“I’m starting to feel fat and I’m freaking out cause the holidays are coming up.”
Who has ever said those words, thought those words, or felt those words? Who has said those words and known they were ludicrous coming out of your mouth?
It’s those first five words: “I’m starting to feel fat” that hold the weight (figuratively, not literally). As soon as those words roll off the tongue you know you don’t mean it and you know you’re actually not fat but you just feel it. It’s just this thing you feel after eating too much, retaining water, feeling bloated, and not getting enough movement that begins to manifest into a feeling that’s no longer a feeling but your reality—but it’s only your reality within your own head. Not actual reality.
You’re not alone in those feelings. I have said those exact words before standing in front of the mirror wondering how I’m going to enjoy Thanksgiving dinner when I feel soooo fat. I know my feelings have no worth in actual reality but I’ve said those words.
I’ve ramped up my exercise routine the days leading up to Thanksgiving knowing that the day and subsequent weeks leading up to Christmas are filled with nothing but food.
I used to head out every Thanksgiving morning and run 10 miles. Yeah, 10 miles. Partly because I was crazy, partly because I enjoyed running at the time, partly because it was nice to run along the lake (where we spend Thanksgiving) but mostly because I thought it would offset the endless eating I was about to do. I didn’t really want to be out running for over an hour while my family was enjoying breakfast together and watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade (don’t knock the parade, I love it.) But I went out on that run anyways and when I came back I hurt from head to toe but gosh darn it, I was ready to eat and not feel a single ounce of guilt!
Ha! The thing is…those feelings don’t just go away because you over-exercise. The feeling of “being” fat or of not wanting to feel guilty for eating a lot doesn’t just go away from the offset of exercise. There’s a much bigger problem going on here and I want to take this time, right before the holidays, to offer some insight into how to begin to feel okay with the extra food around this time of year without going crazy on the inside because of the irrational fear of what’s going to happen on the outside.
Does your family actually care about those “last five pounds”?
We see it all the time: gyms, trainers, and the diet industry making that last push before the holidays to sell you on the fact that you can show up to your office holiday party or the New Year’s Eve bash five pounds lighter. And I’ve consumed it. I’ve thought that if only I can lose those last five pounds I’ll have some “wiggle room” come time for the holidays. I started to think if only I show up in the best shape of my life my family will give me a little extra attention or they’ll say something about the way I look and validate all my hard work. Now, I think back to it and it makes me sad that those thoughts even crossed my mind because my family doesn’t care about those last five pounds about the same as they don’t care if my hair is dyed blue (okay my mom might care about that, she had a tizzy when my brother died his hair red). They love me just the same.
But seriously, think about it. The holidays are a time to get together with your family from near and far to celebrate and they don’t care if you’re five pounds lighter or heavier than last year so why should we? But it’s also unfair for me to say that we shouldn’t care about those things because we have been programmed to care. Instead, I urge you to think about your precious time and energy that is being wasted by being consumed with the thought of those “last five pounds.”
We own the right to show up in whatever type of body size is comfortable to us—no restraints, constraints, or monitoring required. Realize though that there is a difference between trying to make for a little extra “wiggle room” by over exercising and strutting to Thanksgiving dinner feeling your best.
The holidays are temporary, so enjoy them
This is something I still struggle with SO MUCH. When you tend to eat food that is out of your norm your body reacts differently…duh. You’re introducing things to it that it hasn’t had in awhile so of course you might experience a little more bloat than normal or hold a bit more water. I still wonder why I feel or look a little softer after a big meal out at a restaurant and I have to remind myself all the time that these things are temporary, my body is simply adjusting. And it’s actually pretty fascinating to think about all the things our body is able to adjust to—food is no different.
During the holidays we’re bound to eat things we don’t eat on the regular, I mean if you eat pecan pie every day I want to be a part of your family, but for the large majority we are eating special foods or foods that are saved for this time of year. Enjoy them and let your body do what it’s going to do because guarantee the next morning it will be back to normal. And realize that some of the eating during the holidays is for enjoyment and the experience opposed to the actual feelings of hunger and that is okay because your body is well equipped to deal with the fullness.
My dad used to hammer this one home for me all the time: “It’s what you do a majority of the time that matters.” Or what Derek likes to say, “The small things don’t matter, the small things over time matter.” (Man, when did men become so profound?? Just kidding.) So in other words, if you’ve been exercising regularly and eating well for the months leading up to the holidays this one small time of indulging a little extra won’t matter too much, but same is true with the opposite. If you’ve been relatively inactive for the months leading up to the holidays and think over exercising or really “buckling down” before Thanksgiving dinner is going to make a difference, it really won’t. I promise the couple days, weeks, or two months of inconsistent eating habits and exercise routine are not going to derail, dismantle, or disrupt your home in your body.
Move often, or don’t. Eat well, or don’t.
Really…what it comes down to is recognizing that the holidays are special but everything you’ve been doing leading up to the holidays shouldn’t be lost or forgotten. If you want to continue moving often and eating well do it, that’s great! But if that part of your life takes the back seat for a little while then that’s great too! Go out and run 10 miles Thanksgiving morning because you enjoy it, because it’s nice to run along the lake and because you enjoy moving in that way…not to offset what you will eat or have eaten. The holidays only last for a couple of days, enjoy them to their fullest with the ones that you love, because I promise they are way more enjoyable when your attention is focused on the ones around you rather than on what type of body you bring to the party.