The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

November 27, 2011

Tom Lavis | Weighty season under way


— We are now beginning the toughest four weeks on the calendar for everyone worried about their weight.

Erma Bombeck, one of my favorite writers, once said that no one diets on Thanksgiving.

I can attest to that.

As our family bowed our heads in prayer, I gave thanks to our forefathers who set aside the fourth Thursday of November to eat all we want without feeling guilty.

Even with the best intentions of sticking to a diet, the Thanksgiving meal usually turns into a take-no-prisoners assault as the food is placed on the table.

Thanksgiving can oftentimes be the beginning of the end for many diets.

My dear friend Spider Horn began a diet on Veterans Day, wanting to lose a quick 20 pounds before New Year’s Eve.

“I want to look good when the ball drops at New Year’s,” he told me.

The only thing that dropped was his willpower.

After less than two weeks, he became a casualty of turkey day.

“I think I overdid it on Thanksgiving,” he said, trying to cover his belt buckle with his hand.

It looked like he had an extra hole punched in the belt, but it was hard to tell with his belly hanging over it.

Scientists at the Betty Crocker Institute for Yummy Things have proven that once a person breaks a diet at Thanksgiving, he or she becomes susceptible to the dreaded holiday baking syndrome.

The condition causes a person to crave things such as sugar cookies, nut rolls and anything chocolate-dipped, such as pretzels, doughnuts or macaroons.

Even if you never tasted a macaroon, just its name sounds like it should be the official cookie of Brigadoon, and it’s flavor is just as dreamy.

The only people I know who are dedicated to maintaining or losing weight in November are high school wrestlers as they shed every ounce for the upcoming season.

For those of us who hosted Thanksgiving dinners, this first Sunday after the holiday is the most appropriate day to empty the fridge of leftovers.

Once the leftover stuffing, turkey, sweet potatoes and pumpkin pie are devoured, the pans come out and the holiday baking season begins.

And with the baking comes the sampling.

My downfall is the Pizzelle. These little Italian waffle cookies are as much a holiday tradition at our house as the Christmas tree.

Once the waffle iron is plugged in, I can’t resist brewing coffee to wash down a few samples from each batch.

They come in several flavors, so testing is key.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

My battle cry from the last days of November until Christmas Eve is: “Let me taste that (insert name of any baked good here) to make sure it’s good enough to serve our guests.”

The next four weeks will test our mettle.

The stress increases as we continue our eat, drink and be merry journey toward Christmas.

Holiday parties begin in the first week of December and continue throughout the month.

All the hard work in the months before Thanksgiving can be lost as we are tempted with offers of tasty pies, chocolate and alcohol.

I find that even the most innocent thing can set off my hunger.

Even watching a Burger King commercial can send me over the edge. I’m in jeopardy of being detained by the diet police for exceeding the feed limit.

Stephen Hawking, director of research at the Center of Theoretical Cosmology at Cambridge University, is often thought to be the smartest man in the world.

If he says that eating like a hog during the holidays causes no long-term damage to the human body, we should believe him.

Now, all we have to do is get him to say it.

Overeating during these four weeks is why someone came up with the ideas of New Year’s resolutions and two-year memberships at health clubs.

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