It’s a jungle forest out there!

Last week, we hit up IKEA and I could not resist the wildlife cookie cutters. I had tried my hand at Eat, Live, Run’s old-fashioned gingerbread men the week before, and they were delicious, but I made them too thick and they appeared to have suffered molasses-dripping gunshot wounds. I knew the little animal shapes would be perfect for the cookies I was planning to make and send to family in Pennsylvania.

This time, I rolled them out nice and thin, and the end result was much better. But when you roll your dough out super thin, it creates a ton of cookies, so a lot of them ended up being squirrels because it was the easiest shape to use.

The moose were by far my favorites, though.

Holiday weight gain

I’m not going to tell you how to avoid gaining weight this time of year. Because you already know. Eat an apple before you go to the party, squeeze in extra minutes on the elliptical, take the stairs, choose the cocktail or dessert, but never both.

I knew those tips verbatim when I weighed 300 pounds, and I think most fat people do. They devour the “avoiding weight gain” features plastered across magazines, newspapers, blogs and morning talk shows, mentally archiving the tips but never actually doing any of them.

At least,  I didn’t.

I will tell you that my usual holiday strategy was to eat whatever I wanted — within reason. Have a cookie, try that dip, but don’t go nuts. There was the occasional cheese-and-cracker bender, for sure, but I never gave it much thought. It’s life. It happens.

Until this year.

I’m not sure if it’s the wedding (just more than six months away!) or the fact that I’ve started seeing a registered dietitian, but I am much more aware of everything I’m putting into my mouth. Because my RD is reinforcing what I already know: You can eat this stuff and maintain your weight, but you can’t eat it and continue to lose.

I know it’s the holidays. I know it’s important to treat yourself. I know indulgences are OK.

I also know that I want to lose more weight. And I know that these fabulous cookies, cocktails, dips and spreads will be around forever, but I want to lose weight now. So this year, I am much more conscious of exactly which treats I’m eating, and I am eating far fewer than any other holiday since 2005, when I started to lose weight.

It’s not easy, but it’s not as difficult as I thought it would be. I’ve spent the past five and a half years learning to be conscious of everything I put in my mouth.

And on that note, be sure to visit Bess’ post on Hollaback Health: Driven to Drink … By Health Magazines’ Holiday Issues. I’ll raise my glass to that! (If you missed it, my latest Hollaback Health post was Monday: Putting a Cap on Your Recaps.)