The Attack of the Christmas Cookie

During the last couple of months of the year, I typically shrug my shoulders when it comes to fitness and health. “It’s impossible to eat well and exercise this time of the year,” I’ve told myself in the past, “so might as well not bother.” Of course it’s not impossible. It’s just really, incredibly, almost impossible. Especially when my favorite thing appears: The Christmas Cookie.

I was raised in a family of bakers, and Christmas cookies have always been an important tradition. Thus, I can name every Christmas cookie under the snow. I can argue the merits of exactly what constitutes a Christmas cookie. If “Christmas cookies” were a trivia category, I would single handedly carry my team to victory.

I am not throwing my fitness and health out to the cold Chicago wind this year. My 2012 holiday goal has been to maintain my weight throughout the season. But the Christmas cookies are coming. In fact, they are already here. I will be miserable if I turn my back to the most delectable treats of the year. I will also be miserable if I gorge myself on every Christmas cookie in sight. If there an in between? Yes, yes, I know. Moderation. We’ve all heard it a million times. I can tell you from experience, however, that Christmas cookies and moderation don’t mix.

Two Christmas cookie-themed events would be especially challenging this year. First was the full day of baking Christmas cookies with my aunt and mom that I absolutely could not miss, nor did I want to. Second was the Christmas cookie exchange at work that I also felt I could not miss, because it would sadden me to know all my coworkers were merrily exchanging cookies without me. I considered not participating in this, but I did not want to be a Christmas cookie grinch.

For the family baking day, I decided I would only sample ONE of each cookie. That kind of worked. I needed to eat two or three of my favorites because they were so tasty. But I could have done a lot worse and eaten way more. The real problem was the leftovers. I brought home a giant container layered six high with peanut butter blossoms, chocolate cherry cordials, fudge, and more. As much as I loved every single cookie as if it were my own child and did not want to part with one previous crumb, I knew I could not leave them at home. I have no self control and would make myself sick. So off to work the cookies would go, where they would be loved and devoured by my appreciative coworkers.

For the cookie exchange, which required each person participating to make three dozen cookies so they could take home two dozen, I decided I would only do the baking and bringing part. I didn’t need to take home two dozen cookies. Or, I’d take my share and offer them up to my other coworkers who did not participate in the exchange.

In both situations, I would be able to enjoy a lot of the things that Christmas cookies represent for me: tradition, time spent with my family, spreading good cheer, and even a little bit of eating. But, I could cut out the bad parts of Christmas cookies, which includes too-tight jeans, tummy aches, sugar headaches, guilt, and derailing of fitness goals.

So yes, maybe I am taking the right steps towards moderation. Or balance, or compromise, or whatever you’d like to call it. Above all, it feels good to be in control of the Christmas cookies instead of the Christmas cookies being in control of me. Speaking of, would you like a Christmas cookie? I have tons.

- Betsy Mikel