Here it is. The holiday season.
Party time, candy and cookie time, rich food time. Estimates for how much Americans gain during this season range from 5 to 15 pounds, depending on who’s doing the reporting. And the particular parties you bless with your presence, I imagine. I wonder if the weight gain phenomenon is more prevalent in New England and the northern climes, but I’d love to hear stories and strategies from those in warmer places as to their situation and strategies for maintaining a healthy weight (and healthy habits) through this time. I imagine every region has it’s own spin on the bacchanal that is the holidays.
Here are few survival tips:
Accept the fact that you won’t be losing weight this month.
Regardless if you are a party momma or a stay-at-homer, there is just more high-calorie food around. Just maintaining is a feat this time of year, so relax on weight goals right now. January will be here soon enough.
Keep on moving. Practice stress management. Tie them together.
Keep physical activity top-of-mind this month, and don’t miss an opportunity to move. Physical activity is great stress management, so if you didn’t get your packages in the mail on time, didn’t get to cards this year, didn’t knit all your friends sweaters or didn’t get invited to the right parties, move a little to release the emotion that sits in your body as a result of life not being perfect.
Focus on the peeps, not the table.
Food traditions this time of year carry deep resonance and a strong pull. For me, it’s my mom’s cookies, and anything resembling eggnog. It’s not always easy to remember that the reason for the season is really love, hope and connectedness. I know that many family relationships can be challenging, and that can drive us to seek comfort from seasonal goodies in unhealthy quantities. There’s a Buddhist practice that may be helpful in working with relationships this season. The Dali Lama describes a practice of bowing down to the difficult people in your life, and thanking them for the opportunity they have provided to help you to experience spiritual growth. Love and honor them! For me, this practice a) cracks me up a little, and b) opens me up to another way to seeing things beyond the way my conditioned judgemental mind does. Somehow, it makes it easier for me to step back and see the people who challenge me differently, and to forgive them for the pain they cause me.
Resist and renounce projections as to what it “should be”
As gifted American poet Mary Oliver says, Whoever you are, no matter how lonely or difficult your life is, the world opens itself to you this season. My wish for you is to feel that magic. My wish for you is that someone does the Buddhist practice of loving you when you cause them pain. And I wish you peace.