A Subversive Take On Holiday Eating
I sent this letter to my personal training clients yesterday.
This is my first holiday season as a trainer, and I suppose I’m expected to hold forth on such topics as what to eat, what to avoid, and how, in general, to manage the temptations that come this time of year.
But if you’ve worked with me for any length of time, you know that my take on personal training is just that—training the person—and that I believe in education and not the quick fix. Anybody can get you to sweat or dictate your diet; my job, as I see it, is to help you understand why we do what we do, so that you can go off and do it without me, and sustain these habits for a lifetime. Work myself out of the job, as it were.
Same goes for my advice on food this time of year, and also the busyness of the holidays that may cut into your best intentions to exercise. You can find top ten lists anywhere (everywhere!) on portion control, healthy recipes, and better food choices (if you can't, let me know and I'll guide you). But I'd rather that when you gather around the buffet or the television, you see the bigger picture, which is this: the holidays are a handful of moments in a whole, long lifetime. That is, the key to weight loss and health is consistency, which means we are allowed to enjoy special foods and events, because we'll be back working on this again in just a day or two. This is not advice to overeat but simply to enjoy.
Have I ever told you about my $600 meal? The side of me that has worked in homeless shelters and with the poor wants to crawl in a hole before admitting the price of that bill, but here's why I can't: that meal, shared with my husband at a Chicago restaurant, was the single most thrilling aesthetic event of my life. It was a Broadway show, a great book, an amazing circus act and a soaring symphony, all wrapped up in twelve courses. Be careful asking me about it, because my voice will go up in volume and I'll start waving my arms. I don't regret the meal or the money spent for an instant.
Too many advice articles would have us forget that we have been given aesthetic pleasures here on earth to enjoy with our whole being. Enjoyment does not equal engorgement or excess, but rather a slowing down and taking in. With family and friends. An appreciation for what is in front of us, whether it be a bite or a good friend. That's my "advice" this holiday season, and what I wish for you.