Point of No Return: The season of (physical) growth is upon us

The Battle of the Waistlands has begun.

Oh, it starts out innocently enough. Watching my daughter excitedly dump the contents of her trick-or-treat bag on to the living room floor after a night out begging our neighbors for candy gave me a smile as I thought back to my own innocent days trolling for sweets under the guise of a holiday.

The first Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup to hit the floor grabbed my attention. The second one changed the general feel-good vibes into “We have a situation on our hands.” The third one led to a candy tax.

“I’ll take that.”

“Hey! That’s my candy!”

“You see, Sweetie, in the real world, we have to pay for our services. You want shelter, right? And food? Protection? Well, you have to pay for that. And your current tax is a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup.”

“That’s not fair.”

“As your grandfather explained to me countless times, ‘Did anybody ever tell you life was fair?’ We don’t tolerate anarchists in this household, young lady. The tax just jumped to two peanut butter cups and a Snickers.”

She started to protest again, but thought better of it. Instead, she corralled all her candy into a small pile and defended it, like a lion protecting its fallen gazelle from other predators.

“We also don’t tolerate being selfish. That will cost you another peanut butter cup — oh, and that pack of Swedish Fish.”

And this is how it starts each fall.

I tell myself every October that this is the year I utilize discipline and self-control to navigate through the holiday season without taking on the form of the Epcot geosphere with legs. I have a plan, focused on utilizing proper diet and exercise most days, while still allowing myself to enjoy holiday meals with the family. It’s my “break-even” plan, and I figure if I can escape December in nearly the same body composition as I exited October, then, hey, good on me, right?

But, historically, it’s not good on me. It’s not even not-so-good on me. It’s usually, “Oh, boy. I look like a tick that’s about to explode, and I’m pretty sure I’m now sweating gravy out of every pore.”

Back off, ladies. I’m spoken for.

I know I’m not alone in this struggle, as the joke of people getting their “winter coat” is an old one. But when I’m using a pulley system and three industrial-size tankers of Vaseline to put on my jeans in the morning, it sure feels like I’m all alone. When I’m huffing and puffing from the strenuous activity of opening a bag of Doritos, I’m feeling alone. When I have to choose which shirt I’m wearing each morning based on what will look less like a circus big-top when I show up to work, I’m kind of feeling like I’m on an island.

And everyone knows the food options are awful on an island. Well, unless that island is Jamaica and we’re talking about jerked chicken and...

But I digress.

The problem with this time of year is that there isn’t one isolated food event to try to recover from by quickly getting back on the right track. It’s a series of culinary traps, one after another, based on the premise that you are spending quality time with your family around the dinner table.

Also, there are baked goods. So many baked goods! From now until January, every event I go to will feature homemade cookies and candies at every glance. There will be pumpkin pies around every corner, and... nah, forget it. I was doomed at pie.

You want to know why the majority of New Year’s resolutions are based on diet, exercise and earning more money? Because by the time the New Year rolls around we are all broke, fat and wheezing. Sorry, I didn’t mean to drag all of you into the sewer with me. Every New Year I find myself broke, fat and wheezing.

As Americans, we have collectively perfected the art of gluttony. We eat, we spend, we consume energy and resources, and we start the process all over again. We became great because of our can-do spirit and thirst for greatness and excellence. We’ve become fat because of our hunger for… well, let’s just start with our hunger.

I blame the holidays for this, especially because it’s far easier and more convenient for me to blame anything other than myself for my own shortcoming. Hey, that’s the American way, too!