In Puerto Rico, they will call me Santa Julia

Yesterday, I performed a miracle. Perhaps not the kind the Catholic church -- with its fussy rules and stringent standards -- would recognize. I didn't turn water into wine or heal lepers or any such thing. No, this was a far greater accomplishment for someone like me: I made it through Thanksgiving while sticking to my food plan. In case the magnitude of this feat has not fully hit you, allow me to repeat myself: I did not gorge myself yesterday, I did not use it as an excuse to eat everything in sight, to drown myself in refined sugar. No, I actually stuck within my daily calorie count and came out a winner. I'm a winner! I also did something else that could bump up against miracle status -- I went to the Y in the morning. Chris and I figured a brief workout was a good defense before heading out to a friend's house for the afternoon meal. It seemed a novel idea and I pictured us practically owning the Y, the only two people in Ann Arbor good and dedicated enough to pursue fitness on this day of gluttony.

It turns out I was wrong, if you can even wrap your mind around that. We weren't the only people there. In fact, the place was LOUSY with people frantically plying the handle bars on the elliptical machine, puffing away to earn one...more...bite...of...yams. Who ARE all these people who take their fitness so seriously? Crazy fuckers.

At our Y, part of the exercise room has a large window overlooking the pool area, which was absolutely packed with men and small children, likely ejected from their households so that the moms could actually get something done. It was a happy sight.

But back to my triumph...what have I learned? How did I stay so healthy, so focused on Turkey Day? One, getting invited to someone else's house is a great idea, because not only do you avoid cleaning and cooking, but you avoid the scads of leftovers that you will -- no matter what you tell yourself -- consume in the night. Two, asked to contribute an appetizer, I brought a giant plate of raw veggies and dip. Now, I know that raw veggies and dip are not exactly fun. Everyone hates them. BUT if you force yourself to eat a handful of raw broccoli and cauliflower, you're so full of roughauge, you can't fit that many crackers with goat cheese dipped in olive oil down your gullet. (Although you might give it a shot.)

Our hostess prepared an abundance of fabulous food, but the interesting thing was that -- blessedly, though not planned -- the bread and potatoes never made it to the table. We had heaping bowls of roast veggies, a giant dish of sausage and mushroom stuffing, loads of turkey, two kinds of cranberry relish (including a low-sugar variety I made and brought so I wouldn't be tempted) and some amazing onions that were roasted in olive oil until they were sweet and caramely and falling apart. We even forgot the starter salad.

In other words, there was tons of food and most of it was relatively healthy, plus I am -- at 37 -- still trying on for size this novel idea that just because food is in front of you doesn't actually mean you have to eat it all. Or even as much as you can without vomiting. Strange, eh?

Sure, there were three pumpkin pies and one apple pie for six people -- which, in days past would have seemed like terrific odds. But I had one bite of each and was done. I realize as I type this that most of these ramblings will be of little interest to many readers. I also know that there are those too who struggle with food and health issues every day as I do. All I know is that nothing makes a difference to my general health, my energy level, my food cravings the way avoiding refined sugar and white flour does. I know not everyone's like this, but for me, they set off some sort of chemical carnival of blood sugar and madness.

But so far I'm two weeks into my latest attempt to avoid either evil substance and at least I know that if I wind up face down in a plate of my sister's brickle bars, I'll likely make my way back to this way of eating eventually. It's not easy to do, but I may finally be old enough where my health and the way I feel and what my body's telling me trumps my self-destructive impulses to consume with abandon. Well, for today, at least.