learning to love yourself during the holidays

December 16, 2009

I’m not sure about you, but this year my holiday season has expanded (literally) from Thanksgiving and Christmas as separate and distinct festivities to a six week marathon of parties, cookies, delicious alcoholic indulgences, and the growing need/desire for hibernation and rampant food consumption.  It felt like I navigated Thanksgiving really well by reminding myself that, as an adult, I can cook myself Thanksgiving food WHENEVER I WANT, and thus, no need to eat to the point of becoming uncomfortably full.

But then, there was a party, a really really fun dinner party with many FANTASTIC deserts (my total weakness). And then another, and another, and so forth and so on, until I am feeling uncomfortable and lackluster about the amount of food I’ve consumed combined with my lessening desire to be active as the days get shorter and colder.

Until (drum roll), I inevitably crumble into the little sad and disappointed holiday puddle that feels conspicuously self conscious and rotund.  Usually on the kitchen floor – the scene of the crime – but anywhere will do: bathroom floor, bedroom floor while attempting to get dressed, before getting into bed at night, or when I suddenly wake up at five AM consumed by self-doubt.

But I will not give up. As it is not even Christmas yet, I think I can still turn it around.

Tips for loving yourself as you navigate the holiday season…

1. If (when) you slip up, eating the array of delicious foods available during this magical holiday time, all is not lost. Keep in mind that for me, when I say eating I mean eating WAAAYYY past the point of satiation or happiness, to the point where you are eating just because food is there and you know it’s good. If this happens, don’t throw in the towel. One bad meal, or day, or week when you are visiting your sweet heart’s sister and surrounded by holiday candy/cookies, does not mean that you are a failure or give you license to consume everything in sight and decided to just wait for Jan. 1st to punish yourself for your holiday season.

2. Make good, nutritious choices when you can. The meals that you have control over should be healthful and satisfying, that way, when you attend a holiday party you don’t have to feel guilty about indulging. The holidays are meant to be enjoyed! But, you will enjoy yourself more at special events if you make good choices with during days that are within your own control.

3. Invest in a simple holiday dress or outfit that is forgiving and that you feel sexy in no matter how many cookies you’ve been eating. My holiday experience is made exponentially better if I have a pulled together, classy outfit that I can easily pull out of my closet, and isn’t too tight or uncomfortable. When you are surrounded by clothing choices that are contingent on your size, you are more apt to feel badly about yourself, a feeling which will linger with you as you try to have fun during holiday events. [In fact, this rule is not holiday exclusive, but is my absolute favorite body image booster year round.]

4. Bring a food/drink item to the part that you like, and that is a healthy option for you. This helps SO MUCH. I always always always feel better and less anxious about going to parties where I know that there is at least one thing there that is more healthful. Because I love all things sweet, I usually try to make this a healthier desert option that I have no bones about eating a lot of should I be so inclined.

5. Do not torture yourself. Please. It will not help to obsess during the holidays when so much is out of your control. You will just end up feeling badly.  Instead, approach your body with the same love that you would approach a friend, understanding that it is a stressful time emotionally and physically, and be sweet to yourself even when you make choices that in hindsight you wish you hadn’t. Don’t dwell. What’s done is done, and the best you can do is wake up and make yourself a delicious healthy breakfast.

6. Invent holiday dates that are active or simply don’t revolve around food.  A walk, outing to a special holiday location, ICE SKATING (!!!), snow ball fighting, and going to a holiday movie are all fun events that will get you up and moving and spending time with loved ones. (I am particularly going to do more of this, as it is really the lack of movement that rockets me into a body image slump.)

7. Do not, absolutely do NOT pay any attention to any family members who: comment on your weight, ask if you are dating anyone, ask why you aren’t dating anyone, focus their stare on your hips arms thighs etc. This is my LEAST favorite thing about the holidays. Its amazing. As if I don’t freaking know I gained fifteen pounds since the last time you saw me. Believe me, I’m aware. AND it is so rude, when clearly, we are are all just trying to make it through the day feeling awesome and beautiful and worthy, when we are working so hard to love ourselves above all else. Well. If someone dares this abhorrently rude behavior, ignore them, because, whether they acknowledge it or not, you are much more than the sum of your body parts. You are smart and sexy and funny and interesting and WAY worthy of all the good things that come your way. Or punch them. But maybe try the “walking away high road” method first.