Human willpower built the pyramids, traveled to the moon and split the atom. It enabled Evel Knievel to attempt to leap the Grand Canyon on a motorcycle, and Annie Edson Taylor to plunge over Niagara Falls inside a pickle barrel. It compelled Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay Sherpa to climb Mount Everest and Joshua Slocum to sail alone around the world.

But human willpower is no match against gingerbread lattes, holiday cheese balls and Aunt Betty’s Peanut Butter Fudge.

Every year, I tell myself, “Lisa, you will NOT gain weight this holiday season!” But like a twig on the shoulders of a mighty stream, I am useless to fight it.

My organs grow fatty between Halloween and New Year’s Eve, like some kind of forced-fed fois gras duck, as I careen helplessly through the annual gantlet of gobble. As sure as the change in seasons, the shifting tides and dryer lint, I drift mindlessly into these cyclical food-related events of life, and before I know it, there’s no escape.

It all starts with the irresistible perils of fall, when we are inundated with warm donuts and fresh apple cider, spicy football wings and cold beer, and pumpkin-spiced this-that-and-the-other. We feel compelled to indulge ourselves; after all, the season wouldn’t seem right without these traditional delicacies.

But then, Halloween kicks it up a notch. Bam! When I’ve finished consuming all the leftover Halloween candy and reach my maximum level of personal disgust, I make a futile effort to “get healthy.” For a few days, maybe a week if I’m lucky, I attempt to cleanse myself of excess calories, believing naively that this will be the year that I make it through the season without gaining 10 pounds.

Yeah, right.

Before I know it, it’s Thanksgiving, and my pantry is stuffed to the gills with brown sugar, chocolate chips, pecans, corn syrup, canned pumpkin, cranberry sauce, chicken broth, cornbread mix and those french-fried onion thingies that go on top of the green bean casserole. My refrigerator groans under the weight of sticks of butter, sweet potatoes, green beans, onions, a 20-pound turkey and a jar of miniature sweet pickles for the relish tray.

Resistance is, most definitely, futile.

On Thanksgiving Day, I cook for more than 20, and serve less than 10. After toiling over the meal for so many thankless hours, I insist on mercilessly cramming my innards with my own work product. Uncomfortably full, I reach for seconds, then thirds, as my expanding gut compresses my lung capacity. Taking shallow breaths, I sample the desserts — “just a sliver of each” — as I ignore the nausea signals my stomach sends to my brain. I know the next bite might send me hurling to the nearest toilet, but I take it anyway. This self-destructive binge continues until I flop, engorged and panting, onto the couch.

Despite vowing the next day to “never eat again,” I channel my mother’s Depression-era ethic against wasting food and spend the next two weeks consuming the Thanksgiving leftovers as turkey noodle soup, turkey divan, hot turkey sandwiches, cold turkey sandwiches, turkey tetrazzini, turkey enchiladas and turkey potpie.

When the turkey is finally gone, I officially surrender and start wearing my fat jeans in anticipation of the holiday food frenzy to come. Helpless to avoid it, overeating becomes my job. Every day I get up, punch the clock, and belly up to the mandatory feast of the season.

Overconsumption reaches its pinnacle around Christmas time, when, in my weakened state, I succumb to the cheese dip, spiral ham, eggnog, candy canes, prime rib, hot cocoa, mixed nuts, red and green M&Ms and, of course, the cookies. Oh, the cookies.

As my chins double, my inner dialogue attempts to justify the gluttony.

“My belly button disappeared.”

That’s what holiday sweaters are for.

“There’s a roll on my back.”

Now it matches your front.

And inevitably, when I emerge from the gantlet, bloated and dizzy, I admit to myself, “I’ve gained 10 pounds.”

Consider yourself lucky. Now you have a New Year’s resolution.

Read more of Lisa Smith Molinari’s columns at: Email:

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