Extra holiday pounds still the same-old story

Extra holiday pounds still the same-old story


By Barbara Parent

How many days has it been and how many low-cal lunches and dinners later and maybe, just maybe, there are five less pound on the old frame?

This first-of-the-year drop the extra holiday pounds business is like a “Casablanca” rerun. It’s still the same old story, a fight for thin and svelte a case of water-packed tuna and still those hips keep getting wider, as time goes by.

The more meals I consume under 900 calories, the more I’m beginning to question the theory I remember reading about a few years back. Seems a person’s ideal weight is not determined by the figures listed under an appropriate frame size and height chart but by his or hers very own body.

Seems all we have to do is shut the Atkins and South Beach books, quit counting calories and points, stop home delivery meals and understand that cells that determine our weight are going to do just exactly as they’ve been programmed since childhood.

Forget the gain 10 pounds, lose 10 pounds, gain 10 pounds, lose 10 pounds hogwash. Our bodies will settle in quite nicely where they are most comfortable. Sounds a bit like settling down on rainy Saturday to binge on a Netflix series.

And yet, it has its repercussions. After all, nothing is as simple as it seems. Looking at the black-and-white snapshots of our family from late ‘40s and ‘50s I have some concerns.

I notice the second and third snap on my cousin Johnny’s jacket a big strained around his middle. He’s perhaps all of eight at the time and like the rest of us cousins, goes to our grandparents’ house every Sunday for dinner. This is back in the days when our fathers are glued to the television set in the sunroom watching Mickey Mantle clobber home runs while our mothers are in the kitchen waiting for the macaroni water to boil. This is back in the days when our grandparents plopped spoonfuls of ricotta cheese on the homemade dough they rolled out on the enamel topped kitchen table, then gently covered the cheese with another layer of dough. We cousins eagerly watched as they sliced into the dough making it into squares then crimped each with a fork knowing that eventually the tiny pillows would wind up in a large soup bowl in front of each of us.

Oh, we could be outside, playing Yankees against the Red Sox in street baseball with the neighborhood kids. But we were Italians. And Sunday dinners could reap great rewards if we spent the time inside, close to that simmering pot of sauce that a kid got to test with a chunk of Grandma’s homemade bread.

Looking at the old snapshots, I see round faces and solid legs. Our knees are not knobby and our bodies far from lanky. Our mothers buy us clothing that today is labeled, “the relaxed fit.” In time we outgrow the “baby fat.”

But, does it ever forget?

As health conscious adults we’re embraced low-fat and skim, balanced portions and fewer carbs. We’ve worked at maintaining an ideal weight. Our indulgence, a pizza slice with a crust as thin as a saltine and if there is a smile on our faces it is but the memory of grandma’s homemade “apizz” so thick and cut into pieces so large we had to hold them with both hands.

I still dream about large brown grocery bags our grandmother would fill with fried dough sprinkled with granulated sugar. The grease spots would already be spreading as we cousins took our bags outside sat on the curb and ate every last ring. Trust my body to stop at where it’s comfortable? Put trust in the cells programmed in our childhood?

I don’t know what my cousins would think about the theory. But, somehow, I get the feeling my fat cells have been spending the past decades on a straight-back chair, just waiting for the chance to spread out in one of those oversized recliners.

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