Here we are again, at the start of the end-of-year Holiday Season. Beginning with Halloween, then weeks until Thanksgiving, with a barrage of parties until the celebration of Christmas and then New Years. Once that New Years hits though, there is a renewed interest in self and health.
Ironically, there is almost a multiple personality approach to the holiday season that many adopt. This can be equated to the three-legged stool. One leg is the victim approach to the holidays where we are simply subject to the pressures of the season. Another leg represents the desire to just be present allow ourselves to enjoy this time with family, or this point in our children’s lives. The third leg is the communal understanding of these pressures and we support one another in our “bad” behaviors, because everyone is doing it.
“We all steal our kids’ candy, right?”
“We are just going to break out our Holiday clothes”
“Oh, I’m going to hate myself tomorrow”
“You’re going to have to roll me out of here”
“I know I should stop, but it’d just so good”
“It’s the dad tax”
All this time we still give hold ourselves accountable to a diet mentality that is unrealistic and solely there to make us feel guilty for not doing “better”.
We may be enjoying ourselves, our family, and our experiences only to be snapped back to diet culture. There are constant pulls back to the weight or food intake guilt like when our clothes are a little tight, or someone brings something delicious that we want to eat (but can’t bring ourselves to), or when conversations turn to how much weight someone has lost, and so on.
What if you made a conscious decision before it all began, what your holidays are going to look like? Knowing you are a stress eater perhaps you plan to reduce or manage the stress. If you’re planning to implement healthy behaviors in January, maybe start now. Rather than playing catch up come January.
Know that the Holidays should be a time to celebrate. Setting your expectations and boundaries before the meal begins, or the candy enters the house, or the family arrives will help tame the 3-headed holiday beast of health. It is possible to be happy without talking about food. We don’t need to obsess about it, or publicly acknowledge “we are bad” because we at candy, or had another helping. Food is food. It is a tool for our body to function. It is not a weapon to be used for inflicting self-punishment.
If it helps, instead of focusing on the food this holiday try focusing on health. This can be mental, physical or emotional health. Maybe you know that your food choices won’t be what you want them to be throughout the holiday season so that is not where you focus. Rather, you focus on physical activity, or mental health.
What are some health practices you would like to experience this holiday season?
What would give you a “jump-start” on this upcoming year?
Is there a physical feat you would like to accomplish?
Consider the following ideas: participating in a New Year’s Day 5k, focusing more on time with your family, putting your scale away for the holiday season as a mental health step, meditating for 5 minutes a day, trying out a new fitness class, or eating more mindfully.