This week, my teenage daughter, Jess, and I started on our 25 Days of Christmas No Sugar Challenge.

As I share our experience these next few weeks, I want to also give you some ideas about how to manage your big comeback from the gluttony of Thanksgiving. 

I’ll be sharing about how to make smaller goals for managing new eating habits, exercise habits, getting organized, goal setting, and how to make it all happen without feeling demoralized. Instead, I hope you feel empowered!

The Slippery Slope….it’s not just for sledding

With all of the emphasis on food and feasts during the holidays, it makes sense that eating right becomes difficult. Just when you think you have your eating habits under control, someone puts a dessert in your face during a party, and the long slide down the slippery slope begins.

“It’s just one piece of pie. I’ll be fine. I’ll only have one.”

“I’ll start eating better again tomorrow”

“I can’t help it.”

“The food is too tempting.”

“I’ll just start my diet after the holidays.”

“I’ll exercise tomorrow.”

The list of things we tell ourselves is endless. Once you start that slide down the slippery slope of excuses, it can be really hard to climb back up to the top again.

Staying Motivated: The Power of Choice

In spite of all the problems of holiday eating, you have the power to make choices that are healthier, and can make your life easier.

Let’s say that you’ve been doing well with your healthy eating lifestyle. However, maybe you’re not ready to face the temptations at a holiday party, such as people offering you food, desserts, alcohol, or second helpings. 

Most people are focused on these sorts of temptations and problems, rather than their desired outcome and goals. As normal as this is, remember that your energy follows your attention. 

Break it into Bite Sized Pieces

“Eating healthy” is a broad goal, too general and too overwhelming! What does it mean to you?

Think about taking your day meal by meal. Stay on today. Think about a simple change you can make at each meal, or perhaps start by only changing one thing about your eating habits. 

Take baby steps, and transform one meal, like breakfast, and let that set the tone for the day. 

Changing everything all at once is overwhelming sometimes. Better to do it in steps if you’re afraid you might not be able to make major changes all at once. 

Let small successes add up!

Motivation is movement in the direction of your desired goals. 

Stay focused on your goals by writing them down on a small piece of paper or note card that you can keep in your pocket or purse.

Goals are things that are stated in a positive way, and they don’t have to be lofty, long term goals.

A goal can be as small as how you want to see yourself get through the day, or the meal, or the party, or whatever it is that you are going to do.

Also, remember your personal values, such as healthy, independence, mobility, employment, stability, love, trust, family, friendships, etc.

Use them as a way to focus on why you want to reach your goal. 

Here are some examples of things you may want to keep in mind that will help you maintain an empowered mindset for the next holiday party:

“I love myself and I love eating healthy.”

“I am maintaining my health and wellness.”

“I feel empowered eating healthy foods in just the right portion.”

“I love being a healthy role model for my loved ones.”

“I am taking care of my health by eating well.”

“I am connecting with people through my emotions, not through food.”

“I love being happy with my choices.”

Write down as many things are you want to help you stay on track. Things like wanting to wear a certain pair of pants, outfit, or look good for a trip, all matter. Nothing is too small.

Connect with strong, positive emotions! 

Strong emotions are the Velcro of our memories. We remember the good times and the bad times. The bland times just slide right off our brains the way an egg slides off a Teflon pan. 

Remember to think about what you want, not what you don’t want. Keep moving toward your goals!

by Diana Zilly, MS, MA, LCPC. Diana is a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor, Hypnotherapist, Life Coach and Educator, and former Adjunct Professor of Psychology at Joliet Junior College.

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