As everybody else gets into the holiday spirit, the buttons on my pants and the springs in my bathroom scale start getting really nervous.

That's because packing on pounds is one of my holiday traditions. Kinda like when I say "daddy-only" words while hanging lights or when I'm thoughtfully searching for the perfect gift for my wife on the male version of Black Friday, otherwise known as Dec. 24.

Though my diet and resolve took a pounding Thanksgiving weekend (read: somebody gained weight while making up for celebrating turkey day in the maternity ward last year), I'm committed to make this year different.

And by different, I mean that the pants my wife makes me try on in the dressing room while Christmas shopping in early December will still actually fit when I go to wear them on Dec. 26.

To ensure my success, I even joined a "Maintain-Don't-Gain" competition at work. A few co-workers started it either as a way to help us minimize the season's eatings damage or as a practical joke to see how much weight I'd gain.

Either way, having that extra motivation seems to help. Heck, I haven't even had one vision of a sugar plum nor been tempted to sneak a nibble of the carolers' figgy pudding.

The hardest part, I fear, is yet to come — all the parties.

Some of these holiday happenings have to be held in gymnasiums and churches to accommodate all the guests, fat grams and calories that show up.

My problem at these family festive feasts is that I keep circling the food table like the train circles the Christmas tree at the home of my wife's great uncle and aunt (at least when the little boys let it stay on the track, but you get the point). And the more I chew-chew, the more my caboose expands.

Another challenge is that our society seems to insist on giving gifts that keep on giving, too. Well-intentioned friends, family members, neighbors, co-workers — heck, even the home teachers — tend to offer presents that are packaged in plastic wrap or a box with scary nutritional info on it. It's highly likely that if the wise men were following the star of Bethlehem today, they'd be carrying chocolate cherries and cheeseballs instead of frankincense and myrrh.

So, what's a man on a diet to do?

OK, besides ask for pants in a size bigger?

Part of my plan is to enjoy everything that is usually only available during the holidays, but to do it in moderation. Indulging in small amounts of holiday treats — fruitcake being the exception — might not help me lose 20 pounds this month, but it might help me from raiding the Christmas tree for edible ornaments in the middle of the night. And that should help me have happier New Year's resolutions.

At the same time, I'm going to work hard to fit in exercise, keep track of what I eat, stay away from the eggnog and truffles, be extra good on non-party days, and try to help my pants and scale with their bah-humbugish holiday attitudes.

And in the spirit of goodwill and Christmas cheer — and friendly competition — my co-workers just might receive several extra boxes of turtles and toffee.


Jody Genessy, whose weight-loss column runs the first Friday of the month, wishes you and your diet a very Merry Christmas.