The Quintanas, Week 12: Of Christmas Phobias (and Flans)

Filed under: Healthy Families Challenge

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All dolled up in smaller-sized clothes! Credit: Star Soto

The holidays frighten me, but never like they have this year.

Whose bright idea was it to start the Healthy Families Challenge shortly before the holidays? No, seriously, I want to know!

Even though the holiday season is a time for people to get together and celebrate -- and it is truly supposed to be a season of sacrificial giving -- it puts me a little on edge. People give me stuff alright! They give me an elbow as they shove by me to get to that last toy. They give me icky hand signals as they steal my parking space at Walmart. They give me an expanded vocabulary of words that I don't use -- and prefer that my children don't, either.

And so, I become slightly agoraphobic at this time of year.

I guess a little background might help explain. I, believe it or not, am not a city girl. I am from good 'ole North Carolina. Tarheel blue is one of my favorite colors, and the sweet scent of Christmas trees growing in my neighbors' yard is what I crave. Back home, the malls are not overcrowded, even at their craziest. You know everyone there (or at least who they're visiting).

Living in the city, I feel like l'm on a totally different planet. Everything is louder, busier, and faster. It's not that Miami is not a beautiful place -- it is gorgeous -- but rather that, I guess, after 10 years here, I still have not found where I fit in.

Then there is what really scared me this year: the amazing spread that a lot of people where we live put together for the holidays. Christmas Eve is BIG here, with a traditional latin meal consisting of roasted pork, Con Gris (a rice dyed with black beans and seasoned with more pork), Yucca con Mojo (yucca = a very starchy vegetable, and mojo = a sauce made of oil and fried garlic), plantains (a sweet banana, fried to perfection), lots of espresso and, of course, my ever-famous flan (a custard dessert made with sugar, eggs, condensed milk and evaporated milk).

I may be invited to the party, but I may not be allowed entry if The Flan does not accompany me.

Now, I ask again, whose bright idea was it to start this challenge shortly before the holidays?

What was my plan of action? I did not accept any Christmas Eve invites this year. I planned my own dinner, at home, in my pajamas. We did have the classic, delicious menu, but a lot less of it than usual. I let people know that they were welcome to join us (in their pajamas), but that I would not have the expected overabundance of food. You see, everyone in my family and my husband's knows that when I cook, there are leftovers for days. Not this year!

Okay, we all got plenty to eat.

To offset this meal (and more to come), we have been pushing the exercise. Luckily, I have been able to make it to Pranoga to take yoga every Monday; but unfortunately with the crazy hours at work and holiday planning, it has been a week and a half since we all made it to our home away from home, American Top Team Doral. The Little Gym of Doral is on a two-week hiatus for the holidays, so Chloe, my youngest, and the other kids have not gotten much activity.

I am, however, proud to announce that David, my husband, has picked up the slack. No, he is not cooking! But he is keeping us all in check. Most of all me. At least three times a week he is putting me through a set of 200 sit ups, 25 push ups and 50 squats, right here at home. He tells me, "If we cannot get to the exercise, we will bring the exercise to us!"

He also brings our healthy-eating convictions with us wherever we go. At a recent dinner out, instead of doing the typical appetizers, big soup bowl, entrée and dessert, we turned the bowl into a cup, and cut out both the appetizers and the dessert. We were also reminded not to clean the plates, but to eat until we were satisfied. All this wonderful wisdom came from -- guess who? -- Mr. I Used to Eat My Cereal Out of an Oversized Mixing Bowl.

Not only were we very proud of David; we felt quite proud of ourselves for really taking this challenge seriously even when it seems impossible.

Christmas Day? No comment!

Who's the rest of the competition? Check out all the challengers' latest updates here.



How is the Quintana family doing? Check in on their progress!

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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.