Whoa, being healthy feels astoundingly surreal. I had gotten used to a clacking cough interrupting my life on a daily basis and fellow commuters on public transportation vividly looking disgustedly at me while I “Dracula-sneezed” into the crook of my elbow or made the sound a thirsty cactus might into my scarf. Sadly, that whole “less energy than a half cup of boiled beans” setting let a critical amount of time lapse – time when I intended to write about staying healthy during the festive season that taunts us with cookies (darn office jobs), why exercising at work makes us more productive (you can bet my boss will see this clipping hanging on my wall soon), and most importantly, a few key gift ideas for runners and fitness fetishists on your “buy for” list which could have been picked up at Costco or a thrift store or a running specialty store depending upon your level of monetary availability. Alas. Missed it all.
However, since guidance to resisting the sweet-toothed fairy (or the savory-toothed fairy…or basically any fairy that is encouraging you to consume more calories than you are going to burn/use) never goes out of vogue (holy moly, there are entire magazines, books, television shows and even blogs on topics such as this!) let’s have a fireside-like chat about how to keep your mind and mouth occupied.
Ignore-ance is Bliss
The issue: When holiday-treats in the office place come into play, your biggest foe is the sheer volume of peanut brittle, honey-drenched popcorn balls, frosted cookies, and Andes mints that are lolling about. Part of your brain will constantly be thinking “Oh yes, food! I don’t even have to leave this space to go get nutrition, it’s right here in front of my eyes” as you walk by it while getting a cup of tea. And the desire to turn to the dark side and wage an all out winning battle with that homemade gingerbread and spiced/spiked cider (depends on where you work, really) will be strong.
The solution: Resolve to ignore these things. Literally, tell yourself “the answer to if I want anything is no” before you even get to the office. Start reciting this at home, and mention it mentally on your way to work, in an email to yourself if you must, and simply remind yourself that treats are not an option because they’re just not. It’s hard. It’s not fun. But…future you will thank you because future you will have reasonably normal-looking cheeks and lack a double chin. Or at least the feeling that you have both.
You Get One Favorite. Yes, One.
The issue: Mmmm. Pumpkin pie is like, your favorite. And so is cibatta bread. And brie! And goat cheese! And sheep’s milk brie! And oh holy night, is that Mt. Tam from Cowgirl Creamery? This office party rocks! Look, sadly, the idea of a “favorite” does not mean “many” favorites. It means “a” favorite – or one.
The solution: At each event, look at the options presented, and pick one that is your favorite. That’s the one you can have. Small samples of everything will tempt your tastebuds into wanting more small samples and more and more and more (oy, like me with the cookie tray at work). One taste over and over again won’t be as easy to keep wanting (though trust me, it’s so possible) and it’s easier to control you nibbles.
Exert Your Control
The issue: you have to bring something to a party and after a panic at the disco like freakout, you know your fudge-filled cookies are the best around. But jeeze-louise, all those calories…what’s a health-nut to do?
The solution: situations like this rock because you are offered complete control as to your food destiny. A party doesn’t have to mean sweets. Think about something savory, or even better, healthy. I’m nuts about being the bearer of berries to social gatherings – sweet and yummy and easy to eat, but not overwhelming in their cholesterol count. No one will whine if you show up with a veggie platter instead of a pimento cheese-ball, I promise. Pair it with some ranch or hummus as a special sauce (and mustard! That stuff is great). This way you have healthy options, and when you exercise your right to ignore certain foods, there are bite-sized pieces of joy to keep you occupied.
Don’t Talk With Your Mouth Full
The issue: do I know what to say to these people? Sheesh-ka-bobs, sure we work together/grew up together/went to high school together/live together but darn-it if a case of supreme shyness isn’t taking the reigns. Hitting the food-table might seem like a junior-high dance move, but darn if it doesn’t make you look involved without making you have to be involved.
The solution: I hate to break it to you, but you’ve got master the art of making conversation. Grab a glass of wine or punch to sip slowly and turn away from the ex-college boyfriend at the shuffleboard table (seriously, you don’t want to talk to him. Promise), and scan the room for someone who looks like they are in the same situation you are in. Got them in your line of site? Great, now go talk to them and ask them how they are doing. What they are up to. If they’ve been anywhere neat lately. Where they live. What they love about it. The weirdest thing they’ve witnessed this week. How they like their eggs cooked. What CD’s they’d take with them to a desert island. Ask them questions. Get them chatting about themselves (everyone is an expert on themselves – it’s hard to resist talking about a subject they know so well!) and voila! Half an hour will pass and you haven’t eaten a thing. Be genuinely interested and you can talk for forty five minutes if you want.
Good luck, health-nuts. Go forth and conquer. And check in with me later in the week – I’ll compare how I did with you (because honestly as of tonight, it’s not going too hot).