Every year I get totally bummed out as I watch so many of you glorious moms bust your butts to create spectacular holiday gatherings for your big extended families, creating magic and memories that truly lift the spirits of those around you, only to worry the entire time about every calorie you take in, obsess over what you look like in what you wear, and fret over what the scale might read when the new year arrives. I’m not talking about the kind of self-checks that are about one’s overall physical health or current fitness/wellness goals that their doctor supports. I’m talking about the self-smackdowns that are tied to one’s self-worth.
Sorry I’m late; I looked fat in everything I owned so it took me forever to find something even halfway decent to cover myself up in.
Oh no, thanks, I really shouldn’t eat that. Or that. Or that.
Delete that picture—I look terrible and obviously can’t go near any more food until the holidays are over.
Cut me the tiniest sliver, like just a taste. No, smaller than that. Even smaller.
Welp I’ve already ruined my diet so I’ll have another slice of pie and just keep hating myself, ha ha ha.
(And don’t even get me started on jokingly calling someone a “bitch” because you think they look good, or commenting on other peoples’ food choices as if they should be on a diet, too.)
A non-stop narrative that threads throughout the holiday season that I genuinely want to grab in my fists, tear into itty bitty pieces, and bury away in a deep deep hole beneath a large boulder forever is the one between women about how much they should eat, are eating, or did eat, and the Negative Nancying of yourselves the whole time. The word “diet” gets thrown around a lot—usually about yours being ruined—as does the insistence that you do not look good because of your weight/size/shape. Caloric math is often announced at the cheese station or dinner table, making sure everyone within earshot knows how many calories are in each serving size and what it would take to burn them off. Fad diets are discussed in great detail, for loads of ladies in the room have already tried a slew of them and saved others to their Pinterest boards for later.
Then once the holidays are over, it never fails that even with all this extreme willpower to not enjoy any of the foods the festivities have to offer, you believe you gained a few pounds (ignoring the fact that humans were designed to fatten up during winter) or decide that you simply don’t look as good as such-and-such did at some party, so you need to make a New Year’s resolution to do something about it. Restrict yourselves more. Allow yourselves nothing. Squeeze in a fitness routine that gives you the punishment you deserve for being so “bad” during various celebrations.
So the months of holiday joy are miserable, as is the beginning of the new year.
Yeah, well. This sucks. It sucks for you and it sucks for me to have to watch this because I adore you and want you to be happy and there is a really, really simple solution to it all: stop dieting during the holiday season if it makes you so freaking miserable.
I have never dieted over the holidays.
Yes, I love food. Loooove it. I’m also a grown-up who can tell when she’s hungry and when she’s full. My body is a machine to fuel and my mouth is a place that prefers fuel that is delicious, so during a time when treats and meals that aren’t the typical 365 fare appear, I enjoy myself.
Enjoy the meals, the company, the experiences.
Enjoy the moments and believe I deserve it all.
I deserve to take care of myself—body, mind and heart.
I deserve to talk to myself like I’m worthy of all that joy.
You do, too.
You can do this, too.
Start talking yourself up instead of down. Say it until you believe it.
Throw out that word “diet” forever. Instead of looking at food, calories, weight as the enemy, look at yourself as a beautiful machine that needs fuel. Choose what makes you happy and enjoy reasonable amounts of it. There’s no need to deny yourself everything or on the flip side, gorge on everything: happy middles do exist. So do to-go containers, freezers, and recipes online with which to recreate the foods you want more of (but just not right now).
Instead of battling your weight, battle the weight you’ve been giving to the unwarranted opinions of people, media, and product marketing that insist women must fit into a certain aesthetic in order to be worthy of happiness.
I pinky swear that not dieting during the holiday season has yet to cause me to explode out of my clothing (whatever size it may be that year) or make people love me any less (including myself). In fact, since I don’t spend months tangled up in a losing head game about food, I’m both less likely to fall into the feed-my-feelings trap of grossly overeating, and am simply more pleasant to be around.
Not dieting has been a win-win for me in so many ways. I encourage you to try it this year. Love yourself exactly as you are for the next couple of months. Crawl out of the diet mindset and relish every moment for what it is: a quick taste of a fleeting holiday joy that should be savored while we can.