I hope your week is off to a good start! I am in full on vacation countdown mode… only 3 days until my family heads to the beach for two weeks! We will be celebrating Christmas and ringing in the new year together in the sun. I can’t wait!
The weight loss noise is raging loud and clear right now with new year’s day just around the corner but I am choosing not to diet or try to lose weight before this vacation.
I spent way to many years trying to manipulate my body before vacations (or any special event for that matter). I’d see the trip on my calendar and instantly start to panic as I counted backwards to figure out how much time I had to get “beach ready” or “vacation ready” or “reunion ready” or whatever. Let me just say this: it never went well.
I would come up with an eating and exercise plan, try to strictly follow it, feel intense anxiety, and think only about how much weight I had lost (or how much I needed to lose, or what I should eat or shouldn’t eat, or how guilty I should feel because I wasn’t sure the exact measurement of what I just ate, and on and on). I’d basically black out of my real life leading up to the experience because all I had room for in my brain was how to make myself smaller.
All of that “willpower” made me feel frantic. Ultimately, I’d end up eating everything in sight. If I could actually make it to the event or trip without “going off my plan,” it was a free for all once I got there. Truthfully, I barely ever made it to the main event without “cheating” on my plan. These all out binges left me feeling physically uncomfortable (what I would refer to back in the day as my “food hangover”), emotionally uncomfortable (oh the guilt and disappointment in myself were almost too much to bear!), and mentally uncomfortable (the negative self talk was off the charts).
I was all around uncomfortable.
It took me years of this cycle to realize it wasn’t worth it. It wasn’t worth blacking out of my life for weeks because all I could think about was how flat my stomach would look in a bikini. It wasn’t worth the anxiety of food obsession. It wasn’t worth the guilt, shame, and disappointment when I wasn’t “perfect.” It wasn’t worth feeling like crap about myself because “I could’ve been smaller.” It wasn’t worth the exhaustion from the whole cycle. It wasn’t worth feeling sick after I ate anything that wasn’t nailed down.
And, when I saw it was costing me way too much, I decided I was done. And then came what I will lovingly refer to as “UGGGHHHHHH WHAT THE EFF DO I DO NOW??!?!” Stage (or stage 4 below).
- Stage 1 was trying everything I could to make something work for me that didn’t work for me.
- Stage 2 was the little idea that just because it didn’t work for me didn’t mean that I was wrong.
- Stage 3 was realizing that it wasn’t worth what it was costing me.
- Stage 4 was UGGGHHHHHH WHAT THE EFF DO I DO NOW??!?!
- Stage 5 was starting the work to change.
If you’re at Stage 4, I want to share with you a few of the mindset shifts that helped me do the work to get to a place where I see a vacation on my calendar and I think “I can’t wait to relax on the beach!” rather than “I NEED TO FIX MY BODY BEFORE THIS TRIP!”
Whether you’re feeling pressure about an upcoming holiday party, taking Christmas card photos, wearing something fancy on New Year’s Eve, a winter getaway, or being a “new you” in the new year, I hope these will help you feel supported:
- Start to think of yourself as a whole being rather than a number on the scale or dress size. You are your heart, your feelings, your thoughts, your dreams, your energy, your presence. You are a being made up of a mind, body, and soul. You physical body is a home for those things, it is not the whole of who you are. This shift really helped me to see how hyper focusing on my physical body and it’s “numbers” were actually causing me to engage in behaviors that were harmful to the rest of myself. When I was honest with myself, it turns out that my behaviors were actually harmful to my physical body, too. Take an inventory of your behaviors in relation to your WHOLE self.
- Think about a trip or party where you had so much fun. What made it such a wonderful experience? What were you focused on? My guess is that you didn’t spend the entire party or trip admiring your body in the mirror or looking lovingly at the scale the whole time. When I did this exercise with myself, I had to go all the way back to my childhood to find a vacation that felt like pure fun. I was running around on the beach, jumping in waves, napping in hammocks, drinking (virgin) coladas, and laughing a lot. It became clear that fun, at least for me, was less about focusing on myself and more about letting myself fully experience the people and space around me. Notice what fun is for you.
- Remember that a day is just a day. The day before vacation? Just a day. The day of a big event? Just a day. When you start to look at all days as “just days,” you can stop putting so much pressure on them. Each day is an opportunity to live in your body. Your needs will change day to day, so really all you can know is what you need today. I think of each day as a chance to practice kindness for myself, to move in ways that feel good, to eat food that tastes delicious and gives me energy to do what I love, to hug the people I care about, to take adventures, to laugh, to cry, to rest, to stare at twinkle lights for an hour while I drink my coffee, to play in the waves. And, to practice forgiveness if I forget. This commitment to take care of my whole self each “day” as I live in my body helps me stay grounded when the weight loss noise gets loud. Check in with how you can practice living in your body today.
Sending you lots of love this holiday season!