Happy Thanksgiving to all my readers in the United States! I hope everyone has a wonderful day, no matter how you are spending it. Because Thanksgiving kicks off the holiday season for me, I wanted to talk about the difference between surviving versus enjoying the holiday season. And how I’m choosing to enjoy it in a mindful way versus the overindulgence I’ve done in the past.
First of all, can we stop with the “do X exercise for Y minutes to burn off Z calories” infographics that start spreading around Halloween? I’ve always thought the “you ate it now negate it” mindset is incredibly unhealthy because it promotes the idea that exercise is punishment. You ate something “bad” and now you have to burn an equal amount so you earn that treat. In the past, that has always lead to a downward spiral for me of eating more and more because “I can always burn it off later”. Except that it always leads to me feeling stuffed and guilty, causing bad thoughts because I couldn’t “control” my eating.
For the last couple of years, I’ve been working on getting away from using food and exercise as rewards and punishment. I’m not good or bad because I decided to have dessert or I did a good workout, I’m simply working on making decisions because they make me happy. I’m going to do a Turkey Trot with my in-laws because it’s a tradition when we spend Thanksgiving with them (and because I’m super excited for a 5K PR) and not because it means I can eat all the food later. I’m going to enjoy whatever food I decide to eat instead of mindlessly eating just because the food is there.
The easiest way for me to enjoy the holidays is to take it one day at a time. We don’t have too many holiday gatherings going on, which does make it easier for me to enjoy the ones we go to instead of being mindless at them because it’s the 1,000th party we’ve been to. Plus, I feel like I’ve learned a lot since I’ve been intuitive eating about what foods make me physically feel better when I eat them and that treats are included in that along with vegetables. I still can’t believe how often I turn to vegetables now as something to add to my plate when in the past I haven’t been a big vegetable person.
I’ll still be working out during the holidays but that’s just a part of my daily life. It’s a part of my routine to get in the exercise I do and it keeps me happy and in a good mind space. I’m not going to be adding on extra exercise to “negate” holiday calories but I’ll be using the extra time off I have (because I realized that I needed to take six days of vacation time that wouldn't roll over) to focus on adding in more mobility and flexibility work that helps keep me injury free. And getting in lots of extra sleep because sleeping is the best.
How do you enjoy the holidays? Let me know in the comments all the fun things you have planned to do between now and the end of 2018. For me, I’m enjoying some extra vacation time (plus my long Christmas break), finishing my Christmas knitting projects and running two races!