Whether you just started a get healthy, get fit journey or if you are maintaining a healthy body weight, it is always challenging to not over-indulge during the holidays. The potential weight gain is one challenge, but the anxiety rooted in the possibility of falling off track is a whole other force to face down. Here are 10 tips centered around the idea of discipline, flexibility, practicality, and forgiveness that may be an aid during the coming weeks.
Go ahead and accept that you will occasionally partake in foods and beverages that are “off” your healthy plan. It’s OK. In fact, being in an allowing, relaxed state of mind around your food is healthy and preferable. Yes, be firm and devoted to good choices, but being too rigid and stingy with yourself is not the point. In fact, accepting yourself in mind, body, and spirit is, ultimately, the profound and worthy effort.
2. Keep Your Perspective
When you really get down to it, how many dinner parties and holiday events will you actually attend during the holidays? Maybe three, maybe four? Perhaps the office party, one neighborhood party, a family holiday meal, and the second meal at the in-laws? That’s only 4 out of approximately 90 meals between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve. That’s 86 opportunities to eat a healthy meal that supports a centered, healthy state of mind, body, and spirit. If you had 90 questions on a test and got 86 correct, you are still earning a 95% average!
3. Stick To Your Normal Good Habits
I know it’s easy to let go of your good habits amidst the chaos and rigmarole, but do your best to maintain your exercise rituals and healthy meal prep. Be the calm, quiet center of the storm. Use this opportunity to experience what it is like to remain calm, deliberate, and virtuous in the face of a disrupted routine. You’ll be surprised and delighted with your success.
4. Remember Your Core Commitments
Before you enter the doors to an event, think about the goals you set for yourself
way back when your health journey started. Wasn’t your goal to be your best self, find renewal and joy in getting your body and mind to a new and better place? This remembrance brings you back to your core, your center, where your best self resides. It is like looking up and seeing a trusted, loved one give you that nod of approval which helps to settle your anxious mind. That look tells you that you are OK. You may even enlist a friend who would be available on the other end of a text to help you to remember your commitments. Once armored with that reinforcement, it may help you to not over-indulge once you enter the party.
5. Be Deliberate In Your Choices
This concept is about making the conscious choice to set aside certain moments of your holiday month to let yourself enjoy yummy foods and drinks…to a degree and not to excess. Many of us know a few weeks in advance when those occasions will be. The office party lands on such and such date. Your own party is on this date and then we all know what happens on December 24th and 25th! These can be your target dates to allow sweets and other fun foods. Otherwise, you can remain devoted to a healthy lifestyle. This is also about making realistic expectations for yourself. From repeated personal experience, let me share a pitfall of not having a realistic, predetermined plan. We can get into stinkin’ thinkin’ and nasty self-judgement if we’ve impulsively broken a vow to be 100% healthy at a gathering. It is the act of letting ourselves down when we thought we were “stronger” that is toxic to a beautiful state of mind. Our soul droops from the weight of the judgement and, hence, our body will follow that downward trajectory. So, know yourself and plan accordingly.
6. Embrace The Fun
Again, don’t rule your actions like a stingy, school principal with extreme expectations. Be disciplined, but don’t punish yourself with being overly ascetic. Enjoy your neighbor’s signature lobster stew. He is proud of his dish and wants to express his love for you by sharing it. Accept that love.
7. Bring The Healthy Options
You can always add a healthy dish to the potluck table. The grab and go fruit or veggie platter. Or a platter of olives, nuts, and nice cheese. Don't forget the satiating properties of healthy fats.
8. Start With The Healthy Options
And you can start by enjoying that fruit platter you just brought or dive into other healthy platters before you move on to the other foods. Your appetite for the less healthful food may be lessened if you fill up on healthy stuff first.
9. Get Out If The Water Is Too Hot
You don’t have to stand right next to the buffet table all night long. Go elsewhere in the house and get it out of your mind. The sweets or the chips may be your junk food trigger calling your name. Get out of earshot and move to another spot. And you don’t have to stay at the party for as long as you think you do. If you’ve stayed for two hours and the food temptation is getting really uncomfortable, go ahead and graciously say your goodbyes. This is a delicate balance between engaging in lovely company and taking care of yourself especially for those who are overly attached to foods or afflicted with a food addiction. I speak from personal experience on this one!
10. Pay Attention To Something Else
And as a follow up to the previous suggestion, this is the time in our year that we reconnect with friends and family to reaffirm our love. As you drift away from the buffet table to take your mind off indulgences, reinvest that attention into connecting with a friend or your favorite cousin with joy and complete presence. Sometimes we focus too much on food to deal with social anxieties and other concerns. It’s OK to feel overwhelmed in group settings. Focusing your attention on one person at a time helps to minimize that anxiety.
In the end, remember the power of renewal. Each new moment is an opportunity to recalibrate, redirect, and refresh your course in alignment with your health goals and your higher purpose.
What strategy helps you during the holidays? Much love, Nick