“It is only a small piece, right?” says that little devilish voice whispering in your ear as you stand over the table covered with decadent food.
“You just had that chocolate cake last night!” screams your hips and your waistline in unison.
Holidays, gatherings, and vacations are the time that most people indulge in their weaknesses. It can be easy to justify why you just have to eat those french fries.
I mean, you can’t get those french fries just anywhere!
And, it is easy to overeat and consume way over your normal portion sizes.
Hey, you will be walking more, right?
Don’t forget about that extra alcohol that may or may not be part of your relaxation time!
To set the record straight, I am most definitely an advocate for having your healthy indulgence meals or partaking in a food that creates an emotional connection. There is nothing like my aunt’s potato casserole during the holidays.
The reality is that it all adds up and one indulgence can become two and two indulgences will become three. Let’s be honest — three indulgences are going to become four.
It is the time that most people fall off their healthy bandwagon and begin to make unhealthy choices, making it so much harder to quit when you are back to normal living.
But why? Why do we do it? We all do it!
There are many reasons — stress, not being busy, socialization, accountability, cooking for others that may not eat as healthy, expectations, etc.
Not to mention that sugar, fat, and salt are addictive and increase the cravings for more. I have read that sugar is 8x more addictive than cocaine. The joke of “I am addicted to sugar” becomes a little more real with that statistic.
Outside of the weight gain issue, all of this would be just fine, but a bigger problem arises. Hormonal imbalances.
Our hormones affect every single part of our being. When they become imbalanced, it can show up as sleep issues, brain fog, digestive pain, inflammation, weight gain, mood swings, stress, fatigue — the list goes on and on.
So, I say yes, have your indulgences and enjoy your vacation or your holiday. Do so with balance.
By using exercise, mindset, and food in harmony, you can indulge much more wisely and still create a healthy balance.
How do you do that? Here are some quick, doable tips to help you get started :
Recruit your family (or a friend) for an early morning workout or an after dinner digestive aid. Nothing says energy booster like the feel of waking up early and squeezing in a workout before heading to your day of activity. Make it fun by recruiting your spouse or your children or calling up a friend and meeting her for an active gab session. Not enough time to get in a morning workout? Then gather your family and go for a walk after dinner. Not only does that chase away the afternoon sleepiness, but it also helps with digestion. Bonus! One of my favorite activities used to be our after dinner walk on Thanksgiving Day. Instead of sitting around the table and letting our eyes droop, we would all tie up our shoelaces and go for a walk on the country roads. Quality time spent with family and still staying on my healthy life plan.
Get aligned with yoga or Pilates to decrease stress and increase strength and flexibility. Picnics and holiday gatherings are synonymous with stress and anxiety. For real- who can debate the fact that 99% of the time, you will be faced with that one uncle that makes your eye twitch? Most of use neglect flexibility and stretching in our regular workouts anyway. Why not start your day off with some spiritual connection and tap into the wonders of yoga and Pilates to challenge your strength, flexibility, cardio, mental focus, and controlled breathing. The workout will create relaxation, increase the release of those feel-good hormones, and improve your overall mindset to face the rest of your day.
Focus on what you can add, rather than what you can eliminate. Too often we get caught up in the fear of “what if.” What if my favorite dessert is there? What if I can’t say no? What if I have to watch while everyone else is chowing down on their french fries? Going into a situation with the mindset of fear and anxiety of having to eliminate something to be successful immediately creates more anxiety, stress, and potential for giving in. It also creates a negative mindset around indulging and food, which can ultimately create low self-confidence and a deep negative food relationship. But, if you can go into the situation with the mindset of “I wonder,” you create a more positive and energetic approach. “I wonder what cool things I might see today.” “I wonder what kind of games the kids and I can play in the pool.” “I wonder how good my belly will feel if I do not eat all that bread.” Focus on the ways you can indulge in the events, people, and opportunities of your surroundings. It is so much more gratifying!
Only indulge in what you can’t indulge in regularly. This is one of my favorite tips and has helped me many times. Make it a rule that you will only indulge in foods that you can only get once or twice a year. There is something so special and more satisfying when you know that you can only get a certain food at a certain time of year verses being able to eat a cookie that you can get anytime just by driving to the supermarket. When you focus on your indulgences being an event, you feel more satisfied and connected (and able to push away seconds). A good tip to remember is that it is only the first few bites of a food that tastes most amazing — seconds will never taste as good!
Deprivation is directly connected to setting you up for failure. If you focus on NOT wanting to overeat and NOT wanting to give into temptation, what is going to happen? You are more likely to give into temptation and overeat. It is that simple.
Too much indulgence does the same. If you give into temptations all the time, then your willpower muscle gets weak and you have a much harder time being consistent and achieving your goals.
Change your approach and you are better able to set yourself free!
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