Do you remember yourself as a young child, lying in bed on Christmas eve, mind racing with thoughts of reindeer, colourful toys and old Saint Nick? That feeling of waking up the next morning to a half-eaten plate of cookies in the living room, presents under the tree, and a smiling family to greet you? The joy that we felt was pure and innocent, but somewhere along the way, we lost the spark of Christmas. We traded our holiday cheer for stressful weight debates, and calorie counting. But it wasn’t the Grinch who stole Christmas, it was our own thoughts.
A few weeks ago I attended a birthday party where I met a lovely young woman. She couldn’t have been more than 18, and she seemed to embody a youthful exuberance. Yet in the short time I spent speaking with her, she made at least three comments about how many calories she must have eaten at the party. She explained to me that she couldn’t be indulging now, because she had to save up her calories for Christmas. This is the reason that Christmas doesn’t bring the feelings of joy that it once did. This is the reason that many of us feel overwhelmed by the holidays, and the reason that we don’t fully enjoy the time spent with our family. When we set our sights on weight loss, we lose sight of the important moments in our life.
When does the charm disappear?
At a very young age, we are introduced to our role models. Our mother, our grandmothers, our aunts and our family friends become the people we embody. We listened to their conversations as we grew, and we internalized the comments they made along the way. When they spoke frequently about their weight, their size, or their diets, we understood the importance of these conversations and figured that was just the way it was supposed to be. Some girls are beginning to develop concerns around their body as early as five years old, but around age 10 we shift our thinking from “what can our bodies do?” to “what do our bodies look like?”. It is around this age that we prioritize our thoughts of our bodies and our appearance before other things.
When Christmas comes around, those thoughts of sugarplum fairies are pushed aside by our concerns on the sugar content of dessert. As we lose sight of our Christmas cheer, we dive deeper into the anxieties we have developed over our physical bodies. Let me tell you from experience, the holidays are a lot more fun without the weight of body image resting on your shoulders.
Bringing the Charm Back
Changing the way you think is not always easy. Many times you may find yourself jumping back into those old habits of stressing over the decadent dishes at a party, and that’s okay. What’s important is acknowledging your thoughts, and correcting them as you can. Setting little reminders for yourself can be very important. Sticky notes in special places, or a reminder on your phone to be present and in the moment can work wonders on bringing your mind back to where it should be.
The most important thing to remember, is that you are allowed to eat what you want. Give yourself the freedom to feast, and don’t worry about what other people think. You are worth every bit of indulgence at any time of the year. When we tell ourselves we can’t have something, we often crave it more. So when we tell ourselves we can have something, guilt free, we are less likely to overindulge.
This year I am giving my Rebels a challenge. A challenge to allow yourself to enjoy Christmas!
Over the holidays, I encourage you to:
- Look at the joy in your children’s faces, not at the food on the table.
- Plan a family party, not your holiday meal plan.
- Count your Christmas cards, not your calories.
Instead of worrying over your body, trust in your mind. Know that the less you stress over your appearance, the more energy you have to enjoy your holidays. Bring the young girl inside you, the one who couldn’t wait to watch the Nutcracker every year, to your next holiday party. Inspire a next generation of women to find food freedom and lead by example. Make the conscious effort to bring the fun back, and don’t let the worries of how others see you change the way you see yourself.
When is the best time to start this challenge? Right now. No more saving up calories, and no more talking about your weight. Your body is beautiful, and it will be just as beautiful regardless of what you eat. Let you mind rest this holiday season, and know that joy comes from within. All you have to do is allow yourself to enjoy the Christmas charm.
Until next time,
Live Life. Love Food. Be Free.