With the holidays right around the corner, I thought this would be a perfect time to share about my journey and how the holidays, as much as I love them, are some of the most stressful times of the year for me. This stress is not just with weight loss and working on my health and fitness goals, but with now trying to recover from an eating disorder AND being in a GLOBAL PANDEMIC. I am someone who struggles with a binge eating disorder and struggles with the all or nothing mentality. When I’m struggling it’s hard to find a middle ground and create some balance when it comes to food and what I choose to eat and choose not to eat. I go all-in hard OR I am super restricted and don’t “allow” myself to have anything at all. This is especially true around the holidays.
When I first began my weight loss journey, I stayed hardcore to my “diet”. I was on Jenny Craig at the time and yes I ate my frozen Jenny Craig meals for Christmas (and Thanksgiving). I was SO overly committed to losing weight that I did not truly allow myself to enjoy my favorite time of the year. It was to a point where made excuses like “I want to do this. This is what I am supposed to do. This makes me strong. This is how I will lose weight”. My family and friends would make comments about how disciplined I was, how they wish they had my willpower, how proud they are, and how “good” I am being. I know no one meant any harm by these comments and the reality is, they felt good. But what I didn’t realize is how much my self-talk, the comments of others, and my decision to completely restrict myself would come back to bite me in the behind later.
Fast forward a few years later and the holidays are here again. I had lost A LOT of weight and was almost at my “goal”. So I decided that I “deserved” to enjoy the holidays and “allowed” myself permission to eat anything and everything I wanted. I went all in and ate so much that I became sick, yet I could not stop eating. It got to the point where I ate so much that I almost threw up…and then kept going. I had the mindset of “I have to eat all of this food now because I will NEVER have it again”. I remember almost throwing up several times that night. Both out of being so uncomfortably full and sick AND out of guilt, shame, and fear of weight gain. I told myself that tomorrow I will hardcore workout, get back to my frozen Jenny Craig meals, and never binge again. I went to bed miserable, uncomfortable, mad, ashamed, and felt like I was a failure. Looking back now I can see how I did not fully realize how deep I was in an eating disorder and again how much this mentality would come back to haunt me.
As you can see, I have struggled with an Eating Disorder since the beginning of my journey but had no idea. It wasn’t until the beginning of this year that I received help with overcoming this eating disorder. Trying to undo, unlearn, and overcome this eating disorder has been hard, but I am so proud of all of the progress I am making. Even if it seems like I still have a long way to go…tiny progress is still progress and I absolutely will take it.
This year, I have been thinking about the holidays a lot and trying to figure out what will be best for me. Now I am fully aware of my all in or all out mentality, and my binging tendencies. My goal this year is to enjoy the holidays without feeling guilt, shame, completely depriving myself, or binging out, but especially keeping my goals and recovery in mind.
To add to the regular holiday stress, we are in the middle of a global pandemic, and living in CA, most of the state is completely shut down with strict stay-at-home orders. A typical Christmas with my family is out of the question, I feel like even if CA was not shut down, continuing to practice social distancing, wearing masks, and following CDC guidelines is essential for everyone.
These circumstances add extra stress to this holiday season. I am already missing my cousins and know I won’t be spending my favorite day with them. All of this said…sadness, stress, and anxiety also add to my triggers to binge. With all of these things going on I have been a mess, but I sat down after talking with my therapist and wrote in my journal my top 10 tips that I am relying on this holiday season to help me still enjoy the holidays.
My top 10 Tips for Surviving the Holidays 2020
Make a Plan
For me this is key. Making a schedule of how I want the day to go helps me to feel in control. I like starting the morning with a workout to get the day started on a positive note and to get some movement in. Then I love to get ready in some holiday clothes, do my hair, makeup (yes even if I am just going to sit at home all day), and figure out the foods I will be making, ordering, or enjoying. The plan does not have to be perfect but having some sort of schedule/plan help me so much
Don’t starve yourself
This one is so important. A lot of the time we will “save” calories, macros, or points for later so we can eat more food. But going into a party, celebration, or just a meal when you are starving is a recipe for disaster. You will more than likely eat way more than planned or find it hard to have any control or portions because you are so hungry. Eat your regular foods. Eat protein, fruits, and veggies, things that will fuel your body and fill you up. DO NOT starve yourself so you can eat more later.
You are in control
Yes, you! No matter what you are in control of what you do. The choices and decisions are up to you and you alone. What you choose to eat or not eat…that power belongs to you. Do not feel pressured to eat more, or less just because you feel you have to, someone tells you to, or makes fun of you. Going in with the attitude of “I can eat this but I am choosing not to” or “I am going to enjoy this and I will be ok” helps so much. Do not feel guilty, upset, pressured, or feel like you are “supposed to do anything”. Do what is best for you and remember you are in control of what you choose to do.
Even if it’s the holidays, you still have got to drink that good water. Don’t forget.
I love treating myself to something for the holidays. I ask Kevin to wrap it for me and put it under the tree. It’s usually nothing big, but I feel like gifting myself a present just because makes me feel good…silly I know but it helps. I also love doing a spa day, painting your nails, getting ready (even if you will be alone or at home). Any little thing you can do to show yourself some extra love and care also helps to take the stress and pressure off food and onto the love for yourself and others.
Holiday foods and dishes
As I said, the holidays look different this year. We are away from our family, friends, and normal holiday traditions. But that doesn’t mean you still cant cook your grandma’s pecan pie, your aunt’s cheesecake, or your mom’s spaghetti and meatballs. Whip out those recipes and make them yourself at home. It’s also good to do a drive-by to drop food off or have food dropped off for you. Carry on and continue with normal traditions in a different way. But I say, still enjoy those once a year holiday treats.
Facetime or zoom
This is a must for me this year. I facetime my cousins and friends all the time and it makes my heart so happy. This year for the holidays, I will call my family, eat dinner together over zoom, open presents “together” and still be able to fill my house with love. Remember it won’t be like this forever and we can take one holiday to keep everyone safe and still enjoy the time “together”. Change is hard but sometimes change helps us to learn to roll with the punches, blow in the wind, and go with the flow…you get it
Remember the true meaning of the holidays
This one ALWAYS brings me back when I feel overwhelmed, stressed…..remembering the meaning of the season is incredibly grounding for me. It’s not about the food, the presents or the decorations. It’s about love. I find when I can focus on that, I don’t need anything else.
Focus on the good
Even though there is so much going on in the world, in my life personally and in our own families, there is still so much to be thankful for. I may be struggling with food around the holidays, but I am thankful that I can get the help I need. Even if I can’t be with my family right now, I am so thankful for their love and support all throughout the year. Even though there is so much negativity and uncertainty in the world, I still have so much to be thankful for. Life is more than losing weight, worrying about what food we will eat and if we lose or gain some weight right now. In 5 years I won’t remember how much I weighed on December 25, 2020. I will remember how even during a global pandemic, I still choose to find the good, to be good, and to keep spreading the good and continuing to do the next right thing.
No matter what you do, what you eat, what you decide to do…enjoy! One day, one week won’t ruin all of your progress. Just do what is best for you and know you will be ok. Enjoy the time that you have and what you are surrounded by during this holiday season.
For this holiday season, I am choosing to follow WW and track my food. If I go over my points, I will still track my food, but I will try and be ok with it. I want to try and find that middle ground and happy place where I enjoy some holiday treats without making myself sick. My plan is to wake up, do a quick workout, get ready, facetime my family, and enjoy the most wonderful time of the year. It might look a little different and things may be hard. It might be a little sad, but when you fill your heart with love, keep looking for the good, know it won’t be like this forever, do your best, make the decisions that are best for you. Life can still be pretty amazing. It’s all in the way you choose to look at it. So smile…you got this.