Editor’s Note: The bottom of this column was inadvertently cut off when it was originally posted to the website on Dec. 1. It’s now available in its entirety.
There is good and bad news on the fat front … or fat back, depending on where your holiday food eventually settles.
Researchers have learned that we will gain an average of a little more than a pound this week, which is far better than the 5 pounds of weight some had assumed Americans would average during the holiday week.
When last we “spoke,” The Ackerman Clan was preparing a Thanksgiving feast, and I’m happy to report that it went according to plan. We spent most of the day preparing the meal and maybe an hour eating it.
And while we were preparing the feast, we snacked.
I assume most of you had the same experience, which is where the average pound of fat comes from.
The other bit of bad news is that we’ll gain 500 percent more weight this week than what we’ll average in the remaining 51 weeks. Unfortunately, unless we lose weight during at least one of those 51 weeks, we’ll gain a pound a year the rest of our lives.
I know, most of us will have a week where we’ll lose at least a pound, even if we don’t go to the gym.
It’s called the flu, and it’s not the best weight-loss program in the world because, well, you could die.
It’s tough to avoid food this time of year. Enablers surround us, trying to shove food down our throats every time we turn around.
If I got locked inside The News-Review building I could survive for at least a month on the cookies, pie, chicken and doughnuts scattered throughout the building. And that doesn’t even include the stuff in the snack machines and refrigerator.
Someone once said temptation resisted is the truest sign of character. If that’s true, I’m in trouble. I can’t resist a snack. If there is a cookie or tortilla chip lying around, there’s a great chance it’s going in my mouth.
I run a few miles on the treadmill three or four times a week, but I may as well run with a feedbag attached to my head, for all the good it does. I get home from the gym and go straight to the cookie or chip cabinet. It’s an automated response similar to one of Pavlov’s dogs.
I blame daylight saving time for some of the problems. As soon as it gets dark at 5, all I want to do after work is go home and eat.
And it doesn’t help that I surround myself with people who like snacks just as much as I do. It’s kind of like a crack addict who keeps going to a crack house and wonders why he can’t kick the habit.
“Hi, my name is Jeff and I love Oreos.”
“Hi, Jeff! We love Oreos, too! Welcome!”
Many of the same researchers who determined that we “only” gain an average of a pound this week also debunked the notion that turkey makes us sleepy.
As you probably know by now, turkey meat includes what is called tryptophan, which is an amino acid that helps create serotonin, a brain chemical that can create a feeling of well-being and that the body can subsequently convert into melatonin, a brain chemical that regulates sleep cycles.
But in order for the turkey meat to actually make you sleepy, you’d have had to eat it on an empty stomach, according to researchers. And most of us probably don’t do that.
What really makes us sleepy on Thanksgiving is the booze and desserts. It’s kind of like going to Mexico on vacation, drinking 10 shots of tequila and then blaming the water for your bellyache the next morning.
“I’m feeling a little tired,” says Uncle Bill, crushing the last of six beer cans he’s consumed over the previous two hours.
“Must be the tryptophan in the turkey,” says Aunt Martha, while the rest of the table solemnly nods in agreement.
“Damned tryptophan,” says Uncle Bill. “Think I’ll go take a nap on the couch.”
“I told him to slow down on the turkey,” Aunt Martha says, picking up the beer cans.
As we know, this is just the beginning. There’s a long way to go between now and New Year’s Day and thousands of cookies in between.
I’m looking straight in the eyes of a pound a week for the next four to five weeks unless I learn a little self-discipline.
Let’s give it a shot.
“Would you like a cookie?”
“You sure? Just one?”
“No, really. I’m good.”
“Come on! Just have one. My wife made them by hand!”
“OK. Just one then.”
See? Easier said than done. I just don’t see any way around it. I’ll just have to suck it up (every crumb) and work it off when this holiday season blows over.
Crank up the treadmill and lock the kitchen cabinet doors. Daddy is on his way home.
• Jeff Ackerman is publisher of The News-Review. He can be reached at 541-957-4263 or firstname.lastname@example.org.