Thanksgiving, Part II


 Friends constructing tables on Thanksgiving Day, 2012.

Weight Loss To Date: 48 Pounds

So my husband read my blog last week and pointed something out to me: The year we had 60 people for dinner? The year that my guests took it upon themselves to build new tables for our dining room on Thanksgiving Day? The year I drank too much?

That was all the same year.

That was three years ago. I know the last two Thanksgivings were a bit less crazy, but I am not sure how, because I wasn’t really intentional in my approach to make things better for myself. Oh, I limited my guest list and my wine consumption, and nixed major construction projects. But really I just barreled through as best I could.

I feel both apprehensive and optimistic this year.

Apprehensive because we are in a new house, and this is our first Thanksgiving here. I am not sure if we really have enough room for everyone, although my cheerful husband promises me we will.  My kitchen is smaller, and I am still getting used to it. I worry that old habits will kick in and I’ll find myself saying:

“Oh, what the heck, let’s just go ahead and cook a few extra turkeys so that we have drippings to make homemade gravy, and I’ll just make my fabulous, time-consuming, super messy mashed potato casserole for 50+ people, even though I already have a simpler plan. I don’t mind running out to the store last minute and buying 40 pounds of spuds.”

Even writing this I feel an old pull, like I am being The Grinch for giving myself permission to make it easier on myself this year. And that, I think, is the heart of the matter. This is not just about Thanksgiving.

This year I have lost about half the weight I ultimately want to lose, and I can say without a doubt that the biggest challenge has not, in fact, been the food. It has been about confronting my old ways of thinking and doing that always lead to overeating.

Years ago I heard my friend Steven Kalas, a therapist and Episcopalian priest, say something interesting. He was trying to clarify some issue quite unrelated to weight loss but he said, “It’s like someone who has lost 100 pounds. They just are not the same person anymore.” At the time I thought: “That can’t be true. If I ever lost 100 pounds I would be just the same person, only, you know, slimmer.” I thought about it more, and came to the conclusion that I would be different after I lost the weight. How could I not be? People would look at me differently, maybe treat me differently, I would feel more confident, etc.

But I know something I didn’t know before. I have to be a different person right this minute, during the process, to get this weight off and keep it off. I am having to change myself from the inside out, not the other way around. God, that sounds so trite. But really, it is true. Putting my health first is a huge departure for me. Looking at almost everything I do as an opportunity to move closer or further away from my goal of better health and weight loss is a way of thinking I never entertained before. Not giving up, no matter what, is just astonishing in terms of the results it has yielded. Taking the slow route (which affords treats, mistakes, and holiday meals along the way) instead of looking for another quick fix and giving up after a bad day? So, so new to me.

That is where the optimism comes in. I have almost a whole year now of solid evidence that I am capable of change. I can change my relationship with Thanksgiving, too.


I said last week that I would elaborate on my Thanksgiving plans, so here goes. I am cooking today, working ahead of time while it is quiet and peaceful in my house. I am prepping food for the other six dinners of the week, too. Thanksgiving is only one meal, not an excuse to go crazy all week. In addition to cutting back on the sheer amount of food, walking every day, and getting lots of help, I went to bed early last night, and plan to get a good night’s sleep all week. At the end of the day, when there still seems like there is so much to do, I have to just trust that we’ll get it done – or won’t – but either way Thanksgiving will still be grand because of the people who will gather here. Because I know the feast, the shared meal, and being with family and friends will fill up my soul as well as my belly. If I let it.

I will check in next week and let you know how it goes. Happy Thanksgiving!




6 thoughts on “Thanksgiving, Part II

  1. “I have to be a different person right this minute, during the process, to get this weight off and keep it off. I am having to change myself from the inside out, not the other way around.”


    Feeling thankful you are in my life. And feeling thankful for the generous and authentic inspiration you share.

    Happy Thanksgiving, Jen!


  2. Was thinking that if you war/need some help today or tomorrow, I am ready, willing and able. I can be your sous chef (or shoe chef as Maddie used to say when she was 4) if you want a helper. Your observations are spot on. Lisa


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