Oh, the holidays: a time where we tend to consume copious amounts of cheese, a wide variety of sweets and bottomless glasses of festive cocktails. Spreads like these, coupled with high-vibe social gatherings, are one of life’s greatest pleasures. We often find so much love and joy in these moments, between spending time with people we enjoy and indulging in delicious foods that remind us of the Christmas season. They signal to us that it’s time to take a break from the regular routines of life and embrace a slower, or at least more festive, way of life.
For some, overindulging during the holidays, or consuming foods that aren’t part of our regular diet, can be stressful and leave us ridden with guilt, feeling like it’s something we now must “fix”, as if something has been broken or ruined. After stepping on the scale for the first time all month, classic New Year's resolutions might begin to form in your head as you make frantic plans to “work it off” or get back to your “pre-holiday” body.
If this resonates with you, I encourage you to pause and reach for some perspective before diving head-first into the river of self-loathing. One, know that, above all else, your value as a human has nothing to do with a fluctuating number on the scale. If you struggle to come to terms with this truth, your journey needs to begin here and it may require the support of someone who can help guide you in building a healthy relationship with the scale and understanding what self-worth truly is. Secondly, be gentle with yourself. Give yourself grace and compassion, as you would to anyone else that you love. Why do we struggle so much to offer it up to ourselves? You do not need to wake up tomorrow, guns-a-blazing, ready to morph into the perfect version you have created in your head–the person you feel you now must become since you ate one too many squares from your mom’s dessert platter. When we are gentle with ourselves, we provide the safe place needed to create meaningful change, which is created out of love, rather than fear, guilt and self-hatred.
"When we are gentle with ourselves, we provide the safe place needed to create meaningful change..."
Once you can approach change from a place of self-love, you’re more likely to find small, sustainable shifts that support the lifestyle you desire. You take action because you know you are worthy of something better. Maybe you focus on water intake or daily movement goals. Perhaps you remove some of the more indulgent, sugar-laden foods that aren’t usually around, but that somehow migrated into your kitchen over the holidays. Maybe you dedicate yourself to including a source of protein with each meal. These small shifts are easily built on each other and when adopted over a period of time, don’t feel hard and unreasonable. They become habits in your day and this is how real change happens. When we throw ourselves into crash diets, they can only last as long as our willpower does and willpower is not infinite. It will run out. Lasting change has to be meaningful, it must produce results and it must be ingrained in the details of our day through the power of habit.
So, please don’t you dare feel an ounce of guilt from holiday indulgence (I say this with 12 exclamation points if you’re living in Ontario in January, 2022. IYKYK). Instead, focus on the feelings you had when you ate that delicious food and sipped on those fancy cocktails, all while laughing and connecting and holding the people you love most in this world. If you’re feeling a tug to make some changes that support your health with the arrival of the new year, I fully support you, particularly in the current state of our world. Taking your mental and physical health into your own hands has never been more important than it is today. But be gentle with yourself. These last couple of years have been rocky, to say the least. We could all use a little love and kindness and that needs to begins with our own self-talk. Small, slow, meaningful shifts can make all the difference and set you on the road to real, lasting health.
Happy New Year, from my family to yours!