As the holiday season approaches, not only are the streets and stores laced with dazzling decorations, holiday treats are also beginning to crowd the scene. From shortbread cookies to exotic cheeses to Christmas edition chocolates—how is one supposed to stay on their fitness train?
I remember I used to feel so anxious and stressed about the holiday season because of the surfeit of dine-outs, gatherings, baked goods, and drinking that threatened my fitness goal. I couldn’t show up at dinners and not eat without being rude, neither would the decadent celebratory meals meet my dietary criteria. For years and years, I used to either starve myself until the party or punish myself with cardio after the parties, just to burn a little more calories.
I want to share some of my struggles and lessons-learned with you, in the hopes that could avoid some of the angst and guilt that I used to feel. There are three tips that I found particularly helpful at arriving at holiday food freedom—both physically and psychologically.
Tip 1: Ditch the All or Nothing Mentality
As I’ve mentioned in my previous post: 6 Tips for Weight Loss and Healthier Lifestyle, the All or Nothing Mentality is detrimental to one’s fitness journey, particularly if you are looking for long-term, sustainable results. For me, I had noticed that the All or Nothing Mentality had often triggered binge eating, because I’d think to myself: If I am already off track, I might as well just make a cheat day out of it and get back on track tomorrow. Except, that is not how the law of thermodynamics works. Our caloric intake and expenditure don’t cap off according to a 24-hour clock when the clock strikes midnight. All the additional calories I had consumed, was carried over to the next day or even to the next few days until my body burns them off, or stores them as fat. Therefore, instead of throwing all of your hard work away, enjoy what you wanted to eat and stop there!
Tip 2: Nourish Your Body
Tackling fitness as a lifelong goal is imperative in changing your paradigm about food. Not all calories provide equitable value to your body. Nourishing your body with nutrient-dense foods first will not only better regulate your hunger level, it will help keep your insulin level more stable when you consume other snacks/desserts later. Another benefit to this? You will also have less room for other treats that may make you feel guilty! Win-win.
Tip 3: Give Yourself Permission
Give yourself permission to indulge in the time with your loved ones. Since losing my grandparents some months ago, I have been reconsidering the priorities in my life. I wish I had shared more meals with them. I wish I had learned my grandma’s recipe. I wish I had focused on the conversations with them over our meals shared, rather than quietly counting calories and macronutrients in my head.
Exercise is king. Nutrition is queen. Put them together and you’ve got a kingdom.Jack LaLanne
I also want to acknowledge that these Tips are harder said than done. Even after years of practicing, I still sometimes find myself feeling guilty for having over-indulged and wanting to abstain from eating the next day to make up for the caloric surplus from the night before. But all things worth fighting for are deserving of hard work and nothing and no one else is more worth fighting for than your health and mental wellbeing. So don’t give up! Keep working on it!