Aggghhh Christmas. The chaotic Christmas. Running around for last minute Christmas presents that we have no idea of what to buy, shopping with the crowds at the supermarket and spending hours in line at the “check out chick” with Mariah Carey being blasted out of the speakers all the while thinking “god – just get me outta here! Pllleeeeaaaassseee!!! I’ve got presents to wrap, food to prepare, people to see – so much to do! And get myself prepared for my crazy family coming!” All the while asking yourself if it’s ok to already crack open that bottle of wine in the trolley…..(it is, isn’t it???!!)
But this is not the hardest part at this time of year. The hardest part is always the self reflection, what I did and didn’t achieve and how I (once again) didn’t lose the weight I wanted to. I would end up with a first class ticket down the negativity rabbit hole, loathing my body and feeling like a complete failure (again!). And then come the thoughts of “No, I’ll be good this Christmas, I won’t go crazy, I’ll watch what I eat and I”ll go running…must go running….and do lots of tricep dips” And if any of you are like me, this is then just followed by the “Oh just f*ck it! It’s Christmas and I’ll start my diet again afterwards” and you won’t find me among the presents, but knee deep in mince pies and Christmas pudding (with extra ice – cream please!). Followed by days of extreme body punishing exercise to burn it all off, all the while trying to not eat any of the leftovers. Oh and please, for the love of Christ, don’t pull out that camera – because if you do, I’ll just rip up the photos, unless I somehow look super hot, otherwise any bingo wing photos, double chins and sleepy eyes and they’re going straight to the bin! (because,you know, who needs amazing memories of our incredible life??!! *heartbreaking)
And then it starts again. The diet-binge cycle and the post Christmas guilt train. Because I ate too much. I put on the Christmas pounds. I went way past that (imaginary) line of OK. And that nasty woman in my head is in her element telling me that I’m a failure -a fat, ugly, worthless, useless failure. And I have once again, fallen off that “wagon”. But then I make that promise to myself that I’ll do better next year, that I’ll commit myself and I’ll have waaayy more will power. Because that’s all this is, isn’t it?? Just a lack of will power?? Lack of control??
WRONG. Here’s some real talk – Trying to control your food is what puts us in this predicament in the first place. And at the heart of all this is the fact that we hate our bodies, because we live in this dreamland that “if only I could lose the weight, everything else in my life would fall into place, I’ll be loved, respected, happier, get that super cool job, marry Hugh Jackman….” (joking, you don’t get Hugh – I do. )
So here’s the thing – you’re not going to end up looking like Santa after your Christmas feast, so you can stop freaking out about it. But you can enjoy every bit of Christmas, the table full of decked out food, the wine, your crazy family that you love, the presents from your family that you cringe at, (So don’t forget your high pitched reaction of “oooooh. A jumper. I’ll wear that” – dead giveaway that you won’t!), the reactions on your child’s face in the morning when they see that Santa has arrived, the endless board games, the hugs, the laughter and even the traditional fights. All of this without the added pressure on yourself of “trying not to put on those Christmas pounds” and the guilt that comes with it if you try to enjoy any of the food. And it starts by giving you the one Christmas present that you really, bloody deserve – some self care. Ready?
1/ DON’T PUT YOURSELF ON THE DIET WAGON: The times when you fall off a wagon, is when you put yourself on a wagon to fall off. That being a set of rules, ideals, or beliefs around food that we let determine how we feel about ourselves. You end up saying “I’m not good enough and don’t have enough will power, I suck at this” and then you head face first into the Christmas pudding. As long as the wagon is there, there will always be a high chance you’ll fall off it. So make peace with yourself and your food and ask yourself “where am I judging my performance with food? Where and why did I draw the imaginary line of not ok?” The thing is, the food is not the problem, the wagon that you propped yourself up on is. And if you’re going to jump on any wagon this Christmas, make sure it’s the one of Santa’s filled with presents instead!
2/ STOP GIVING FOOD THE POWER OVER YOU BY FEARING IT. ALLOW YOURSELF TO HAVE IT: Chocolate your go to food? (it was for me!). Maybe it’s crisps? When we try to control our food, we end up always out of control, because somewhere we are judging, shaming and limiting ourselves around the food. You secretly wish you didn’t want it so much, you’re worried you’ll lose control, gain the weight and then the sky will fall in around us. We give food power over us by fearing it, telling ourselves that it’s “bad”. So this Christmas, eat that pudding with complete allowance. No shame, no guilt, no fear of losing control and no judgement. Eat it like you would have as a child, by simply enjoying it, without apologizing for it and letting it be part of the experience and memories of the day.
3/ NO MORE “F*CK IT! IT’S CHRISTMAS TALK”: Why? Because we end up in the mindset of “well, I’m just going to eat whatever I want and I will start the diet later”. This still leaves you in the diet mentality and also effectively means binge eating all day, which puts you straight back onto that wagon and falling straight off it again. You still have that guilt within you of “this is bad and I know I shouldn’t but f*ck it” and we start to shovel it in. Start shifting your mindset from self loathing to self care and start respecting your body for the incredible woman she is. Your body is not an ornament that needs to be molded or fixed like a home improvement project to be loved and respected. So nurture it with foods that make you feel good, both mentally, physically and holistically and that make you enjoy the moment of Christmas and no longer making Christmas about what you should and shouldn’t have.
4/ BE IN THE PRESENT MOMENT: Enjoy every succulent moment of that food. Chew it slowly. Listen to your body when it is hungry and when it is full. And be present, enjoying the food and the company around you without thinking about the next diet you’re going to go on after this, or how it is that you are going to fix it. If you’re continually thinking about what you can and can’t eat, what the next diet will be, you’ll be taking yourself away even further from what you body needs within that moment…..and the cycle and body hatred starts again.
And lastly….start appreciating and respecting your body for the amazing gift that it is. Let go of the fear, shame and guilt and open yourself up completely for all of the crazy Christmas moments, the laughter, love and happiness. Be OK with sitting with a full belly where your favourite jeans are about to pop, or with your body exactly as it is.
So enjoy your Christmas, put on the ugly Christmas jumpers (that are actually fabulous!!!), celebrate with champas and wine, hug, laugh, celebrate your incredible journey of another year, embrace and respect your incredible body for the amazing gift that it is.
And make sure to exist in every single crazy Christmas photo. Because those memories are far more important than the size of your waist.