Volume 12, Issue 9 ~ February 26-March 3, 2004

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Bay Reflections

Pride Goeth Before a Fall … and After Holiday Feasts
by Vivian I. Zumstein

Hubris. I heard it the first time when I was 38 and had to look it up. Hubris: overbearing pride; arrogance. Yeah, that describes me at the beginning of the past holiday season.

Every year for as long as I can remember, my New Year’s Resolution has been to lose weight. Not a ton of it, but like most women, I have always thought I would be more appealing 20 pounds lighter. I had spent past Januaries losing the five pounds I gained over Christmas before motivation waned. The rest of the unwanted weight remained my close companion. Somehow, dieting in February is not as attractive as it is right after having gorged with abandon on holiday treats. In January, apples, carrots and non-fat yogurt provide relief — temporarily.

I thought this year would be different. Last March I got fed up, joined Weight Watchers and took off 25 pounds. Yippee! I lost weight everywhere. I had to shorten the leather strap on my wristwatch by a half an inch. I even had to buy smaller bras, though many may not consider that a positive.

I was in the last few weeks of Weight Watchers’ maintenance phase in early December. I’d already survived Thanksgiving, a one-day temptation. I thought I had this weight thing licked. A friend asked what my New Year’s Resolution was. “Well, it sure won’t be to lose weight!” I bragged.


How could I have forgotten the overabundance of the Christmas season? Food lurked everywhere, leaping out just when my willpower was at its weakest. Chocolate lounged in festive green and red bowls on desks at work. Tempting. Teasing. To give in just once led to addiction. The same bowl seduced me time and time again. The coffee room overflowed with brownies, crock-pots of simmering sausages, fudge and a never-ending mountain of festive cookies. This daily onslaught was provided by generous coworkers who were either so skinny the extra food didn’t matter or so heavy they were looking to create company.

Work held no unique position on the diet-busting list. Holiday parties provided plenty of competition, with the added complication of alcohol. After a couple of glasses of wine, the sumptuous food looked even better. My pitiful resistance evaporated.

Perhaps home was the worst of all. Home is where traditions are, many of which come baked, sautéed or slathered in whipped cream. My biggest challenge was holiday baking. I wore my great grandmother’s ancient, yellowed apron and indulged in childhood memories of Christmas baking with my mother as my daughter and I worked together. We giggled as we wrapped our tongues around beaters, snatched bits of dough and taste-tested our product. As comforting smells wafted from the oven, I blocked from my mind that the recipes started with a pound or two of butter to which I’d added a pound of sugar. Even after baking, the cookies continued to whisper my name from their hidden tins, concealed from my family but not from me. Like sirens enticing a sailor toward the rocks, they called me to the basement.

Christmas gifts presented another serious hurdle. What do you give to friends who have all they need? Food, of course. Chocolates cascaded from boxes under the tree. A liqueur-soaked cake proved irresistible. I couldn’t throw them away. I had to eat them. They were gifts! Limited budgets produced a bumper crop of Lindt chocolates from my children. “Here, Mamma! Eat the one I gave you.” How can a mother refuse?

I had no idea how much weight I gained; I avoided the scale. Still, a snug belt revealed that some pounds had crept back. Not enough to rush out to buy new bras, but enough to force me in February to make a belated, yet all too familiar New Year’s Resolution of losing weight.

Pride goeth before the fall! Ah, hubris.

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Last updated February 26, 2004 @ 1:12am.