Confessions Of A Pleasure Piggy
Being virtuous all of the time is overrated
We’re going into the season of eating, drinking and being merry. It’s one of my favorite times of year. This is also the time of year that you get a lot of advice on how to live a healthy life in the face of all kinds of temptation. Common advice you might hear is to go for the veggie tray and white meat turkey at Thanksgiving and only have stuffing after the “good stuff” has had time to settle. You might also hear advice to eat something nutritious before you go to a party so you’re not so tempted by the cheesecake, or have water in between your beverages or try the bar’s signature mocktail. That is all excellent advice… if you can follow it. But for someone like me, who is a self-confessed pleasure piggy, as soon as I see the cookie on the buffet table next to the carrot, that cookie is going in this mowser every. single. time. Carrot be damned. Now, I could beat myself up about that and ruin the party altogether for myself, and I usually do. But this year, I’m going to try something different.
If you’ve been reading my newsletter for a while, you’ve learned that I believe eating well and exercising are much more important in the Third Act than they were when you were a kid. But I also believe (and science backs me up) that connection is as important, if not more important, than all of that for a healthy retirement. So, I’m going to focus on the connection part this holiday season. I’m not throwing all of the other advice about eating and moving out the window, mind you. The way I see it, the trick is not to be virtuous through all of the temptations, but rather to be kind to yourself as you shovel in that third helping of stuffing, laughing with friends and family, and then, as soon as that party, get together or cookie bake-off is over, it’s time to get back on the horse. The very next day. Send the leftovers home with others. Don’t buy the entire baked goods section of the grocery store for the happy hour with four friends. Make sure you have ways to move your body, even when it’s nasty outside and you, suddenly, have 5 more pounds that you have to get moving. Put a lock on the holiday-stuffed liquor cabinet and give the key to somebody who is going to be at your next party. Get used to the fact that, if you’re a pleasure piggy like me, you’re going to go to pot more often than you like during the holidays. That’s half the fun (and maybe more than half of the healthy connections)! Just don’t get used to staying there.
I think this is important for a few reasons. First, beating yourself up for having fun and indulging with friends is the exact opposite of healthy. Just. Don’t. Secondly, you’re not doing yourself any real harm if you spend one day with your grubby lunch hooks clutching cookies and cocktails and, if you have a friend like I do that has amazing skills in the kitchen (I’m looking at you, Paula), wonderful goodies that you’re just not going to get any other time of the year. Your body knows how to toss off toxins. It just can’t do it forever. (Exercise also helps your body get rid of the toxins, so next time you’re deep into the egg nog, set a time with yourself for the next day for a brisk walk or snowshoe.) And, thirdly, are pleasure piggies really only pleasure piggies during the holidays? (Nope.) Are we suddenly going to get up on the horse that one last time and stay there all year? (Nope. Nope.) You’re going to find other times all throughout the year that you, like it or not, fall off that horse. Time and time, again. You need to build the muscles to get back up the very next day, time and time again. Hopefully, over time, there are fewer face plants into indulgence, but they’re gonna happen. The holidays can certainly be a good training ground for building the muscles to drag yourself back into your healthier habits as quickly as possible.
So, that’s my plan. I plan to indulge my pleasure piggy. I plan to enjoy my friends and family. I plan to have lots of connections and FUN! And I plan to use that stirrup to get back in that saddle as many times as it takes to get through the holidays. Come to think of it, maybe that’s my plan for the rest of the year, too. That, and maybe trying a carrot or two from the buffet from time to time.