Sing along now, everyone: Its the most guilt-ridden time of the year.
Weight Watchers spots have replaced the champagne and chocolate ads on TV.
Mere weeks ago, people were fighting for parking spots at malls. Now the same hordes are circling gym lots, stalking those poor folks who are dragging their post-workout bodies achingly to their cars.
And in magazines, instead of recipes for delights like sugar cookies and standing rib roast, youre more likely to see Dont Throw Out Those Christmas Trees! Turn Them Into High-Fiber Fat-Burning Salad!
Deck the halls with boughs of kale. Fa, la, la, indeed.
I have a declaration to make.
Just as many people decry the rampant commercialization of the holidays, I refuse to participate in the January mass-marketing of guilt. I decline to regret one single bourbon ball, piece of Moravian sugar cake or Hanukkah latke of December.
If you think latkes are safe from criticism because theyre made from vegetables, youre wrong. In January, they are regarded as carbs fried in the Hot Oil of Doom.
No matter what anyone says, I will not sentence myself to 20-mile hikes and a diet of crushing remorse and spinach-peanut butter-flaxseed smoothies.
As for exercise, I already have a plan and everyone in my neighborhood knows about part of it. Its called the Procrastination Walk. The number of times I circle the block is directly related to how much Im putting off writing. Some neighbors even call out to me, Hey, having trouble with that lead again?
The neighbors may know about another part of the plan, too, if they open their windows or have sensitive dogs: playing the fiddle.
I checked several online nutrition sites and found that playing the violin burns between 100 and 170 calories an hour, depending on your weight and, no doubt, skill level. My six years of dabbling is probably at the low end from, say, Cape Breton fiddler Natalie MacMaster. I saw this woman dance and play through an entire concert while eight-and-a-half months pregnant and wearing a red sequined top that made her look like a bouncing disco ball. She was probably hitting at least 180 calories, since she was burning for two.
I believe that fiddle playing is more of a fat-burner than classy violin playing. I have to walk back and forth to the beer and snacks table during Celtic music sessions.
Youve probably heard what the difference is between a violin and a fiddle: A fiddle is what you get when you pour beer on a violin.
Seriously, other than the refreshments, theyre the same instrument. The difference is the type of music you play.
I havent found any nutrition figures on the finer points of my fiddle exercise program, such as when Im in a group and the others start up a tune I cant recognize. Does cruising along on the A and D strings until my brain kicks in burn fewer or more calories? I could argue either way.
How about that upper-body stretch while rosining the bow? Or the frustrated stomping when I mess up a section, again?
I could change up my routine and really feel the burn by fulfilling my lifelong dream of joining a marching band as a flaming baton twirler. Baton twirling in a marching band burns about 200 calories an hour. Carrying the fire extinguisher ought to double that number.
But playing the fiddle should at least cover the calories of the beer consumed. I guess Im on my own for the guacamole and cheese.