You’ve been rocking the plan. The weight is being released, you feel better than you have in years and then….
If this is your first sugar free holiday, you may be experiencing a little anxiety. Or a LOT of anxiety. It’s the office parties, the cocktails, the shopping, and the baking, because, that’s what you’ve always done right?. And for some, the winter season brings with it cold dark nights which can lead to winter blues or in some cases, severe depression. This is the time of year when it’s really easy to say “I’ll get back to weight loss after the New Year.” Been there. Done that. The lizard brain puts on his Santa hat and beard, let’s you know you deserve all this and off you go over the river and through the Christmas cookie buffet.
The other day I went clothes shopping. I needed some options for the holidays and a beach vacation (and yes, that includes buying a bathing suit). I hate shopping in general, but in particular, clothes shopping can send me into hardcore overwhelm. There’s nothing worse than going into a department store and weaving through racks of clothes that don’t have your size. This time wasn’t as intimidating because I’m now in a size that every store carries: Size 10. And, since I’m not at my single digit size goal yet, I had all sorts of conversations going on. I decided on some black slacks and a few festive tops to see me through. As I tried on a tailored pair of size 10 pants I stared at myself in the mirror in disbelief. The ghost of Christmas past sidled up to me in that dressing room. I flashed back on years when this moment would not have been possible. I haven’t been a size 10 in decades.
I started bawling. A huge mix of emotions. It was a mix of regret, sadness, gratitude and disbelief. It was me noticing how I still had that conversation of “not enough” going on in my head, and yet there I was, trying on size 10, down from a size 20, standing in a dressing room and not cringing. I just lost it. I recognized how hard I’ve been on myself, to that girl in the mirror. I’ve beaten the crap out of her. And she’s getting close to her goal and I’m still, at times, very hard on her. I’ve worked really hard for that size 10. And maybe it’s not come off as fast as I had hoped. And maybe I will be judged for putting my journey out there in the public eye, warts and all….because I’ve not done this perfectly. Not by a long shot. But, I’ve done something I never really believed was possible. Maybe it’s small for others, but for me it’s a really big deal. And I realized I’ve been holding back on acknowledging that. It’s moments like these, despite the mix of emotions, when I really get what this journey is all about. This isn’t just about fitting into “normal” clothes. This is the outside beginning to match how I feel on the inside. I can walk by mirrors and not cringe. I never really got how big I’d gotten, so photos and mirrors were incredibly painful. And now, it’s still taking time to fully take in how much smaller I am, how much younger I feel–that this is REAL. I still have more pounds to go before I sleep, but I am awake, I am conscious, and that feels better than any Christmas treat.
The biggest lesson in all of this is…You’re not going to do this perfectly. Many of us will dive deep into the all or nothing approach, especially during the holidays. And that, fellow BadAsses, is what will sink you faster than any cookie or cocktail. Am I saying go ahead and give yourself permission to slip? I am not. But part of why you probably haven’t been successful with permanent weight loss in the past is that All or Nothing approach. You have a slip and you decide to continue the slide down the wrong side of the mountain.
Think about how much time and brain power gets spent on recrimination. How much time do you spend beating the living crap out of yourself for not doing it perfectly, for screwing it up, abandoning the rules, caving to the moment? My guess is A LOT. So this year, my holiday wish for you is to practice using the F word: Forgiveness. Stop expecting perfection and flawlessness when it comes to this journey. It’s unrealistic. We have our moments. What will make the difference is how quickly you course correct. I challenge you to remove the “I’ll get back to it tomorrow” approach. Correct in the moment. If you have a slip, don’t turn it into a binge. Drink a glass of water, clear the slate, and get back on track. I’ve gotten a number of emails over the last couple of weeks from those who say “I’ll start after the holidays.” If that works for you, great, but I challenge you to consider why you’re putting it off. Not only is it possible to begin now, there is real power in beginning right now, against all of the conversations that will whirl in your head at the thought of that. Make a list of why you’re putting it off. Then make another about why you shouldn’t. Just know it’s possible to begin right here and now. It’s possible not to hit the pause button if you’re already under way. It’s even possible to continue releasing weight through New Year’s Eve. Just notice what’s stopping you and be willing to challenge those reasons.
Your biggest challenge is not what you put in your mouth, it’s what you allow to happen in your head.
Changing years of habit is hard. When you unhook your brain from the powder, it does become easier to stay on track. But it still requires focus and determination. It’s important to acknowledge that because another big mistake we make is continuing the conversation around our actions never being enough. We think it’s not going fast enough, we haven’t prepared enough, we’re not strong enough or disciplined enough. Take “not enough” out of your vocabulary. Build up your arsenal with the right kind of ammunition. Create the evidence that you ARE making real changes. Whether it’s a couple of pounds or 50, you’re doing this. You’ve committed to a new way of eating and that is incredibly awesome and brave. Don’t discount it. Don’t pass this off as another failed attempt. Change up the conversation as it’s happening. Make a list of all the things you did “right” today. Force yourself to list 5 things you appreciate as you start each day. Begin changing it up and stay determined to more quickly move past the negative self-talk.
You are not a crazy person for having anxiety about making these big changes. Our brains are wired to LIKE the old and true ways even if they no longer serve us. Holiday memories are often intertwined with feasts and desserts and treats and emotions. No, you’re not crazy for freaking out about that holiday party and the food they will serve. What was crazy for me was realizing how much time and energy I was spending on beating myself up, or feeling hopeless about my mind and body when it came to my weight. I was carrying more baggage than the pounds I carried. Taking that energy and using it to take action is what worked in the end. And I’m still a work in progress.
In the dressing room that day, I felt a release. In the end, I felt hope and peace and gratitude. Big course correct. That girl in the mirror is evidence that change is possible. Transformation is possible. Just for today, believe it’s possible for you. One moment, one choice, one day at a time. Wishing all of you happy holidays filled with peace, love and forgiveness.