This month, every women’s magazine and blog has tips on how to survive the holidays with your waistline intact, or your skinny jeans on your booty, or whatever. They offer the same old advice every year, and I find it kind of depressing. Mildly insulting, too. Mix your booze with diet soda, fill up on low calorie veggies, enjoy lighter versions of your favorite holiday foods, blah blah blah.
I know that the writers of these pieces mean well, but my weight issues were a beast that couldn’t be tamed by simply eating off of a small plate to control portion sizes and substituting lowfat sour cream. These basic Dieters 101 tips are ineffective for most of us because they provide half-assed ways of dealing with symptoms. I am more interested in curing the underlying issues of holiday overeating, so the symptoms can fall away naturally.
Why This Time of Year Might Make You Feel Loony
The holidays come at a cold, dark time of the year. You’re already craving comfort food much more so than you do in July. Most likely, your belly is asking to be filled with a little more passion than usual – it wants to be warm!
Add to that a calendar full of social engagements, possibly with family that stresses you out.
On top of that, you’ve got financial pressure. Unless you live in a hole with all forms of media silenced, there are messages everywhere for you to show the people in your life how much you love them by spending your money on products for them.
To finish it all off and make you feel extra inadequate: every movie, song, and commercial is reminding you that you’re slightly nuts for having these feelings. This is supposed to be the happiest time of the year!
It’s no wonder you find yourself face first in the French Onion dip!
Don’t fear, honey. I’m going to talk to you about easy, natural ways to take care of yourself over the next six weeks. This way you can start 2012 feeling healthy and strong, rather than feeling like you have to go on some crazy kale cleanse to recover from months of abuse.
Survival Tips for Your Bod
Be selective about your indulgences. It saves calories, yes. But even more importantly, it sends your body a loving message. It says, “Body, I am willing to be snobby for you. I won’t stuff you full of stale potato chips just because I’ve run out of questions to ask my boss’ wife at the company holiday party. You deserve better than that.” Unless stale potato chips are your thing, of course. No judgment here, I love pigs in a blanket.
Don’t abandon your diet and exercise goals for the holiday season, modify them to make them achievable. For example, I never even try to exercise the week between Christmas and the New Year. I make an effort to eat more green veggies at my non-party meals than I do the rest of the year.
I know that those parameters don’t sound admirable to the hardcore, but the net positive effect (especially on your mind!) is so much better for succeeding at modest goals than it would be to attempt to go all Miss Health & Fitness USA and fail miserably.
You know that “Oh, the whole day’s blown anyway” feeling that can often precede a binge? This tip helps you to avoid a possible “Oh, the whole season is blown anyway” feeling that would lead you to eat your face off at every holiday get together between now and January because that’s when you’ll start being “good”.
It feels so much nicer to think about what you can add to feel good rather than what you need to take away to keep from feeling bad. Make sure you have plenty of water, sleep, and vitamins. These three guys will help you fight cravings and hangovers. They’ll also keep you from waking up all bloated with a tongue that feels like it’s coated in salty fur.
Survival Tips for Your Mind and Heart
Set aside some time for reflecting on the lessons of the past year and setting your intentions for the year ahead. I know that the outside world is pressuring you to make your last two months of the year into hustle and bustle central. Your soul doesn’t care as much about that, and it would like some peace and quiet. Give yourself a little space each day to process your feelings and you’ll be less tempted to stuff them down with food.
Being selective isn’t just for food choices. Please be a little snobby about your holiday social choices, too. You can choose to only attend social gatherings of people whose company you truly enjoy. You can politely say no to the events that don’t feel good to you and save your energy for the ones that do.
Make an effort to look your best. I’ve always found that if I spend a bunch of time lovingly preparing a meal, I don’t have the desire to binge on it. The same principle applies to time spent caring for your physical appearance, even in a small way like using a new type of makeup or spending a few extra minutes on your hair.
You’ll feel really phenomenal, which in turn makes you more confident and likely to engage with others and life. The more engaged you are with others and life, the less appealing it seems to stuff pumpkin pie in your mouth until you pass out.
Key Points to Remember
- This is a whacky time of year
- Don’t beat yourself up if your food intake is a little different than usual – be flexible in your definition of success
- Focus on adding habits that take such good care of your physical and emotional health that they curb the desire to overeat
- Focus less on going all nitpicky for exactly what you’ll eat and how much.
What are some other easy ways you can think of to take good care of your health over the next six weeks? Have a beautiful Thanksgiving, friends!