This post is for those of you that are frustrated with the same old, recurring weight gain ritual this holiday season. That feeling of giving up before you've even put up a fight. That feeling of chaos with the endless school activities for your children, social gatherings, cookies in the break-room, and annoying co-worker who's urging you to try her homemade chocolate peanut butter balls even though you've told her a million times you're all set. I call this.... The Holiday Burnout Blues.
We've all fallen into the trap. In fact, it's almost custom to go into the month with a defeated and negative mindset surrounding all of our wellness goals. Unfortunately, this is our first mistake throughout the holiday season. As a culture, we have normalized the fact that it's okay to give up for an entire month and revisit it again when we're disappointed with the aftermath. I want to help individuals take a look at this season from a different angle because our mindset is everything with anything we do in life. We need to stop giving up on ourselves before we've even given ourselves the chance. Let me outline some scenarios on what I mean by this:
"It's just so busy this time of year, I'll just forget about it until the season is over."
"This time of year is always horrible it'll be better once January hits and I can focus on everything again."
"I always gain weight this time of year so I'm just accepting it and I will deal with it during the new year."
Sound familiar? It's an easy trap to fall for. It's infectious and it's incredibly destructive. If our minds are already thinking negatively, then we've already lost this battle before we've given ourselves a fighting chance. I've caught myself as well making these silly excuses until I started to really break it down.
What does a busy season really mean? Why is it really that hard for us to keep our goals?
Everything came back to one thing: our mindset. I found that at the end of the day the holiday season translates to a few meals. Repeat after me: the holiday season translates to a few meals. Not the entire month. We just turn our backs on erratic eating because we've changed our mindset that this is the norm for the month. Once we stop doing this, we automatically become more aware of the fact that this month although it is busier, is not a reason for anticipating pounds upon pounds of weight gain. Instead, we still have the power to make decent choices for the majority of the month and then leave it to the actual holiday(s) to enjoy those once-a-year favorites. Because believe me, I am all about enjoying the actual holiday!
I hope I've challenged you all to look at this season in a different light. Mind over matter always. The human body is capable of amazing things once we change our attitude. To make it easier, I came up with 3 quick tips for this month that are realistic and easy to fit in daily no matter how busy you are.
1. Change your mindset. Try being more realistic with this time of year. It may not be the best time to make difficult goals (i.e. losing 3 lb per week or going to the gym 5x per week when you currently aren't going at all). Instead, make a goal to maintain your weight. This will keep you in tune with your body without ignoring it. It's doable meaning you aren't setting yourself up for failure when you make an overzealous goal of incredible weight loss during an already hectic month.
2. Make it easy for yourself. This is not the time to start making gourmet meals for your family if you are lacking time. Pick up steam-able frozen veggies, rotisserie chicken, utilize crockpot recipes, and even make a list of healthier alternatives at the local places you typically get takeout from. But Jackie, are you recommending I get takeout or a rotisserie chicken? Those are loaded with sodium! Ladies and gents, this is what I call making a better choice in a time where worse choices are presenting themselves. Choose the lesser of two evils during this busy time. If healthier takeout is the key, then roll with it because a takeout meal that's more nutritionally sound is better than a takeout meal that could easily be 2,000 calories.
3. Practice mindful eating. Eat slower, more focused, and with less distractions if possible. Most of us have lost the ability to really understand what it means to leave a meal being content and not stuffed. This alone will help your body figure out it's satiety cues, meaning you will eat less by making your meals last longer. If you don't have time to stretch your meals out longer, try to wait before taking seconds.
So go out there and show the holiday season what you're made of! A month isn't worth back tracking your success! Go get 'em!
Until Next Time,