog. Happy Holidays, Holly and Sara! :D

Wendi said...

The apples were so heavy, apparently, that I had to add an extra "p" in the previous comment. :)