Everywhere I look I see things that say to enjoy Christmas all you want, indulge in the holidays, but once January 1st hits we need to do the opposite and start diets and going to the gym and doing crazy ab workouts to feel better about the lil holiday pudge we may or may not (definitely have) adopted throughout the Christmas parties, the eggnog flowing and Christmas cookies running wild.
If you’re feeling stress to start a new year’s diet, please take a quick read of this post and evaluate if you still want to (spoiler: I’ll encourage you not to).
Today’s post is the first one where I am writing about body positivity. If you’re not familiar with this here a quick definition;
“The Body Positive Movement is a movement that encourages people to adopt more forgiving and affirming attitudes towards their bodies, with the goal of improving overall health and well-being. Whether people are nurturing their bodies and maintaining their weight, or finding a place in life where they are comfortable through working out, or changing their lifestyles to find a better attitude, the body positive movement focuses on building self-esteem through improving one’s self-image”.
I think this is hugely important in a world full of photoshopped ads and men and women feeling increasingly dissatisfied with how they look to work towards a body positive culture.
There is an Aerie model I really admire named Iskra Lawrence who has become a pretty big spokesperson for body positivity, self-care and self-love in the past few years. She has a fantastic TED Talk I’m linking here where she talks about the importance of dropping the need for perfection and be more gentle with ourselves. In the TED Talk Lawrence talks about how marketing and branding are meant to sell us products. And that to do so marking is meant to make us feel insecure so we will buy the products being sold to us; “If we are insecure, we are a motivated consumer. We can be sold anti-wrinkle cream by 13 years old”.
Lawrence also tracks down the roots of these insecurities and then aims to challenge these insecurities with practicing self-care. “Why is it that we feel these insecurities in the first place? Because from a young age we have been conditioned to believe that our success, and our happiness is highly dependent on our attractiveness”. She encourages her audience to recognize feelings and pressures we face to look a certain way and think about our bodies differently.
There is a lot of research that shows dieting can be harmful, and it’s more important to have an overall healthy life style than to stick to a crash diet or cleanse. So as we enter into the new year when so many people are swearing off carbs or sugar or whatever is trendy – remember that a healthy life style is more important than a quick fix diet. Diets are hugely psychological and can make you feel worse about your self, being on diets makes you lose more muscle than fat and over time diets can make you gain more weight and develop unhealthy psychological patterns and eating habits.
Rather than swinging in the opposite direction from the holiday treats to losing the holiday pudge, it’s better to stick to a balanced life style that is more sustainable. Trying to maintain an overall healthy lifestyle of sleeping right, exercising, drinking lots of water, and eating right (including treats every now and then) is much better for you than dieting. What do I mean by ‘healthy food’ or ‘eating right’? Well, my resident nutrition wizard/ kin student/ cherished friend Emilia says that “sticking to mostly whole foods, incorporating lots of vegetables, homemade foods – enough treats and junk food to keep you sane” is a good start.
I will just say this – please don’t stress. Healthy life styles are better and more effective than crash dieting, and healthy life styles include letting ourselves indulge in treats every once in a while. For more tips on living finding the right balance for you, for life in general, I found this article helpful!
Don’t Turn Christmas Into A Lifestyle
(But don’t forget to indulge either)
The biggest thing I can encourage you to do is not to feel guilty for treating yourself over the holidays and reacting by feeling the need to work it all off at the gym next week. It’s important to remember that we don’t have to feel bad about indulging over the holidays, we should be grateful that we get to. Yes maybe we went a little overboard on the amount cinnamon coffee cake and hot chocolate but that’s a blessing to be able to enjoy that.
It’s okay if you’ve got a little post-Christmas pudge because your body will balance out, but even more than that, because you aren’t defined by your body. There is no ideal way we should look, perfection is unattainable and the cost of trying to attain perfection is detrimental to both our mental and physical health. A line I love from Iskra’s TED Talk when she is emphasizing the importance of redefining beauty to celebrate personality, morals, values, achievements rather than a person’s appearance is: “We need to stop trying to attain perfection because we are good enough already”.
So, on top of trying to find a healthy balanced life style (because as much I would like eggnog and cookies to be my breakfast everyday I know my lactose intolerant body couldn’t deal) I think remembering to practice self-care is important, especially if you’re feeling self-conscious about the way you look. Iskra suggests two activities that can help with this:
- Mirror challenge: pick our 5 things you love about yourself. 5 things that you love about your body for what it does for you (rather than what you look like).
- Gratitude list: knowledge of what you are lucky for in your life. Refuse to let things like clothes/ looks ruin your day or challenge the knowledge that you have about how great your life is.
As we move through holiday celebration remember that it’s a priviliege to have time with family and indulge in holiday treats, and if you have adopted a lil holiday pudge in the last few weeks (or if you’re still wokring on it, because we still have a week of holidays ahead of us) that’s okay and it doesn’t make you less beautiful. We don’t need to buy into pressures to look a certain way, and if you’re focus is on being balanced, caring for yourself and practicing self-love you’re on the right track to a healthy new year.