I was reading through some articles about healthy nutrition during the holidays when I saw a well intentioned commentary about how Thanksgiving and Christmas were only two days out of the year. You could "feel free" to splurge on those days and keep to your diet the rest of the time.
Hold up. I don't know about you but I can't remember the last time I got through this season with only two get togethers to attend. Between family get togethers, Friendsgivings, work potlucks and holiday parties, most of us don't get through these next few months without something to attend almost every week. On top of that, it becomes a crazy time of shopping and squeezing in party preparation and gift wrapping into already jam packed schedules. Then, if those sweet little blessings you brought forth to shine light in your life happen to be pursuing an education you likely have a couple of nights sitting in auditoriums and listening to another rendition of Jingle Bells.
In short, it is a very busy time and there is food everywhere. Not just any food. It is piles and piles of food that is found at the very top of any food pyramid ever made under "should only have 1 tablespoon a week." Seriously, it's everything you aren't supposed to indulge in and it is all dipped in extra butter.
The struggle is real.
So let's get through this together with a quick and dirty list of surviving the holidays.
1. Don't Avoid It!
The holidays are here. Don't pretend it's not happening. You have to face this head on. Don't let that warm smell of cinnamon roasted almonds that they pump into the air at holiday venues sneak up on you. You need some mental preparation. Be real about what's coming. Yes, it is ok to indulge but if you have 3 holiday parties this week to attend maybe it isn't in your best interest to eat a second helping at every single one. If you know you have some hefty Christmas shopping to do, pack some snacks and eat a good meal before you go out. Keep your workouts in the schedule. Can't attend one of your usual classes? See if you can find time to livestream at a different time. Make your health a priority!
2. Don't kid yourself!
Listen, good food is everywhere but the truth be told, it is everywhere all the time. Most of us aren't living in a place where we don't have access to over indulgence at any moment of the day. There is always a reason to eat, as well. Parties, showers, birthdays, Thursdays....We don't really need much of an excuse to start munching. So yes, there does seem to be an excess of carbs during the last two months of the year but a lot of that is really our perception. That struggle bus has depots at every single month of the year and a minimum of 52 weekly stops. Don't let yourself believe that the difficulty of sticking to your healthy lifestyle only happens on the tail end of the year. You've been fighting this all year long. You can do it. Regardless of what the challenge is, you can overcome it.
3. Don't shame yourself!
So you just ate half a cheesecake and a slice of pumpkin pie.
Well then, you know what?
You just ate half a cheesecake and a slice of pumpkin pie.
That's it. That's all.
Tearing yourself down and taking on a load of self deprecating shame won't take away the calories and will likely only lead you into further guilt based struggles with your weight.
You over indulged. Just move on and keep going. Try again next time and maybe take a Pepto because that was a lot of cheese.
Seriously though, don't beat yourself up. You are allowed to indulge and enjoy. Just don't stay there and set up camp. There's so much more to life than whether or not you have to wear your stretchy pants for a couple days.
4. Don't pass the blame!
No shame. Got it? No. Shame. However, don't forget who is responsible for your health. You. And only you. Your choices are yours and you need to own them. Don't excuse yourself from them just because the food is there or the party is happening. Just as shame will make you struggle more so will dismissing your culpability in having to purchase new pants. If you want a healthy lifestyle you have to keep pursuing it even when it's hard and even when others around you aren't. You want it? Then get it. You deciding to blow it off for a week? Own that too.
Your choices. Your decisions. Make them.
5. Don't Stop Trying!
This time of year might be a struggle but throwing up your hands and giving up for the rest of the year is bad news bears. Don't get it into your head that you will just wait till the new year and reset. That's just a guilt mentality that wants to convince you that a healthy life is about strict guidelines and super skinny waists.
Healthy food and fitness have so many benefits beyond just your waistline. There's energy and stress reduction to consider. There's muscle strength and mental strength on the table. There's just an overall sense of accomplishment and confidence.
Throwing your lifestyle out the window for a few months just because you aren't totally on your game negates the overall importance of living healthy.
Look at it this way, if you were taking a daily medicine and you missed a dose (or 20, let's be real) would you just throw the rest out the window and wait two months? Likely not.
If you can only make 2 workouts this week then make them. It is far better than zero and will help you stay conditioned.
You are only getting healthy lunches 4 days a week? That's 4 more days than zero. It matters.
Don't go all or nothing. Do what you can. Celebrate the victories. Don't sweat the defeats. But whatever you do, just keep going!
6. Do enjoy the season!
It is such a beautiful time of year with so much to be thankful for and so many amazing things happening. And life can be hard. For many, this season is more than just joy. It comes with stress and struggle. Heartache and loss. Don't get so caught up in what you are trying to accomplish that you miss the joy of just being here and alive today. That you overlook the daily moments that make life worth living in the first place. You want an extra slice of turkey? Eat an extra slice of turkey! Don't be so lost in calories and scales that you miss this time in your life or in your loved ones life. Don't just take that advice for fitness either! Look around you and enjoy the moments. Life buzzes by far too fast and there is plenty to be stressed about! Find some joy and some love in every day! There really is so much to celebrate and be thankful for!