The holidays spark all the feels. The cherished moments with kids, extended family, special events, and food “Glorious Food”. I think the actual definition of the holidays is “eat all the rich, heavy decadent, savory morsels. Put the scales away, hide the mirrors, and bring out every pair of stretchy pants you own”. We jump on the train in early October or September (let’s be honest when the leaves change color, it’s pumpkin everything) with the bowls of Halloween candy. After all, quality control checks take time and must be done early enough to detect problems. As the last trick-or-treater has danced down the stairs, sprinkling fairy dust, we are left with empty bowls… no need to explain the process of “some for you, some for me” we all know how the bowl was emptied. We’re bleeding kit-kats and peanut butter cups, it’s the social norm and we’re in good company. We post memes the next day of photos showing moms hiding the “good” candy in a used bag once reserved for frozen veggies so the kids won’t eat it. We make a mental note to make better choices through the rest of the season, and when all else fails, January will come soon enough and we can start over then. The eating season is upon us.
I once read a meme that stuck with me “Summer Bodies are Made in the Winter”. However it was the reality that while winter is when the work becomes more consistent I would alter the saying to be “Summer Bodies are Made by Winning Through the Holidays”. So as we enter the full effect of all the holidays have to offer perhaps it’s also the time to push the reset button. I did just that a year ago and I won my life back. I didn’t have to eat rice cakes through the holidays (although, those are actually quite tasty) but I did make some adjustments that made a world of difference.
I started with writing out my intentions.
I wanted to be able to train for a few running races that would be grueling (I was also making a come back to running from an injury). I didn’t want to just stumble through the training but feel like I had put all I had into play. With a fresh mindset of my summer goals I felt equipped to challenge myself in the coming months of “eating marathons”. I also knew what the magic number was I wanted the scale to read. We all have that dream number, the one that we just know will make us happy. I had a new idea around what that number needed to be and it no longer defined my success but would be a sweet reward, like a side bonus for hard work. However it wasn’t the basis for any of my goals. I needed to remove myself from thinking it was going to be the end all be all.
I chose to use the Whole 30 program.
This program isn’t for everyone, but I do believe anyone can do it. The authentic design of the program is to help a person discover any food sensitivities. I used it to break bad habits and it worked. Consistency and community was key to the success of seeing the program through to the end. I wrapped up the program two days prior to Thanksgiving. Which means I had started before I could offer my full support to the disappearance of all the candy. It also put me in a position to have an arsenal of tools to help fight off the cravings as the eating holiday rolled around. I had lost a little weight with the program and was feeling quite a bit better, like I was already winning the race. My biggest take away was a self awareness. The destruction we walk through in the Fall through New Years is staggering. Maybe destruction is too harsh a word, but it had been my reality every single year… but not again. I was more determined than ever to not let food run my life. If you’re reading this part and thinking “all well and good to start in October, but we’re smack dab in the middle of the holidays now and I couldn’t possibly”. I would challenge you to consider a one week reset, or maybe a modified program, if a reset is something you would find value in.
I wrote a lot.
Somewhere between a greasy burger, stuffing made with bacon, and specialty coffee drinks I had found a level of comfort that I felt entitled to. I had been writing for the Duluth Moms Blog for only a few months but the act of journaling my thoughts wasn’t something I had been consistent with. I started writing out my daily frustrations. My desires to eat all that was spread out at a friends party. My decision to not go to an event simply because I wouldn’t be able to control myself. I realized I needed a better plan.
Schedule and plan ahead.
Spend a little time looking through the calendar at all the events you’ll be attending, you’re already doing it for your kids, don’t forget about you. Will there be kids parties that you’re required to bring items too? Spouses work party, after parties, social events you can’t escape? There’s also the inevitable “My sister, brother, aunt forgot to send out invites but is throwing a party and you’re required to attend”. Be intentional about what you’re willing to eat and not eat. What will it cost you physically to go all in? Is there an option to bring your own food so you can enjoy the social aspect but not lose all the work? There were times I would eat at home before heading out, just so I wouldn’t need to consume all the rich foods. I was a little more equipped to turn down items, with my belly not screaming at me. I started carrying snack bars in my purse. Again, you do it for your kids so why not grab something you would enjoy. I had found that Lara Bars were an excellent option and kept the edge off. With all that being said, if there’s an event you’re especially looking forward too and you want to be “all in” then let that be what you want it to be. The holidays are meant to be enjoyed so if you need a night of no rules, then you should definitely go for it. Let it be amazing and don’t over think it. I made plans for cookie consumption, they are my absolute biggest weakness. I managed to not devour every plateful last year and that alone tasted like victory.
Did you just roll your eyes, turn your computer off, check out? I would have too, until I started to really put it into practice. I cannot stress enough the winning potential of prepping your week. I’m not a chef, I don’t have a long list of things that I make, but I can do enough simple things that make a hectic day end well with a little preparation. During the busy season the last thing we may feel we have time for is spending a couple hours in the kitchen. But the reality is that without a few go to items, you will always be rushing and never feel like you can get ahead of the “hangry”. I like to fix a crock pot meal, bake some marinated chicken breasts that can be added to anything. Some simple mason jar salads and even hard boiled eggs are my go to items that keep the chaos to a simmer. Weather you fix things that are just for you or meal prepping for the whole family, you will find the added benefit of having it done in advance so you’re ready to succeed.
When the season of resolutions rolls around you may find that you just need to continue as usual and that you’re ready to add a few more routines but you won’t feel a heavy load of regret. Last January I was ready to tackle some strength training. I hadn’t lost more weight through the holidays but it was the first time I hadn’t gained any either. It was the sweetest victory I had ever served up. I’m looking forward to another season of good friends, family, wine, and a few cookies… but not ALL the cookies.