You can feel it; it’s just around the corner— the holidays—that quintessential, intensely wonderful time of year from Thanksgiving through New Years (some might say through Super bowl Sunday) where we celebrate! We give thanks for our largess, reaffirm our faith, strengthen our relationships with one another and our higher powers, and ready ourselves for a brand new year, welcoming the promise of a new start, a fresh beginning and resolving to be better in some or even many ways.
It’s all good, at least on the surface of things, yet, for many maybe even most of us, one or more of those New Years resolutions involve getting back on track and losing all the extra inches we gained in the course of our celebrating. Because along with the special atmosphere of the holiday season comes what I call the Big Bloat; a time when we cram enormous amounts of food—much of it the wrong kind—and drink into our rapidly expanding bellies; and we almost always regret it when it’s over— “ I can’t believe I ate the whole thing… so many times!” I know, it’s an old cliché but clichés become clichés because they are true!
So how can we avoid having to deal with the remorse and guilt of over-indulging in all things gastronomic and potently potable for the next month and a half? Here are 5 simple, powerful, and effective tips, and yes, NOW is the perfect time to prepare yourself.
- De-stress—Most of us live in chronic stress and most of us generally don’t process and release it very well. So, when the holidays arrive—as joyful as they can be, they come with extra stress—we use that period as an excuse to let loose and blow up, so to speak; the overindulgence in food and drink numbs us for a time. Of course there is a price to pay, and that is the guilt and remorse of the aftermath, the holiday hangover. If you start a program to de-stress now, you can enjoy the holidays feeling calmer, balanced, focused, and in control. How? Here are two easy ways, and they are timeless in their effectiveness:
Exercise: Take some time every day to move your body. If you already work out just up it a bit and if you don’t currently exercise then start now— before the holidays. Even 20 minutes of daily walking will help you feel better and in control.
Breathe: At least once a day, find a place where you can sit quietly and comfortably with NO distractions of any kind. Close your eyes and take 21 slow deep, gentle breaths; count them. When you reach 21 you will feel marvelously calm. Do this every day starting now. It will help you stay conscious, aware and in control throughout the holidays.
- Pre-pave and trigger temperance— Pre-paving is in essence programming your internal, subconscious computer and it’s a very simple process. Starting now, take a few minutes every day to envision yourself keeping your intake moderate and balanced throughout the holiday season. Imagine, picture or visualize (“see” in your mind’s eye) your eating just enough at Thanksgiving, eating a little more slowly, enjoying every bite and feeling satisfied and full with eating just enough. Then “see” yourself feeling great and proud at your self control, wearing a smile of pleasant satisfaction. Now see if you can actually generate that feeling based upon your visualization and when you do, simply squeeze the thumb and forefinger of your left hand and hold the pressure for a few moments while you breathe deeply. That squeeze becomes the trigger of temperance. Later, if or when you feel tempted to blow it all, you can squeeze the trigger and be brought back to this vision and feeling and in that moment you have a great chance to stop the train of over indulgence before leaves the station and builds too much momentum. Pre-paving is really a form of self-hypnosis—conditioning and allowing your subconscious to guide and trigger your behavior. You won’t have to rely solely upon will-power which is a very weak an ineffective energy for most of us. You can pre-pave and trigger throughout the season, for all the events, cocktail parties, etc, and your subconscious mind will help create the behavior and control you are asking for. Bonus—a great time for pre-paving is right after the 21 breath exercise I mentioned above.
- Maintain—Stick to your health and wellness program throughout the holidays. If you travel to see relatives pack your sneakers and sweats. In keeping to your normally healthy routines, you remain conscious and mindful of the bigger picture—the greater you—and you have less desire to fall into the well of unconscious indulgence and its ugly aftermath. And if you do fall in once or twice— hey nobody’s perfect— you are already in the mode of working it off.
- Commit— Consciously commit to total Self-kindness. All behaviors are the result of a choice, most of which are unconscious. Consciously committing to self-kindness is simply deciding that you will only make choices that serve your personal growth, well-being, and the greater good. This conscious commitment will dove-tail very nicely with your maintaining, pre-paving and de-stressing; using both parts of the mind to create the attitudes and behaviors you want to display.
- Look ahead— How do you want to feel on January 2nd, or if you celebrate the holidays through the Super Bowl, on February 4th? Think about it now. Do you want to feel like you essentially lost yourself for those two and a half months, or would you rather get there feeling healthier, and prouder of yourself than ever before? It’s your choice. If you create the image of you the way you want to feel, every bite and every sip along the way will be more conscious, and you will “know” when it’s time to stop; the “future you” will be guiding you through it. I promise it works, and you will thank me and yourself when it’s over.
So there you have it; using these five easy steps will keep you in good stead; you can have a great time this season and enjoy all the goodies, but in moderation and temperance; avoiding the Big Bloat, and saving your resolutions for something besides losing all the weight you gained.