Happy Thursday to you! Is anyone out there in a Holiday Holding Pattern? I am referring to that place we can wind up in this time of year. It usually starts with one or two football parties. This plops over into Thanksgiving (along with our bellies over the ever-shrinking waist on our pants)…holiday parties and food-as-gifts…Christmas and all the fixins’...New Years to top it off, with more food and drinks (because we needed that). Before you know it, you emerge from Super Bowl Sunday with that familiar feeling of regret and lost time, vowing never to do it again, and to “regain your health once and for all this year!” (shaking the angry fist for emphasis).
Are you putting yourself on hold “just for the holidays?” This can easily turn into half the year, when you really think about it. Are you in the pattern of filling up on things that don’t feed you? Sure, they may feed you, in the literal sense, but they don’t feed you. Don’t get caught up in the holiday scramble, only to resurface among festive remnants of crusty eggnog glasses and sad, crumpled up wrapping paper, having forgotten that thing which exists year-round – YOU.
I believe you can get through this time of year without completely unraveling any progress you’ve made, want to make, or envision making. I don’t have any magic for you today, but I believe this predictable downward spiral many of us descend into can be remedied in at least two ways: congruence and consistency.
Congruence refers to aligning the majority of your actions with your primary goal. First, what is your primary goal? I hope it’s your health, given that a healthy mind and body are foundations for all other goals. However, if it’s not, then be honest with yourself. It’s OK to prioritize other things, but it does not benefit anyone to live in denial. Next, when you find yourself making excuses about why you didn’t exercise today or why you grabbed a fast food lunch – “I was too busy,” “I was tired,” “I forgot,” “There wasn’t enough time” - try replacing those excuses with “I’m not prioritizing exercise right now,” or “I’m not prioritizing healthy eating right now.”
Primarily, this functions as a way to check in with yourself and to bring your awareness to the reality of the situation. We have gotten so used to telling ourselves stories about how we are too busy and there’s never enough time, and blah blah blah, that we think somehow that was the hand we were dealt, as if we hadn’t a choice.
Also, shaking yourself out of autopilot and back into conscious thinking provides an opportunity for you to reassess and rectify (if you choose). For example, if you tell yourself you are not prioritizing losing weight right now, you are providing yourself an opportunity to either say:
a) “Yep that’s right! Not diggin’ on the weight loss thing right now. Instead I’m prioritizing X, Y, or Z, and that’s OK!”
b) “Wait. No! Losing weight is a top goal. I’ve decided I want to put myself and my health first, because these are important and worth prioritizing.”
There are no right answers, and priorities aren’t set in stone. The important thing is to acknowledge what priority your actions support so that you are making conscious choices.
Choose and own. Choose your priorities, and own your actions.
Consistency is also necessary. This means consistently doing the small things that are congruent with your larger goal. We may tell ourselves that other people have it easier. They don’t have to work as hard at [insert --> losing weight, eating food that supports health, exercising most days] for various reasons…they have more money, or more time, or better genetics, or less demands for their attention. These are stories. Don’t underestimate yourself while overestimating others.
Two truths jump out at me when I hear these stories:
1) Comparisons are futile. Another’s abundance does not diminish your own, because abundance is, well, abundant. Someone else’s successes do not detract from your own progress (see Scare City or AbunDANCE), and getting tangled up in this line of thinking holds us back.
2) The way people achieve a goal is by consistently showing up, day in and day out, to do the little steps it takes to reach that goal. There are no quick fixes that result in lasting achievements. There are no enduring, reliable short cuts. You just have to do the work. Continuing to think that everything should be easy will keep you exactly where you are. Big change is the accumulation of thousands of little steps, thousands of in-the-moment decisions, not an independent outcome all on its own. You have to take these small incremental steps, even when they are hard.
You have to take them because they are hard.
Show up for yourself first. Don’t lose yourself in the mix of parties, gift-giving, family, & friends. You can stop the frenzied cycle at any point. You can make choices that help you progress in your health goals rather than hinder you. And you don’t have to feel deprived. It’s your choice. If you want to frame things in a way that makes you feel like you’re missing out, go ahead! If you want to frame things in a way that makes you feel empowered and proactive, go for it!
The only thing stopping you, is you.
Much love y’all,