Create Your Own Healthy Holiday Culture

We are in the midst of the Holiday season and it’s likely that you are receiving mixed messages about what you “should” be doing this time of year. On the one hand, our culture (and maybe family… and friends…) would have us enjoy all the treats we can over the Holiday season because we (probably) already pigged out at Thanksgiving, so why bother eating well! On the other hand, we might already be thinking about immediately flipping the switch come January to lose the holiday weight (and then some). Ideally by February. Maybe we’re plotting how we can avoid all delicious (nostalgic, homemade) holiday foods. More likely, we end up in some unholy marriage of everything where you eat only the food that you ‘earn’ and if you go overboard, you punish yourself afterwards by going to the gym excessively, sleep be damned!

None of that is a ‘culture’ I want any part of. I want movement to be a joy and a gift. I want to work towards my goals everyday. I want to enjoy time with my family, and their food, without entering a shame spiral when I get home.

This year, I’m going to start to create my own Healthy Holiday Culture. I invite you to do the same.

The definition of culture that I’m going with is this:

the specific way a person or a group of people does something.

Although this is not a Webster’s accurate definition, it’s useful for my purposes. Is there a healthier way that I can approach “The Holidays?” Ways that feel healthier? Ways that both honor my individual goals and desires without alienating those around me? Ways that let me enjoy my family and friends without the guilty hangover?

Some ideas for creating your own Healthy Holiday Culture:

  • What kinds of choices can you make between Holiday events? We tend to think of the “Holidays” as every day from Thanksgiving to the New Year, but aren’t they just a few (or maybe more) events that take up a weekend or an evening here and there?

  • How can you set yourself up for success both before and after each Holiday gathering? It’ll probably be different for each one. Extended family versus immediate family. Friends versus in-laws. A weekend away or an afternoon down the street.

  • What are your non-negotiables for your health and for your Holidays? Is it your workouts? Is it your dad’s homemade pecan pie? Can it be both?

  • If you have goals for the Holiday season, like reconnecting with family, or taking restful time away from work, can you approach those goals in healthy way?

  • This is a great time of year for giving, but what about receiving? Giving to yourself? Taking care of yourself? Can both exist at the same time?

There’s no one right answer to any of these questions. The best answer is the one that launches you into the New Year feeling good about the time that has passed and the choices that you made and gets you ready for the year to come.