The holidays can be a very enjoyable time. They can also be a nightmare for someone making lifestyle changes. We’ve all heard tales about Christmas or Thanksgiving being the day that “ruined me” or “derailed” the positive progress that was made leading up to them. It is a classic scenario for someone watching their weight to fear the holidays, vacations and any other special occasion for that matter.
Why are the holidays so tough? Well, for starters, the holidays are already putting us in a tricky position because we build them up so much. We’ve all heard someone say (or said it ourselves): “I wouldn’t normally eat that, but it is the holidays, so I have to.” Or you’ve been told (or been the one telling): “You have to eat this because it’s just not (insert holiday here) without it.”
Which reminds me of the most recent holiday (and inspiration for this week’s article), the 4th of July. We have all been to a gathering where there are assorted grilled meats, potato salads, corn on the cob, apple pie, etc. We’ve all gotten that first whiff off the grill when meal-time was near. We’ve all had the moment of decision as we filled our plates as well. “Should I stop?” “Is that enough?” We ask ourselves these questions, but we just keep piling the food on. Why? Because it’s the holidays and we think we won’t enjoy the day as much if we don’t eat as much as we can.
Now, when I put it that way, you can clearly see the flaw in our logic. In reality, how do we spend the rest of the day? We spend it uncomfortably full, tired and wishing we hadn’t eaten so much! Not to mention the mental game we are playing because we just “undid” everything we had worked for. Why do we know what we want, yet still do the opposite? This is a fascinating thought for me, not only because my clients are dealing with it every day, but because I too have found it to be a challenge.
So what can we do? Well, the 4th of July holiday really made me think this year. I was thinking about our freedom and all of the choices we have now. If we didn’t have these choices, life would not be very fun or fulfilling. But, what we have to remember is that we are free to choose. I feel that as soon as a certain day comes around or a certain option is in front of us, we throw choice right out the window.
I think we do this because we have surrendered to the moment. The holiday that we have been waiting for or the vacation that we are finally on makes us feel like we have to splurge in order to enjoy ourselves. When in reality, we don’t truly enjoy ourselves because we are physically uncomfortable and more significantly, we feel that we have gone against our natural choice in the first place and done something that we quickly regret.
What is the solution? While there are many steps that can be taken to change these habits, the first thing that needs to change is our mindset. The mindset of “doing whatever I can do to sabotage myself and go against the norm will bring me the most enjoyment right now” is clearly not giving us what we want. We may have a short period of enjoyment, but long term and even immediately following, our actions do not bring us the results we want, and therefore we are really letting ourselves down.
The mindset that will help us succeed is this:
Take the vacation, don’t let it take you
Celebrate the holidays with your choices and you will enjoy your results. If you leave it up to chance, you know the possibilities and know how you will feel afterward. When you get away, realize that the choices you make now will impact you now and in the future. We are the same people on vacation that we are at home. There is no way to forget or pretend what happens on a trip and have it somehow not affect us when we return home. Going with a goals and a realistic plan will help you manage the choices you have while still enjoying them, both during and after you make them.
Business Health Expert Joe Byrd uses his passion and expertise to bring business and health together. He integrates health education in lifestyle topics such as Stress Management, Weight Management, and Smoking Cessation into businesses in order to accomplish the following: Improving Employee Health, Decreasing Health Care Spending, Increasing Your Employee Productivity, and Improving Employee Satisfaction and Retention. Joe applies his craft in the business world by making health part of business strategy. As he helps companies invest in their employees, together they create healthy and successful cultures.