The holidays are right around the corner and for so many this is a time of year that brings about  mixed emotions. Usually the slurry of emotions leave us unsure of how to feel. Even though this is supposed to be one of the most joyous times of year, they  can be overwhelming. I know my family is far from perfect and there is always a little uneasiness as my husband I try to navigate the sticky situations that family can present.

Toss in all of the holiday parties, end of the year deadlines, and weeks where your kids are out of school and it is easy to see why we, as women tend to put ourselves on the back burner and become a bit more relaxed with our routines. However, I’ve found that the more relaxed I get around the holidays, the harder it is for me to get back into my rhythm come January.

Often guilt and shame accompany this time of year. Whether we find ourselves over spending, over eating, or over drinking. It seems that we buffer our feelings and How to stop feeling guilt or shame around food, fitness, and your bodyemotions just to get by. After all, this is the season to eat, drink, and be merry, but usually the stress of the season leads to a bit more of the eating and drinking, and less holiday cheer all around.

You might be nodding in agreement, because you too have felt these same things and have found yourself buffering instead of facing the music. I am guilty of this. Thankfully we don’t have to wait until January, we can start today.

How to avoid guilt + shame around over eating, over drinking, and over spending: replace old habits and behaviors with new ones

First, let’s identify and acknowledge shame and guilt. Often they are interchanged, but they aren’t exactly the same thing…

Shame is feeling like YOU are wrong. It’s intense, it’s painful. Shame makes you feel like you have to hide from others because if they knew about you and all your secrets,  you’d be unloveable.

Shame is something I see so many women carrying when it comes to their food choices. It isn’t uncommon for us to feel like we have to hide what we ate from others to avoid being seen or to justify our food choices to minimize the shame we feel around them.

In our society, a woman’s worth is often tied to her external appearance.  It was for me growing up, and I see it still in other women, on magazines, even other coaches/ trainers that put too much emphasis on the physical goals without touching on the other important areas of health too. When we find that sweet spot of letting ourselves be seen, brining those things that make us feel shame into the light is when we can begin to shrug shame.

Guilt on the other hand, is feeling like you did something ‘bad’–Again, this comes up so often around food for women. We assign morality to our food choices, like it’s either a good or bad food. If this is true, then we either are good or bad for eating them #lies. 

Food is a neutral party. Neither good nor bad. Its our meaning that changes things.

“I cheated on my diet”…”I am so bad for eating this”… I am so guilty of saying things like that in my past. And what would usually came next? Shame. It was a vicious cycle that the diet industry kept me trapped in for years. I vividly remember the pain I’d carry when I was “too weak” and gave into my cravings. I felt like a disappointment and a failure.I cringe when I hear another woman say any of these things.

How can you beat guilt and shame before it beats you?

Bring it into the light. Share with someone you trust and you know won’t judge you. Even journaling about it can help. Express your feelings. Practice rephrasing or reframing those thoughts  for yourself.

Your value and worth don’t come from what you did or didn’t eat or whether or not you did or didn’t do a workout today.

Call out the lies- if you catch yourself talking negatively when you glance in the mirror or if you try something and do it less than great notice the thoughts + self talk that ensues. If its negative, it’s a lie, and it’s gotta go. Come up with counter arguments to those lies. Or better yet, create some mantras or words of encouragement you can repeat to yourself before you get in those situations that tend to bring out the urge to shame or guilt yourself.

What can you do if you are being guilted or shamed by others?

First, remember you can’t control or change other people, but you can change your environment and who you spend your time with.

Assess your current environment and the people you spend the most time with. Are they for or against you and your goals?

Take action: Change one thing about your environment, maybe that is removing foods that you know lead to you losing control. Maybe it’s investing in some dumbbells or bands so you can always move your body even if you can’t make it to the gym or your favorite class.

Who is one person you need to spend less time with? Create an action plan, who can you add to your circle that will help you?

Give yourself and others the benefit of the doubt. Whether good or bad, we are usually trying our best. We are doing what we can, with what we have, and it’s only reasonable that we would see others the same way. NO need to create extra stress or drama by believing anything other than this.

Give yourself some space to process. One way I do this is by  creating small margins of time in my day and/ or week to reflect. I am always talking to myself. If you could hear what’s happening in my head most days you’d probably think I’m crazy. But if I’m talking, I can’t listen to the negative voice. Then give yourself some time to just listen. 

Small steps you can take now in your mindset, movement, nutrition, and relationship with yourself:

Daily affirmations: The key with affirmations is to make them believeable. At first it might be a stretch, especially if you’ve gotten used to being bullied by your own thoughts. One thing I’ve done this year that has been so helpful in this arena has been to back up my affirmations with specific bible scripture. This way I am reminded that these things are in fact truth.
Start small and build up. It’s not the big things you do once in a while, but the small things you do daily that make the biggest impact. It’s tempting to want to change EVERYTHING at once, but that only sets us up to fail in the long run. Pick one thing and stick with it until it feels easy, then you can add another.
Slow down when you eat. I still struggle with this from time to time, but it is the first habit I teach my clients, so it is that important, and if you totally forget everything else you know about food this one habit is all you need. Slowing down allows you to feel full before you reach that uncomfortable stuffed feeling. Plus when you slow down, you get to enjoy your meal and your company that much more.
Choose movement that feels good and even a little indulgent. For me that is a mix of weights/ running or walking/ and some yoga sprinkled through my week. I used to snub walking because it wasn’t the sexiest. But you know what? It still burns calories, gets your heart pumping, and has some major benefits for your mind. So walk on! (if that’s your thing). The point is, moving your body is a gift and you get to decide what feels best. So forget the latest fad workout and just do you.
Alisha Carlson (8)
What is the hardest part of staying healthy during the holidays?