So you’ve made your decision! You won’t fall off the wagon over the holidays, right? This blog series should help you! We have already reviewed 4 simple strategies to stay healthy: dealing with unreliable stomachs, reducing unhealthy behaviors, targeting drinks, and finding methods to be selective and mindful during this busy season.
Now there is one last thing we need to do if we don’t want a big mess to clean up in January: PREPARE. Prepare so we don’t eat like a horse and drink like a fish for 3 weeks straight. Prepare to get some exercise in our busy holiday schedule. Prepare to make sure we sleep and relax when we need to.
Now don’t fret! Preparing doesn't mean that we have to start running 10 miles a day or go on a cleanse - although, you can do that if you want to! What I have in mind won’t be that hard! Let me tell you how you can spend a few minutes on this today using 3 easy steps to prepare, and then freewheel into the festivities.
If we don’t plan for some of the holiday temptations, we will have to react on the spot when they arise. The problem with “reacting” is that it involves emotions and will-power. Emotions are quite unpredictable. Will-power is a limited resource. We all have will-power, and if you are reading those lines, my guess is that you actually do have a huge lot of it. But relying on will-power all the time is draining, and the strongest of us end up giving in.
That’s why preparation is key. When we prepare, we give ourselves a chance to control situations and respond to them rather than react impulsively and be ruled by them.
I won’t go into a very detailed preparation process in this article. We will just see how and why planning works. If you want to learn simple and effective techniques to prepare for your holiday struggles, I have lots of resources and will be happy to walk you through the process. I can also give many examples and strategies that my clients or myself have used successfully in the past. Just get in touch!
Preparing effectively requires 3 easy steps:
Identify - Plan - Embrace
Good preparation doesn’t take forever.
First, you identify the health struggles you might run into. Just pausing and visualizing specific challenges is about half of the work done.
Let me give you an example. During the holidays, I won’t walk much because I won’t take the kids to school, swim practice, etc. Walking is my main exercise. If I cut it in half, that’s an issue.
Once you identify a challenge, think about a reasonable and pleasant way to handle it.
Two very important words here: reasonable AND pleasant.
Reasonable: If we set the bar too high, we will fail, feel terrible about ourselves, and give up altogether.
Pleasant: If we forget to focus on pleasure, we will hate our holidays, feel discouraged, and give up as well.
So, if I go back to my walking challenge, I could say I’ll replace walking with running or attending a boot camp class. But heh… I know I won’t enjoy that very much. So instead, I’ll plan on brisk walking in the neighborhood every time I call my family (during the holidays, there is a lot of calling going on!). It’s simple enough, it doesn’t add to my busy schedule, and I enjoy walking, so I know it won’t be a burden.
Whatever decision you make, be proud that you have a plan in the first place. Don’t feel guilty that it might not be perfect or that you are cutting yourself some slack. Remember that if you don’t have a plan, you will most likely fall off the wagon all together, so feel good about finding a compromise. Will I walk as much as usual over the holidays? Maybe. Maybe not. What counts is that I will walk.
Don't forget to adjust your plan
You too will find good compromises to handle tricky situations. You might not get it right the first time around. If you see that you can’t follow through with your plan, don’t blame yourself. Blame your plan. Go back to it and find a more suitable compromise. And always remember: make your goal reachable and enjoyable.
Prepare with me!
If you would like to receive individual guidance as you prepare for healthy holidays, why don't you schedule a Strategy Session with me? I will be more than happy to to help you figure out simple & effective methods to stay healthy or become healthier in the coming weeks and well beyond.
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In a Strategy Session, we will talk about your goals and go over strategies that other people (me included) have already used successfully when preparing for challenging situations. We will figure out together, which strategy could be the best for your situation and needs! I look forward to chatting with you. Let's Go!