Ways To Make This Your Healthiest Holiday Season Yet!

By Sara McGlothlin

Having a Healthified holiday season is mostly about habit formation and mindfulness. Knowing yourself, the way that you operate, and then problem solving can be powerful tools this time of year. Once you lay that foundation of awareness, the actual “things” that you do in the realm of wellness come more naturally. Here are ways to feel your best self without having to wait for the new year! 

Use the past as information, then let it go. Reflect back on previous years. What would you like to do differently? What worked in terms of your healthy habits that made you feel more balanced and energized? Use the past as information to set you up for success. On the other side of this coin is not allowing yourself to adhere too much to this idea of “yourself.” In other words, if you have a story that this is just what you do or how you behave during the holidays, let that go. You always have a choice, whether that pertains to the food that you eat, how much you drink, the people you hang out with, your attitude towards certain situations etc. The beautiful thing about being human is our consciousness. We may not have control over a lot of external circumstances (or other people), but we always have control over our choices, attitudes, and perceptions. That includes what you put into your mouth and how you spend your time. You literally have the ability to write a new story this year, so how do you want it to unfold? 

Also let go of futuristic thinking. A mindset that tends to trip people up during the holidays is futuristic thinking to the new year. Healthy habits and self-care fall by the wayside, with the intention of “getting back on track” January 1st. This creates a cycle mentality, unpredictability, and likely feelings of guilt* (which we then want to soothe with detrimental habits, and around the cycle goes. See below for more on feeling guilty). I’m probably not the first person to tell you that consistency is key, but I also believe that there is no need to live on extreme ends of a spectrum. However, this is also where knowing yourself comes into play. Some people thrive with moderation (that 80/20 approach); others need to completely abstain from certain behaviors in order to feel more balanced. Tap into what works for you for the other 10+ months of the year, and apply it to your holiday season. 

Start with how you want to feel. Piggy-backing off of the above is bringing more presence into your day. Start with how you want to feel, instead of what you need to do or get done. Feelings such as energized, vibrant, and connected might come to mind. Then unfold from those feelings, continuously coming back to them throughout the day. Visualization, putting pen to paper, and segment intending (setting intentions for various parts of your day) can help you maintain and achieve the results you are looking for. You can design your days! You are the creator of your experiences. 

Establish (or maintain) your morning routine. I’m sure you have heard that the morning sets the tone for the rest of your day. Your energy early in the morning can create a momentum for how the rest of the day unfolds. It is harder to wake up early, move your body, practice mindfulness, and eat healthy, blood sugar balancing food if you are hungover from the holiday party the night before (no judgement! Been there.). We all have our moments (here are some natural healing tactics for hangovers), but perhaps make them the anomaly and not the norm this time around. When you play the whole tape, you are better able to make choices that your future self (even if it’s just 12 hours later!) will thank you for. 

Give yourself permission to eat anything you want. Whenever I would say this to my health coaching clients, they would look at me like I had three heads. They thought if they gave themselves permission to eat anything they wanted, they would completely fly off the handle and binge on Christmas cookies. But again, this is where consciousness and confidence comes in. Humans are funny creatures. Someone tells us not to do something, and we just want to do it more. This includes you telling yourself not to do something. We are all little rebels and rule-breakers. So if you give yourself permission, the “can’t have that” attitude won’t exist. Then you can approach each situation with more conscious choice, which will likely lead to more moderation. You can eat it/drink it/behave in that way, but do you want to? The key here is to trust yourself. 

Move every day. I have exercised and worked out for as long as I can remember, but it wasn’t until I changed my language that this habit became more enjoyable. My workouts could often feel like something I had to drag myself through. But when I set the intention of simply moving my body every day, it became something more innate, more natural. I was able to get more present with how I wanted to move, as opposed to how I felt like I should move. As humans, we are meant to move. This doesn’t mean we have to attend a HIIT class five days a week. Maybe it’s a long walk, a yoga class, hiking in nature, or playing with your kids on the playground. They say sitting is the new smoking, so any time you can get up and move your body is a win. And if the holidays tend to stress you out, what better way to move that energy through. 

Eat and drink to your pleasure parabola. I’ve written about this before, and it is still a tool I use today. The great thing about this one, is that it can be applied to any social situation, not just the holidays!  

Prioritize your happiness, stress management, and self-care. If there is ever a time to think of others, it is during the holidays, but that doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice your self-care. I can’t tell you how many times I heard my health coaching clients say they behaved in a way to make others happy even when it went against their health goals. Just because your grandmother insists you get seconds, doesn’t mean you have to if you have had enough. When your brother breaks open another bottle of wine, it doesn’t mean you have to drink another glass if you have had enough. When everyone else is staying up late, you have full permission to go to sleep if you are ready. Bottom line: you do you with a “sorry not sorry” attitude to stay aligned with your best health and self. When you are able to show up as your best self, others around you benefit!

*A word about feeling guilty after a holiday indulgence: guilt is a very strong and necessary emotion. As humans, we are meant to feel guilt in areas of morality and relationships (to avoid breaking the law, or hurting someone you love). It is an emotion to prevent certain unwanted behaviors. We are not meant to feel it in the face of food. When we do, we are judging ourselves for something that is needed for survival. When you view food objectively (without judgement), there is nutritious food (it benefits your physical body) and there is non-nutritious food (it doesn’t benefit your body). Both have their place. I categorize the former as “cell-nourishing” and the latter as “soul-nourishing.” The green smoothie you consume most mornings is “cell-nourishing;” your favorite slice of cake you enjoy on your birthday is “soul-nourishing.” When it comes to feeling guilty after eating, it is likely occurring with the “soul-nourishing” foods. Use the suggestions above: start with how you want to feel, give yourself permission to eat anything you want, play the whole tape, and eat to your pleasure parabola. As a result you are less likely to feel guilty. You have made a conscious choice in the moment. It doesn’t mean you will eat dessert every time, but on those occasions where you are present, with the ability to savor each bite, your body will be in the “rest and digest” state and able to better metabolize whatever it is you choose to indulge in (I talk more about this in my Counting Colors online course!).

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