Uncle Bill is making his usual loud attacks on your kids’ dressing habits. Your mother is hovering over everything you are doing in the kitchen. Your husband is in a heated political argument with his brother, a pot is boiling over, your baby nephew is howling and you are ready to scream. You were up all night working on this Christmas dinner that no one seems to be paying any attention to. You are fatigued, you think because you are tired. You feel a little short of breath. You feel some palpitations. Then you faint and next thing you know there are oxygen prongs up your nose, needles and tubes in your arms and pinging noises all around you. The doctor says you had a little heart attack and they are going to open up a clogged artery. Me? How could that be? I’m a forty-year-old woman in great health – this doesn’t happen to people like me! (Yes, it does, more often than you would think.)
It snowed, heavy and wet, you’ve got to go to work. That kid from the neighborhood with the shovel is nowhere to be found. Swearing to yourself, you go out and start to shovel a path to your car and to open the driveway to get to work. Halfway through an elephant steps on your chest and you cry out for help. Luckily an ambulance comes soon and you are off to the hospital.
You look in the mirror, pull your stomach in and feel pretty good about how you look. You’ve spent months watching what you eat and exercising regularly and now it is really paying off. People at work and your boss are looking at you differently and your wife is very approving. Then comes the first office party. Lots of great food and afterwards you and the guys go out for a bunch of beers. You can afford it because look how trim you are. Two weeks later, after many more rounds of holiday partying, you look again and wonder who that paunchy guy in the mirror is. Six months of careful living down the drain in two weeks.
The holiday season is great and should be enjoyed full tilt. We all need that pause in our overscheduled, overloaded lives full of modern angst and stress.
However, just like waking up with a hangover and discovery of awful things you did while drunk the night before makes it clear that the prior night’s binge just plain cost you too much, so does overdoing partying. Heart attacks and strokes sure take the fun out of the holidays!
You can have healthy fun! You can really enjoy the holiday season and not overdo, not embarrass yourself, not end up feeling really lousy later on. Just a little measure of reason can go a very long way.
Will you start January for the better or for the worse? Will you be full of regrets or proud as a peacock at how well you did in the face of great excess temptation? It is your life to live and only you will either reap the rewards or the pains. Good luck!
Michael E. Makover, MD FACP, Chief Medical Officer JIBEI