I’ve got a really important holiday message for you. It has the potential to totally shift how you view the next few weeks of your life (possibly longer). And massively increase the joy you experience.
Who doesn’t need a bit more joy right now?! Am I right?!
This is it…
Enjoying holiday indulgences and embracing a change of pace is healthy.
Frankly, if I see one more meme about how to “remove the calories” from your favourite holiday “indulgences” or how many minutes of cardio you need to do to “earn” your treats…oy. No thanks Diet Culture. Not this year, not this gal.
Enough! Calories aren’t bad. Calories from treats aren’t either. And you don’t need to earn your food, ever. FULL STOP.
Sure, there may not be much nutritional value to a sugar cookie, but what about the social value of making those cookies with your kids? Or the joy you experience as take that bite and remember your Grandma (it was her recipe after all)? What about the mental health benefits of connection and happiness that come when we share a food experience?
What if taking a pause from your formal exercise plan is exactly what you needed?* Maybe you ditch the “workout” and instead get outside and went for a wintery walk, shovelled a neighbours driveway, or took a cold water plunge with a (distanced) friend! What if you savoured and enjoyed the holiday treats and moved your awesome body in not because you need to “make up” for your food choices, but because moving your body feels good – body and mind!
*Important note if you’re taking a little break from the regular: a couple of weeks off doesn’t undo your fitness – in fact, the hiatus and alternate activities might just be the variety your (awesome) body was craving!
I’m not suggesting a holiday free-for-all.
I mean, you do you (always). But by saying “go for it,” I’m not saying, over-indulge to the point of illness. Nor am I suggesting you become sloth-like (as cute as they are). I’m suggesting something more…moderate. Gasp, I know.
Moderation? What is that?
Well my friends, it’s essentially counter to all the Diet Culture beliefs out there. You know the idea that the you must follow a set of rules and adhere to a strict set of habits to be healthy? And if you don’t, you’re somehow a health failure?!
What if your health wasn’t that black and white? Imagine you could have a treat, or 10, and that wasn’t a departure from the wagon, but simply you finding a nutritional balance that allows space (and grace) for joy and pleasure? Suppose empowering yourself to eat said treats actually meant you naturally, just had a few without it being a slippery slope of “I better eat them all now, because come January 1st this all ends?”
What if your relationship with foods was more relaxed, dare I say easy and peaceful?!
Where you could have a treat, and the very next meal have some veggies or fruit. And you viewed both as part of a balanced relationship with food!
Where instead of skipping all your workouts this holiday season, you instead gave yourself permission to create and embrace a healthy movement intention – like moving every day, in some way, for 20-40 minutes. Adjusting the details of exactly how long and what each day, based on your schedule/ commitments and how you feel. And you didn’t view this as an “off plan” choice – but a healthy choice!
Could you ditch the black and white Diet Culture ideas and instead embrace the shades of grey this holiday season? The middle ground? Moderation? What might that look like, for you?
When you catch yourself in all or none thinking, reconsider and ask yourself, what would would middle ground look like?
Before I leave you, let’s also address this holiday nugget. If you find your way to embrace the holiday cookie and the shift in gears, for goodness sakes, please – NO COMPARISON! NO GUILT! NO SHAME!
Comparison, Guilt and shame have no place in your healthy lifestyle.
I get it. It’s easy to do. In the Diet Culture infused world we live in, those who “stick with it” through the holidays are celebrated. Placed on an alter like a goddess and admired. Pre-tell, how does she do it all?
Newsflash: she likely doesn’t (#realtalk). The highlight reel of social media is rarely an accurate representation of real life. But it’s easy to assume it is.
Here’s the nugget I really need you to hear: rather than being motivating or inspiring, comparison and feeling badly about yourself is simply you launching an internal attack on yourself. This is interpreted by the body as STRESS. And stress is counter-productive to feeling good, and to being motivated and inspired!
Because self-criticism destroys our sense of self-efficacy (our belief in our ability to be successful). This internal attack can also trigger us into the freeze stress response – you know the one, where you feel completely overwhelmed by all the things and so you do none of the things and instead snuggle up under a blanket away from the world and watch Netflix?! Yeah, that. Not so helpful to being motivated to to honour your healthy habits. Don’t get me wrong, there is a time and place for a good old hibernation day (or days), but not when it’s in response to feeling shitty about yourself.
Bottom line? When we start comparing and criticizing ourselves, it’s not motivating, it’s de-motivating.
What if you took a more self-compassionate approach to the holidays and beyond?
- Could you enjoy the holidays – savour the delicious food and enjoy the slower pace?
- What if you ditched the guilt about skipping workouts or being a little less active than usual?
- When you were ready, could you lean into your usual healthy habits with body kindness and respect? No penance because no sins.
- If you decide it feels good, what if you created new healthy habits this year from a place of appreciation for your body?
- What if you took care of your body through the holidays and beyond not because you hate it, but because you deeply care for it? How would that shift things?
I think it could be pretty amazing. I know because this is the approach I’ve been taking for the last several years, and it’s the approach I coach my clients to take and they tell me all the time how transformative it’s been for them.
Just this past week I’ve had clients tell me:
- This is the first year I’m not setting a new years resolution, it’s so liberating!
- I’m not feeling stressed about holiday treats!
- Instead of over-eating over three days at Christmas and feeling horrible, I’ve been enjoying the odd treat here and there, it’s such a …. treat! I’m actually able to enjoy it!
- This is the first year I’ve ever stayed active through the fall! Giving myself permission to do less, rather than nothing on those cold rainy nights has been game changing!
You can feel this way too. Ditch Diet Culture. Release the rules. And reclaim your freedom and peace around food and fitness this holiday season and into 2021! Stay tuned December 30th for BIG juicy blog with my alternative “do this/ not that” for the new year. I’m taking the very traditional Diet Culture concept of “swap this for that” and I’m shining a light on some of the most nefarious fitness and diet industry tactics and offering the counter-diet culture, real-life friendly, joyful and healthy alternatives. It’s a long one, but I promise you won’t want to comment TLDR (too long didn’t ready). It’s full of thought provoking questions and practical tips to help you feel fantastic in 2021 and beyond.