Hey Mama Boss.
In this post I am going to tell you exactly how to have the best holiday of your life.
Why will it be the best?
Because it will be your first holiday season without your old friend, Food Anxiety.
You know her well, don’t you?
The friend who always shows up and hangs out for waaaaay too long.
In fact, I’d bet she’s moved right in (to your head, that is).
So while everyone is cheerfully saying things like...
“Are you ready for Christmas?” and
“Oh how lovely to spend time with family!” and
“I am really looking forward to it!”
Inside we are freaking out.
We are freaking out with thoughts like…
Am I going to gain weight?
How much weight will I gain?
Will my pants still fit in January?
How will I work this all off?
I need to join a gym.
I’ve already eaten so many cookies this season, I won’t eat any on Christmas.
I’m so bad.
So many of us are planning.
Planning for food anxiety.
Planning for bodies that grow and gain out of rebellion.
Planning to eat and eat and eat and then “pay for it” later.
Planning to feel out of control.
And we set it all up.
We control the plan.
We bake the 712 cookies.
We buy the candy and the chocolate.
We serve the gluttonous portions…. piling our plates high with guilt and anxiety.
We set ourselves up for guilt, shame, anxiety, and stress-- all in the name of “the holidays”...?
And yet we love the holidays, don’t we?
We look forward to the gift giving, the parties, the merriment.
So doesn’t it seem odd that we look forward to something so much, and we invest so much time and energy into it, and yet we have loads of anxiety leading up to and during it, and then guilt and regret when the deed is done??
So I ask you: why do you do it?
Why do you set yourself up for a whole host of deeply troubling feelings?
Is joy and pleasure shackled to guilt and shame?
Can we not have one without the other?
Let’s do a little activity together, just for fun.
Imagine that you had a temporary medical condition that prevented you from eating or drinking anything over the holidays.
AND, imagine that your life depended on you experiencing joy and delight over those same holidays.
What would you choose to do?
What would you choose to focus on?
Who would you choose to be around?
What would you choose to think about?
For me, I would relish in my relationships with my family.
I would be present with my little son, enjoying every extra moment with him.
I would create experiences with him where we are engaging in cool activities, like making gifts, drawing, playing games, doing new puzzles, traveling, or attending cool holiday events.
And I would be super present the whole time.
I would spend mental and emotional energy making my marriage the best it can be.
I would listen carefully when my husband spoke and give him my undivided attention.
I would practice happiness, which only multiplies the happiness of those around me.
I would take long walks alone and with loved ones (sans the little man… four year olds can really kill a good, long walk).
I would walk in the park with my aging yet spry parents.
I would talk to people.
I would see them.
I would read.
I would write.
I would go to a movie and engage with that movie 100%, the sounds, the images, the emotional responses-- because I wouldn’t be entertaining my mouth with popcorn.
I would do yoga.
I would spend time with friends, and really see and listen to them.
I would delight in the holiday lights.
In the laughter.
I would sleep really, really well.
I would watch the sunrise.
Isn’t it fascinating that once you eliminate food from the equation, you find that you’ve been missing out on so much?
Luckily, I don’t have a medical condition that prohibits me from eating or drinking.
But the food and drink still don’t matter much to me.
They are one detail of a much larger experience.
And, in fact, the relationships I cultivate over this magical time are what bring the most joy and delight.
And when I shift my focus from what I’m putting in my mouth to what I’m feeling in my heart, my holiday experience is utterly transformed.
I will decide, ahead of time, exactly what I will eat and drink.
And I will eat and drink just that.
And I will watch the drama in my mind around holiday food fall away.
I will engage with all that the holidays have to offer.
Far beyond food.
And I won’t gain any weight at all.
And I won’t feel deprived.
And I won’t use willpower.
Instead I will enjoy the holidays, precisely because I won’t be worrying about weight gain.
I will enjoy every minute.
Without gaining a pound.
And you can, too.
Decide, ahead of time, what you want to experience over the holiday.
Take time to really imagine and day dream.
You can do this in a formal way by sitting down, centering, maybe doing a meditation or some light yoga to get grounded, and then let your mind wander into the land of imagination.
Answer the question: What do I want to experience over the holiday?
I would guess that your answer will be something quite unexpected.
Maybe you want to experience deep connection or deep relaxation.
This leads us to the next step.
Decide if you want to commit to make that happen this holiday season.
If you said you wanted deep connection with your best friend, partner, or children, imagine what that would look like.
Is it planning an outing together?
Or just planning to be present with him or her during your holiday festivities?
Or is it a letter you want to write to them and present to them at dinner?
Or maybe you said you want to experience deep relaxation.
How could you experience that over this holiday season?
Maybe you realize that traveling to your in-laws’ house across the country is not as relaxing as you would like… so maybe you make alternative plans?
Or, if your flight and accommodations are locked and loaded, then maybe you brainstorm some ways you can experience some deep relaxation while traveling… a massage with your sister-in-law?
A local restorative yoga class?
Plans for a nap every day?
Maybe you take a turtle step towards your holiday experience this year, and then full blown commit and plan for it next year.
Or maybe this year you go for it, throwing caution to the wind.
Decide ahead of time, at least 24 hours in advance, what you are going to eat and drink.
Manage your mind to work through the drama that is sure to come with that.
Making your holiday experience what you want is up to you.
You are an adult.
You get to decide.
And it is OK to disappoint people.
They get to be adults and take responsibility for their own disappointment.
Enjoy yourself, mama.
You are more than worth it.
Lia Pinelli is a weight loss coach and educator who helps women put an end to emotional overeating and lose weight, permanently.