The Holidays and Creating Balance

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I heard a crazy statistic on the radio the other morning. The most popular radio quiz show in the whole wide world is based right here in Denver, Colorado. Every morning, Dom and Jeremy on The Mix ask a question and people call in to give their answers. The Mind Bender, as it is called, is always entertaining. The question posed this past Tuesday morning was “what are 1 in 8 Americans NOT going to do for the rest of the year?” Answers ranged from working out to going to the doctor. I think it’s interesting that people’s minds instantly went to health. And, the answer was very much so health-related.

So. . .what was the answer? What are 1 in 8 Americans not going to do for the rest of 2018?

The answer was. . .

Only 1 in 8 Americans AREN’T going to gain weight!

Or, put another way, 87% of Americans are going to gain weight in the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas. EIGHTY SEVEN PERCENT! And, this is just a wild guesstimation but I would say about the same percentage are going to make New Year’s Resolutions come 2019 to lose weight. What kind of sense does this make?

None.

This makes none sense.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again...the holidays are not the time to try to lose weight. The focus from Thanksgiving until the end of the year is maintenance and the best way to maintain is to create balance. Balance is not something that just happens. Especially given American culture and how we treat the holidays. Everything is more intense. Schedules are busier. Food is richer. Stores are crowded with more people. Christmas music blasting is in AAAAALL the places. It is easy to get overwhelmed and turn to food for comfort or relaxation.

Or to eat on the fly.

Or to eat out of obligation in social situations.

Or to eat because the food is nostalgic.

The holidays present a lot of food temptations and all I am here today to do is encourage you to indulge mindfully. What does this mean? It means that eating your aunt’s special mashed potatoes on Christmas day isn’t going to make you gain weight. Even eating those taters and the amazing cookies your neighbor bakes every year on Christmas Eve isn’t going to derail you. You could even eat those, indulge in cocktails at the work party AND make a huge New Year’s Eve feast and STILL be balanced. This is four instances of savoring and really enjoying food in the month of December. Four times when you really taste and appreciate the holidays.

Now “tasting the holidays” four times a DAY in December, that is when you are most likely going to gain weight. At that point, you are ceasing to have indulgences. Eating everything in sight for a month is more of a binge than a celebration. And binges leave us feeling guilty, physically sick and sluggish.

At the very least.

I encourage you, instead, to look at the month of December and take stock of social activities or family traditions and think about when and how you see yourself celebrating those moments. Break down the month if you need to to see that indulging on eight different occasions in December does not mean you need to completely throw in the towel and gain five to ten pounds. And then feel like you have to work to lose those five to ten pounds on top of the other health-related goals you have for 2019.

And, as far as exercising, balance means setting realistic expectations. Maybe you normally hit the gym hard five days a week. During the overwhelm of the holidays, it may be more realistic to reduce that to three times a week. Maybe you usually engage in a rigorous strength routine. It may be more empowering to let your body rest some and focus more on mind/body workouts like yoga. And, maybe just maybe, going on walks or doing quick twenty minute workouts are the most achievable to keep you in the habit. However you are moving, be intentional about that movement!

Balance through the holidays IS achievable. You CAN be that one out of seven. You can eat a bunch of chips and dip at Jane’s holiday get-together and get up the next morning and get back to eating a healthy breakfast and get a good workout in later in the day. It does NOT need to be all or nothing. Balance is achievable by indulging mindfully and setting realistic expectations. The holidays are the season of believing and I believe in you.