The holidays happen every year, at about the same time. Yet every year, we profess to be surprised by them. We’re blindsided, as if we’ve never had to buy a bunch of presents for a bunch of people before, or we’ve never faced a buffet table stacked three dishes deep with delicious goo. Oh mercy! What to do, what to do!
You have a choice before you, and a question to answer: are you going to be the “old you” and waddle through the season as you always have, making regrettable choices and berating yourself later, swearing you’ll change and it will work this time? Or are you going to be the “new you?” The one who makes reasoned choices, enjoys life, and doesn’t fall into old habits? Even if you haven’t lost a single ounce or if you haven’t gone for a walk in three weeks, the question is the same. Old you? Or new you?
I know there’s a lot of temptation around at this time of year. Regardless of your religious affiliation or level of observance (or non-observance), a cookie is a cookie, and there are cookies around every corner in December. People are wrapping up projects at work as they’re trying to wrap presents, the kids are taking exams and will soon be out of school … time is slipping away. So we grab convenience food, we have an extra cocktail, we help ourselves to the tins of treats on everyone’s desk.
It may seem contrived to say “breathe,” but I’ll say it anyway. Breathe.
You don’t have to lose your mind during the holiday season. You have a lot more control than you think you do. Plan and schedule like you do the rest of the year – just include things that you don’t always have to schedule. Like breathing. Or cooking several things at once to have in the freezer so that decent meals are readily available.
Now is the time to focus on your healthy habits, because your ability to deal with stress is directly related to how you feel, inside and out. So include a plan for yourself as you’re building plans for the rest of your world. Make sure you’ve set aside time and space for yourself – for a walk or a hike, a dance class, a yoga video, or just a simple stretch break. Believe me, you’ll be glad you did. When you move around and make good food choices, you’re better equipped for any challenge.
One more thing, on the topic of holiday candy and treats. Don’t buy them until the day before you need them. I’m serious. It’s December 15th, and if you already have in your possession the tiny candy bars that will go in folks’ stockings on the morning of December 25th, then you’re asking for trouble. Buy that stuff at the nth hour. I’m pretty sure there won’t be a shortage. I’ve seen food deserts in my time – areas where folks have limited or no access to fresh foods – but I have yet to encounter a candy desert.
New you? Or old you? Don’t wait to make January 1st your Square One. Today is square one, my friends.