Self-Care as a Strategy for the Holidays

For 11 months out of the year, it seems easier to be committed to weight loss than for the 1 month at the end of the year. The holidays change everything.  Though the holidays can be a meaningful time to be with family and friends, it can also raise anxieties about losing ground on your struggle to lose and keep off weight. At this time, it is easy for one’s focus to be drastically diverted from your health and wellbeing to just about everything and everybody else.  To get through the season, rather than concentrating on a few events and holidays, continue to focus on your own self-care throughout the season. Here are some ways to be good to your body, mind and spirit during this hectic time.

Visualize Success. Keep your goal at the top of your mind every day.  Each morning or evening, take ten minutes just for you. Create a relaxing environment with candles, calming music, essential oils, then quiet your mind and visualize yourself on January 2nd. The holidays are over and you have just gotten through the holiday season successfully. Imagine what your success will look like? How good will you feel and look? Do you notice that you don’t feel bloated, but you also don’t feel deprived either? Repeat this daily throughout the holidays. Not only will you keep your goal in mind, you will feel good carving out some “me” time each day.

Focus on People, Not Food. Look at each party and holiday meal as a time to socialize with friends, colleagues and family, rather than worrying about a minefield of bad eating choices. The opportunity to be with people you care about contributes a lot to your wellbeing and can create a sense of satisfaction. Since you can’t have a conversation with your mouth full of food, you can limit what you eat and drink by spending your time connecting with people .  Instead of worrying about the delicacies that are talking to you from the buffet table, look at the friendly faces and talk to them instead.  You will have a much richer conversation, I guarantee it!

Non-Party/Non-Holidays are just regular days. Keep your usual weight loss regimen and exercise schedule on the days in between the special days. The good news is that regular days throughout the season far outnumber party days and holidays. On these days, do what you did all year: exercise, eat right, hydrate and rest.

Don’t be a people pleaser. It’s so hard to say “no” to people when they are asking for your help or involvement or even asking you to take second helpings of a favorite, but fattening dish. Saying “yes” every time creates stress and takes time away from meeting your own needs. Think about what you are getting yourself into before you say “yes,” rather than just pleasing every person. If you need to say no, do it kindly. “I’m so sorry I can’t help you with decorations this time.” “The dessert was delicious, but I’m so full from the sumptuous dinner you made I couldn’t possibly have seconds.”

Plan Your Indulgence.  You want to have grandma’s stuffing or your auntie’s delicious cheese cake, and you will be miserable if you don’t. Depriving yourself of those special, once-a-year things isn’t helpful. Go ahead and have some, but plan it out. Decide before hand what dishes, desserts and beverages you will have.  Write it down on a piece of paper, sign it and stick to it! If you are a visual person, use this old trick: take a paper plate and write or draw on it exactly what you will eat. (I write the names of the food on my plate because I can’t draw.) When it comes time to the meal, eat what you planned, and only what fits on one plate. No second helpings. Be honest – if you are going to go way off the rails, plan it on your one plate.

Above all, don’t get down on yourself if you stray far from your eating and exercise routine. The number one rule of self-care is to do just that – care for yourself.  Chalk it up to experience, and get back on track the next day. And by all means, enjoy yourself!


Lela Reynolds, Certified Holistic Health Coach

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