ASK COLETTE: How to avoid holiday weight gain and beat the blues
Looking for intuitive guidance about love, finding a new purpose, managing stress or connecting with your own sense of spirituality — or maybe you just want to be a tad naughty and chat about sex? Zoomer guru Colette Baron-Reid invites you bring your deepest heartfelt questions to Ask Colette.
Here, Colette talks to readers about beating the holiday blues.
My family and extended family all live within a couple of hours of each other, and we rotate who hosts the big Christmas Day meal. This year it is my turn and I am dreading it. I have been battling my own weight issues lately due to career challenges and my twin teenager girls’ moodiness that I find myself spending a lot of wasted time comforting myself with holiday treats. Add to that all of the gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free issues with my relatives, I feel so overwhelmed I don’t even know where to begin. The icing on the cake (love my food metaphors!) is there is always family conflict with passive-aggressive comments throughout the entire visit and meal. I can’t afford to have the event catered or the plane ticket for one out of town. What can I do? – Amy C.
Dear Amy C.,
First of all, I’m sending you a big hug and an invitation to stop and take a breath. Let me break it down for you in small steps.
- Practice Self-Compassion: Turn off the mental monitor that keeps playing your weight issues on a repeat cycle. Have compassion for yourself and make conscious decisions to start with smaller portions and keep healthier options on hand throughout the holiday. Don’t just tell yourself you will deal with your weight in a month, start small now and you will feel better every day.
- Create boundaries with your girls: Create a to-do list of your expectations for their contribution towards housework, meal prep and decorations. Attach rewards in the form of earning points or consequences related to computers, activities, etc. Clear expectations and boundaries are key. And a little healthy competition can go a long way.
- Set boundaries with food contribution: Sketch out a draft of the days’ meal including appetizers and desserts. Send out an email to your family and ask them to sign up for the side dish, appetizer or dessert they plan to bring. In a pleasant and persistent manner, encourage the people who have dietary issues to bring the “altered dishes” to ensure their needs are met. No one said you had to be a short-order cook or a nutritionist. You are hosting the event and providing a great deal of the dinner. There is no harm in setting clear expectations for assistance. It does not make you lazy or pushy, just organized and more relaxed.
- Stay off the dance floor: As for the passive-aggressive behaviors, they are not yours to own or manage. If it helps, create place setting name cards in anticipation of separating the worst offenders. The best part is you are in control of who sits near you!
It’s your house, it’s your holiday and it’s your emotional health. Take charge and set boundaries! I look forward to hearing how it goes.
I know I should love the holidays because it’s a beautiful time of year and there is much to be grateful for, but every year I find myself so lonely. I have good friends and a great family but I can’t seem to shake this feeling of being alone in what feels like a big happy world. Do you have any tips that can help me get out of this annual rut? – Trisha T.
Dear Trisha T.,
You are not alone, even in a crowd of strangers. And you are certainly not alone in having the holiday blues. It is very common for people to feel the pressure to be festive and joyful one month out of the year, especially when the holiday movie specials run every night on TV and the radio stations play non-stop holiday music well before Thanksgiving.
Here are a few questions for you, which you will see are disguised as answers!
- Do you go into the holiday season passively waiting for party invitations? Or do you plan special, yet casual gatherings with friends, coworkers, and a few girls from the gym or yoga class? Don’t try to cram them all into one event, but instead schedule casual, short get-togethers at a local coffee shop or inexpensive happy hour with clear expectations of either low-cost gift exchange or none at all. Don’t let the fear of rejection stop you, in most cases people are just waiting for someone else to take charge.
- Do you know your neighbors, especially the elderly ones? Is there someone close-by who could benefit from a ride to the grocery store of the local mall for their errands? Could a quick snow-removal effort from a car or sidewalk help out a single mother down the street?
- Do you enjoy baking holiday cookies and breads but don’t want them in your house for more than an hour? Again, who do you know that could use a plate of festive cookies for her Wiggles and Giggles infant play group but doesn’t have a minute between feedings and diapers to make it herself?
- Do you enjoy spending time with animals? If you don’t think you can handle a day volunteering at a pet adoption agency without taking a few residents home with you, how about walking the elderly gentlemen’s dog next door in the morning when it’s a little too cold for him to be out in the elements. If you know you won’t be traveling around the holidays you can let your community know you are available to check in on their pets and collect their mail while they are away. It will give you companionship and a schedule to keep which is important for combatting the all-day-in-my –pajamas mode you can easily fall into.
Do you see a pattern here? Being proactive about how you will spend your time and showing compassionate for others will help lift your mood and keep yourself pleasantly occupied during the holiday. You may even foster new relationships in the process.