Each year the holiday season arrives and destroys our health goals. Well, we ALLOW it to destroy those goals, but since it happens EACH YEAR we just blame the holidays, because it’s easier. It’s become common to the point that it’s accepted and acknowledged, and we go along for the ride.
The New Year is a time for renewal. Promises to ourselves are made, Facebook posts made, and exercise programs started. How many of us actually believe ourselves? Do we believe that the next holiday season will be any different? How many of us actually fully recover from what we did to ourselves to get back to the next holiday season at least even? Most people arrive at each holiday season in worse shape than the previous one.
Many of us, during this time of the year, are engaged in work weight loss programs, renewed commitment to fitness, and generally promising ourselves that we won’t let what happens during the holidays happen again. A fair amount of us experience severe regret, agony, and something close to mild depression.
I am among this group.
A few years ago I had escaped this group and was on a very good path. Then early in January, 2016 I suffered an injury that removed my ability to exercise. Exercise was my rocket that allowed me to counteract the gravity of food temptation. Without that rocket, I fell into the black hole.
This pattern of trying to do the right thing then blowing it during the holiday season is more common than we would like to think. I’m right there with you. I’ve contemplated this with myself over and over and though I’ve come up with a few strategies that help, but only if you want them to. What I’ve recently done is go back to how I’ve achieved goals that are for other than eating and tried to apply them towards this quandary. Below is how I’m going approach it this time, this next holiday season.
Remember Your Pain: Write down what I (you) are going through NOW because of what you did THEN. Read that next year and decide if it was worth it. Take pictures. Strip down to bathing attire and document where you are now. Video? Sure. Talk to yourself in that video and let yourself know what you are experiencing NOW, because of THEN.
No Leftovers That Hurt: After an occasion, even if it is at your house, don’t keep leftovers that don’t allow you to recover. Turkey? Sure. Desserts? No, give them away, throw them out, or take them to work and let everybody else make bad decisions.
Trade Meals For Exercise: Say “OK this meal, which I’m going to eat because I’m just going to, is worth 5 extra hours of blah blah” and then make sure you get it done. Use your community and your “Thing”, both of which I’ll get to in a moment.
Prepare Your Body Before: Starting NOW, and at LEAST a few months before the holiday season, get to where you need to be with your bodyfat, fitness, and health in general. Not only will that give you a tad bit of leeway for the holidays you will be in a routine that you can get right back into.
Have Your Fitness Routine: This is similar to the above, but it is HUGE. If you are already into a routine, you can continue on it and minimize or erase the damage. This doesn’t give you license to go nuts and then fix it, but we know that no matter what those meals and occasions are going to occur, so let’s acknowledge it and deal with it.
Community/Support: By nature, we are social creatures. We also crave some sort of accountability; however slight it may be. You may be able to keep yourself accountable, but probably not enough. Having a community around you can help encourage you when you need it, create a bit of social pressure when done right, and generally keep you accountable. Make plans with your community to chat about your specific holiday event and also to make plans BEFORE the event to get together and do something healthy. Your community is not there just to make everything “all right” and pat you on the back, it’s there to help each other stay on course and to get BACK on course, if needed.
Have A “Thing” That You Do: Do you have hobbies? You may chuckle and say “Yes, if I had time”. As of now you HAVE time and one of your hobbies is going to be some sort of healthy movement. Prior to my injury, and what I’m working back towards, I liked to ride my bike, do CrossFit, and hike. Those three things were among my “Thing” and I was interested I them, read about them, planned them, and generally treated them like something that I REALLY liked instead of a necessary evil. In fact, I DID enjoy them, to the point of talking about them so much I was irritating to those around me.
In summary, do something to remember your pain NOW as you approach the next holiday season. Prepare ahead by starting a sustainable health program, and surround yourself with a community of people who truly care about you and will encourage you before and after.