I hail from the land of Nelson Mandela, Charlize Theron, and (formerly) Oscar Pistorius. Indeed, the welcoming embrace of South Africa will envelop me again next month as my husband and I go back for Christmas to spend time with both my immediate and extended relatives. I love the presents and eating part of Christmas. Since my husband and family take the whole birthday of Jesus part quite seriously, we have decided to take a full range of Starbucks cups.

However, Christmas in South Africa is bang in the middle of summer. Bizarrely, we still celebrate the holiday like you cultural colonials who have influenced us: with fake snow on our windows and hang models of snowmen on the Christmas tree, despite seasonal temperatures that can take your beer from fridge to room temperature faster than the world can get over a bombing in Beirut.

The severest consequence of having this holiday in the summer, however, is the crash dieting and exercise regimen that is now taking place in this household; with yoga and lemon-water replacing couch slobbing and cheap wine, while cheese platters piled with little treasures from

Trader Joe’s exist merely in the imagination. I’m currently trying every available way to make a Wasa cracker taste good without smearing some fatty, delicious, artery-clogging, mass-growing goodness on top, but my efforts are thus far no more successful than trying to get a Georgia motorist to move out of the passing lane.

My husband has an alternative approach. For every minute I spent wolfing Doritos on the couch, watching old episodes of “Roseanne” while trying not to let my chips fall about me (acting out Dan, really), he spends four minutes running. Even HE is watching what he eats before we jet off to South Africa, and he has the figure of an actual athlete—you know, the people who can fit in clothes without an X in the size. You know the seven-minute workout? He does the 28 minute workout, which is the seven minute workout FOUR BLOODY TIMES.

And we’re also en route to visit family. We don’t need to be primped and plucked and waxed and tanned and have eaten food in amounts small enough to be put under—this is not a trip to the Kroger around the corner where the hot cashier works, for goodness sakes. We’re going for a nice relaxing holiday somewhere near a beach that is usually emptier than The Annotated Encyclopedia of Awesome Anne Hathaway Jokes.

Of all the annoying habits from my twenties, trolling people on Facebook and trying to shed fifty pounds in two days before a trip where up to half of me will be uncovered are two I cannot seem to kick, and I am a former smoker, so I know what giving things up is like.

It is sad that we spend so much time trying to build up the confidence of those close to us who struggle with their own issues about how they look. I am going to visit people predisposed to loving me, and I am still terrified of them being judgmental. And it is stuck in my brain like Adele sang it.

Oh Lord, I’ll go back to using the Starbucks cup with the snowflake if you will just let me Photoshop myself!

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