“Concepts like self-acceptance and body neutrality are not without value. When you have spent your entire life at war with your body, these models offer a truce. But you can have more than a cease-fire. You can have radical self-love because you are already radical self-love.”

Sonya Renee Taylor, The Body Is Not an Apology: The Power of Radical Self-Love

Imagine a world where your goals no longer focus on the size of your body. Where acceptance of yourself isn’t determined by your weight. Wouldn’t it be liberating to be strong and free of worry about your size — to look at your body with a neutral mindset? I know that’s something I can get behind. I’m not saying it isn’t okay to have fitness goals to improve your health that may result in losing fat and gaining muscle. I’m suggesting focusing on your strength, and having a sense of enjoyment around exercise. This is especially important as the holidays approach.

The holidays are a time of abundance. We spend more time with loved ones — friends, family and partners. There are more parties to attend and more holiday events. Most gatherings and traditions at this time of year revolve around delectable foods, like pumpkin pie, roast turkey, ham, cranberry sauce, and Halloween candy. But instead of celebrating and enjoying our time, we beat ourselves up for enjoying these foods and become racked with guilt and remorse.

Instead of having a mindset of joy and feeling full of gratitude for more time to spend with loved ones, we punish ourselves by describing our behavior with words like gluttonous, indulging and binging. We become at war with ourselves. And the saddest part is that we do this because of the false messaging we’ve received that we should always aim to weigh less than we do.

A quick Google search for “how to let go of weight goals around the holidays” resulted in a list of articles advising how to lose weight over the holidays or how to avoid gaining it: “6 Women Who Actually Lost Weight Over the Holidays,” “Holiday weight loss tips: what you can eat and still lose weight.” Not one search result focused on stopping shaming behavior and focusing on loving who we are while enjoying the holidays.

I’d like for us to create a movement around accepting ourselves and listening to what our body needs. Let’s have a ceasefire of shaming and expectations around our food choices and the shapes of our bodies. If you want to eat the pumpkin pie, eat it, and do so without shaming yourself afterwards. I guarantee it will result in a sense of freedom and help you to create a practice of loving yourself unconditionally and irrelevant of your choice to enjoy a slice of holiday pie.

There are a few other ways we can mindfully enjoy the holiday season:

  1. Set an intention to practice self-compassion over your body and your food choices.
  2. Try to savor the foods you choose to enjoy.
  3. If you notice the negative self-talk, take a moment to breathe or meditate — try the amazing Sarah Blondin on Insight Timer.
  4. Practice self-care: keep coming to the gym, drinking lots of water, and trying to eat nutrient-dense food along with your treats.
  5. Take some time to do nothing. Have a Netflix day in your PJs, or go sit in a park with your favorite book. This is especially important as we will be spending more time with others over the coming weeks.

Remember to stop beating yourself up over what you eat, especially during a time that’s meant to be joyful. Take the advice of coach and RN Tiffany Thoen: “The holidays are meant to be a time of celebration, community, and savoring beautiful foods. It can also be a really challenging time. Rather than focusing on weight and struggling with food, we will enjoy the holidays much more if we focus on nourishing our mind, body and spirit so that we can be present, connect, and embrace the spirit of the season.”

Olivia Pennelle

Located in Portland, OR, Olivia Pennelle (Liv) is an experienced writer, journalist, and coach. She is the founder of the popular site Liv’s Recovery Kitchen, a site dedicated to helping people flourish in their recovery. Liv is passionate about challenging limiting mentalities and empowering others to direct their own lives, health, and recovery. You can find her articles across the web on podcasts and publications across the web, including Ravishly, The Fix, Recovery.org, Workit Health, and STAT News. Liv was recently featured in VICE.

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