The Newlyweds Do Christmas!

Throughout my childhood and well into my adult life my family had two Christmases. One on the 16th of December (a public holiday in South Africa, celebrating reconciliation) and one on the 25th. The 16th was for friends – the type of friends who are more like family – and was probably my most favourite day of the year. Nothing but laughter and joy, delicious food and hysterical games. It was an honour to be invited and some years people ended up having to bring their own chairs to sit on, we were that packed to capacity. However many people were coming, my mum always managed to find the perfect turkey – one that was both big enough to feed everyone, yet would still fit in our oven. She roasted potatoes and various other vegetables, she made stuffing and gravy from scratch and she baked mince pies and proper Christmas pudding that you could set alight and everything. All of this in our very small kitchen in the thirty-degree summer heat of Johannesburg in December.

And then on the 25th she did it all again for just the four of us.

I like to think I have always appreciated my mum and recognised her brilliance – particularly in the kitchen. But this festive season my admiration has reached new heights. For this festive season Hubby and I hosted for the first time ever and I have never worked so hard in all my life – even though Hubby did most of it! If it’s edible we had it there to be eaten. If it has walked, swum or flown over this earth of ours, it was on the table ready to be eaten. We had smoked salmon and Parma ham entrees. We had bacon encrusted turkey and a citrus glazed gammon, with help from Hubby’s brother we had beef fillet and roast lamb, we had potatoes, parsnips, roast veg, salad, gravy, two types of stuffing and we had trifle.

But let’s bring the focus to my contribution… most importantly, we had a tidy house. Anyone who knows us and has ever visited us will understand that this was quite a feat in itself. We had a very festive looking dining room table. And we had pie-caken – the most wondrous invention of someone on Facebook of baking a pie inside a cake. I decided to do mini cherry pies baked inside chocolate cake. Most importantly, it worked. Secondly, it tasted pretty damn good. And as my final contribution, we had clean dishes come Boxing Day evening.

It was a wonderful Christmas. Happy memories were made and new traditions were set down. But it was exhausting. How mum did it twice in ten days for over twenty years I will never know. But I am so, so glad she did, and I know others are too. I would happily host again in 2017, because the juice is worth the squeeze in this case. But if mum happens to be free and feels like doing a spot of cooking I’m not going to deny her. That would be rude.

It’s not a diet, it’s a lifestyle change… bleugh!

Please Let it fit

Last week I had a “oh my god, I am not going to fit into my dress at my next fitting in two and half weeks” meltdown. It wasn’t pretty. Ever since putting on a bunch of weight during a very difficult year of my life six years ago, I have struggled to love my body. I get angry at myself when I think about how healthy I used to be and how easily I ‘let myself go’. I make all sorts of deals with a potential higher power – just let me go back to how I was then, I swear I won’t let this happen again! PLEASE! But our choices determine who we are and my choices have made me fat.

Everything was as easy

Last year I turned a corner and finally exited the denial phase. The phase where I thought an entire year of bad eating habits and limited movement could be undone with a little bit of walking and eating more vegetables. I needed dramatic change, which required dramatic efforts. And so began the lifestyle change.

I started exercising in earnest, personal trainer and all. I started eating healthily and cutting back on the junk food. My mood started to lift and the grams started to fall off, albeit very reluctantly. The buffet of tablets I take for my epilepsy makes losing weight extremely difficult (excuse #1?). By Christmas I had lost 4.5kg; nothing to write a book about, but enough to make me proud of myself. Fast forward to last week and I have put it all back on and then some.

What happened? I’m not really sure. Wait, that’s not entirely true… I have a fair idea. I fired my personal trainer (irreconcilable differences), I sat still a bit too much and took comfort eating to a professional level. Turns out I lied to the potential higher power – Even if they returned me to my original state, I would probably end up making the same bad choices.

People tell me to go and see a dietician, but I feel like that would be a waste of time and money. I know what I’m supposed to eat and what I’m not supposed to eat. A knowledge gap is not the problem here, a lack of willpower is. But during last week’s meltdown I discovered what truly powers the will – the love and support of friends and family. Everyone I reached out to came back with words of encouragement; none of the blame and belittling that was going on in my head; no self-righteous suggestions, only reassurance and inspiration. I could do this. I can do this!

Dress Workout

Mixing a bit of everyone’s thoughts together I came up with this: being overweight is just like any other battle one has with oneself. It’s an addiction to hedonism; to the easy way out. It’s unfair. Others are blessed with a fast metabolism and skinny genes, I am not. And so I must fight. One step at a time, one minute at a time, one day at a time. This isn’t a sprint, or even a marathon; it’s my life. This may have a starting point, but there is no finishing point, I can’t let there be. Some days I will sail through, other days I will need my friends to carry me. It’s a fight I have to win.

It’s only week one but I’m ok. I managed to avoid the birthday cake for a colleague and the roadtrip to KFC during lunch hour. I managed to drive past two McDonald’s on my way home from work every night without insisting that we go there for dinner. I know there will be days when I eat the cake, days when I join the roadtrip and nights when we go to McDonald’s. And that’s fine. Because I will be kind to myself. This isn’t a race, this is my life. Once step at a time, one minute at a time, one day at a time.

I hope to update you regularly on my progress (or lack thereof). Please share your stories in the comments below. Maybe we can help each other.