November 21, 2017
The holiday season is synonymous with food… and lots of it! So, with all the events you’ll be attending this season, how do you keep from destroying your health… and actually lose weight?
Whether you’ve been trying to take back your health for a while now, or are just starting out during the last months of this year, the holidays can be daunting. Food—most of it bad for you—can feel like it’s everywhere. Holiday parties, big family meals, all those extra boxes of calorie-packed treats Dorothy at the office keeps leaving in the break room… it can feel inescapable at times.
But, here’s the thing…
It’s not inescapable. The temptation to indulge—or, more likely, to overindulge—doesn’t have to be irresistible.
Here are five surefire strategies for tamping down the temptation and holding on to your health this holiday season.
1. Understand What You’re Up Against
Your health starts with one thing, and one thing only: Awareness.
When you understand where your bad habits have their roots, you can make healthy choices. You can say “no” to death and say “yes” to life.
It’s no different when it comes to your health this holiday season. Understanding what you’re up against will go a long way in allowing you to make the right choices for your health.
So, what exactly are you up against? What, exactly, do you need to be aware of?
First, understand that holiday overindulgence isn’t a real thing. Instead, it’s the primary message of a marketing campaign you’ve been subjected to for your entire life. The holidays can mean a lot of things, but NONE of those things are overeating.
We have this vision of huge, calorie-packed meals—and the lethargy that follows—because that’s what they’ve sold you. You hear a lot about the over-commercialization of the holidays when it comes to gifts. But it’s the same thing with food.
Notice the commercials on TV this time of year… In an attempt to sell you french-fried onions, for example, they’ll show those onions posed within a square acre of “holiday food.”
You won’t just see Acme Turkey gravy.
No, you’ll see it poured over a metric ton of meat, stuffing, potatoes, and who knows what else. Those big meals aren’t there by accident.
Toy companies target your kids. Food companies target everyone.
Second, you’re up against the idea that everyone eats terribly during the holidays. It’s social pressure 101. Because it’s “just a thing people do,” it makes it much easier to indulge yourself. Despite the fact that no, not everyone eats terribly during the holidays.
Third, know that eating is never an isolated activity. It’s rooted in emotion. Around the holidays, it’s also rooted in the feelings we have about traditions. Apple dump cake might be tempting. Grandma’s apple dump cake, though, is on a whole different level.
Traditions are powerful. So are emotions. Understanding those connections—and building awareness around their existence—can go a long way in keeping you healthy—and happy—during the holidays.
So, awareness is the starting point.
2. Don’t Look Forward to New Year’s
New Year’s is a tough animal to tackle. Because, while it’s good to feel like you have a fresh start, and equally good to set healthy goals for yourself, too often it tends to have the opposite effect.
It can be easy to overindulge during the holidays when you “know” that you’re going to get your health in order on January 1st. That day has become more of an excuse than anything else. It’s easy to see it as a chance for a do-over… even when you know, in the back of your mind, that most, if not all, of your resolutions will be broken and forgotten by the second week of January.
It’s human nature to want to improve yourself. It’s also a noble endeavor. But New Year’s Day isn’t the time to do that. For one, there’s a ton of added pressure. And secondly, just like a lot of people wrack up credit card debt buying gifts during the holidays, there’s also often a “health debt” that comes due once the holidays are over. Overindulge for the last two months of the year, and you’re setting yourself even further behind the eight ball, health-wise.
Also, look… The truth is, there’s no good time to start making healthy lifestyle changes. The fourth quarter of the year is problematic because of the holidays, right? But the first three months of the year are inconvenient because, well, it’s cold and no one wants to leave the house to go to the gym. The second quarter isn’t great because you’re busy and vacation is coming up. And the third quarter? It’s hot. You’re trying to pack in more summer fun before the leaves start turning brown, and honestly… after the holidays you’ll get things in order.
All of which combines to mean one thing: Because there’s no “good” time to start taking back your health, any time of the year is the best place to start.
Don’t let your excuses get in the way of everything you can accomplish.
If you’ve already started taking back your health by slowly replacing the bad habits with good ones, then take this holiday season as an opportunity to continue.
If you haven’t started making those changes, start today. Now is as good—or bad— a time as any.
Either way, let New Year’s Day be a celebration of everything you’ve accomplished so far instead of the starting point.
3. Have a Plan
No one’s ever done something good for themselves in a sustainable way without a plan. So, as you tiptoe through the minefield that is the holidays, go in with a plan.
This plan doesn’t have to be complicated. It can be as simple as making sure that you’ve filled up on a healthy meal or snack before you go to a holiday party. Or it could be just making a promise to yourself that you’ll drink water instead of punch, or pop, or eggnog.
You know yourself. And because you’ve built up that awareness about what your triggers are going to be back in step 1, you’ll be able to come up with a strategy that works for you.
4. Bring Your Own Food
Part of that strategy might be bringing your own food to meals and other events. Make something healthy… and make a lot of it to share!
Thanks to the internet, there are tons of super healthy holiday recipes right at your fingertips. Here are a few to get you started.
Choose one, take it with you, and share it. You can even decide not to tell anyone it’s healthy. See how they feel about it before you tell them it’s the only dish on the table that won’t cause a coronary.
Be an inspiration to others.
5. Remember What the Holidays are Actually About
Finally, take a step back. Take a deep breath. Let it out slowly. And then think about what the holidays REALLY MEAN.
Your answer is going to be your own. The holidays mean as many different things as there are people who celebrate them. Family, faith, togetherness, joy, thanksgiving… for you it can be about any combination of these deeper meanings.
But what this time of year is NOT ABOUT holds true across the board.
The holidays are not about spending more money than you have on gifts that no one needs.
They aren’t about raiding the shopping mall at midnight on Black Friday.
They aren’t for stuffing yourself until you pass out on the couch in front of the football game.
So much of what is marketed AT you this time of year are lies, plain and simple. Those huge meals you see in the commercials? Most of the time, that’s not even food.
Everything you see is an idealized—and FALSE—expectation that you’re being psychologically manipulated to attempt to live up to.
Take this holiday season back for yourself. Build that awareness. Understand your own reason for the season.
And above all, choose your health. Choose your happiness.
Watch more below!