How to get to January without hating your body
Every year I hear the same thing from clients, friends, and family- The holidays, although meant for celebration and fun memories, leave them in a shame & guilt cycle when it comes to their health & fitness. Somehow we get to January every year feeling like Santa Claus with his big bowl of jelly, if you know what I mean.
In my experience through the years with my own struggles around the holidays, plus those of my clients, I have found that we honestly self-sabotage our health this time of year. I am not saying this because of over-eating or not exercising enough, but rather because we get caught in the mindset game of being “good” or “bad,” “on the wagon” or “off the wagon,” and generally thinking all-or-nothing about diet and exercise. I find that if we have a few mindset shifts and truth about health this time of year, then maybe we can get to January without shame or guilt about our bodies, and with joy at what our holiday seasons meant to us.
The biggest thing to note before I begin is that a lot of fitness professionals will tell you some crazy statistic that the average American gains 8-15 pounds over the holidays. That is a bunch of baloney, as most average people who enjoy the holidays will maybe see a 1-3 lb gain on the scale, or just maintain their weight. This is mostly water weight and can dissipate with a few days of drinking water and continuing like normal.
Here are my top 4 steps to help you go through the holidays without hating your body:
- Avoid extremes and continue as normal– This means for the love of all things Christmas, please avoid extreme diets, cleanses, workouts, and binges. It’s okay to have 1 cookie or some pie. It’s also okay to keep eating like normal the day after a big meal and not punish yourself with a 2+hour long workout. Here’s some science-y stuff for you- your metabolism is adaptive and smart. It can adjust and accommodate a large meal and indulgence when you have one. What starts to make our metabolism crazy and can send us into further fat-storage mode is jumping from fasting and restricting, to all of the sudden binging, over-eating and over-exercising. Long workouts can place excessive stress on our bodies when a 30 minute, normal workout will cause a normal, healthy stress response. The best thing you can do is eat your normal breakfasts, lunches, dinners, and snacks when you’re not in celebration mode and continue with your normal workouts.
- No one cares as much as you do– Ouch…did that hurt a little? Your 2-5 pounds you gain over the holidays are a huge deal to you and yet not noticeable to anyone else. Most people are too concerned with the way they look or how they’re perceived to give much thought to your weight gain or loss. Let that truth give you some peace of mind to realize that worrying so much about your weight and fitness is not serving you as much as you think.
- Food and exercise do not have morality– There are no “good” foods or “bad” foods, there is just food. We tend to tie our morality to the food choices we make, like “I’m so bad for eating that whole piece of cake,” or “I am terrible for skipping that workout.” We think this punishing mentality is serving us, but really it causes shame and guilt, which leads to more of those behaviors, and the cycle goes on. Do yourself a favor and change your language around food and exercise this season. Instead of labeling a cookie as bad, just eat the cookie and move on without dwelling on it. Same with missing a workout or needing more rest. There is nothing wrong with these things, just how we perceive them.
- This is just a season– When you realize that it’s just 4-6 weeks of celebration, busyness, and Christmas cookies, we can give ourselves more grace to be present to the things that matter most. There are natural seasons of rest and indulging, and seasons of activity and fasting, so there’s no reason to freak out if you’re consuming some more calories or working out a little less to snuggle up with your loved ones.
You are so much more than weight loss, gain, or the size of your jeans, mama! Remember that you have value, and your health & fitness choices do not define that value. May you be filled with peace and sure in your identity this holiday season!