The holidays are a glorious time of year - joyful music can be heard, so many bright and colorful lights can be seen, and time is spent with loved ones (even when that looks different this year). Another joy of this time is the wonderful meals and sweets that we devour. As someone who has been on a health journey through quarantine, I have been thinking a lot about what it actually means to be healthy and how indulging in these holiday meals fits into this idea.
I have come to the realization that health is not just working out and eating well all of the time. For me, that is quite unsustainable, as I love my sweets and I don’t want to give them up. There are some days that I don’t have the time or the energy to work out. I used to be of the mindset that I had to be perfect with my healthy lifestyle, and if I ate ice cream one day or skipped my workout, all of my progress was lost. Through a lot of mental work, I am now in a place where I can accept that life happens and I want to be there for it. Yes, in my day to day I try to eat well-balanced meals and move my body in some way everyday, but I also accept invitations to eat french fries and understand (or at least remind myself) that it doesn’t define my health.
With the holidays coming up, I am very aware that I need to be conscious of my thoughts surrounding my food and workout habits. I remind myself that I am allowed to eat the cookies and the potatoes. I am allowed to not do a full workout everyday. But I also don’t need to overindulge or give up on my goals because of my choices. Enjoying this food will not change my entire life, but it also might in an unexpected way; this is the first holiday season that I am not already thinking about how my New Year’s resolution needs to be centered around losing weight and cutting out all of the “bad” food in my life (just a reminder that there is no such thing as a bad food). I am not changing my habits or my lifestyle. I am accepting that this is life: eating the yummy treats and the healthy treats and the workouts and the movie days. And I wouldn’t want to change any of it.
I encourage you to remember to give yourself grace and enjoy all of the holiday treats you desire. Food does not have to define you. Trust me, I acknowledge this is much easier said than done, but it is important to remind ourselves that health is not just about the numbers. It is, more importantly, how we feel and our mental health. You are allowed to eat the good food. You are allowed to miss a workout. And you don’t have to make up for it the next day or week or month or year. Take time to actively give yourself some leeway, be aware of the resolutions you are setting and whether those ideas are contributing to your health or fixating on it, and most importantly find a way to be in the moment - either virtually or in-person - with those you love this holiday season. Happy holidays!