I’m only going to one holiday party this year. It’s the holiday party I look forward to every year. The Fit By Design annual Christmas bash. My friend and fellow Warrior, Andrea, graciously opens up her house and as many Warriors as possible pile in and enjoy a good old knees up.
Like all good parties, there is plenty of booze and a variety of delicious appies that definitely don’t fall within the Canada food guide in the quantities that I could consume them. And every year, you can find me at the table, over eating the deliciousness, because.. Well, I’m a food addict and it’s what I do. Last year I remember the gluttony and a large quantity of booze. It was a lot of fun!
Not this year though. This year I get to be the one that chooses to do neither.
I’ve been seriously mulling it over for about 3 weeks trying to come up with a strategy that I could follow. Initially I decided “to hell with it, you only live once, go crazy and eat and drink whatever you want” but that raises a serious shitstorm of emotions for me and triggers many dangerous behaviours that usually continue into the next day or week. A rebellious “I can do what I want” attitude, meaning: I can indulge and not feel guilty because I’m making a conscious decision to indulge. It’s difficult place to be in because I can’t always claw my way out. Plus, Denise makes an awesome spinach dip… and Lisa is bringing homemade nanaimo bars.
Worst case scenario, I eat my face off at the party and reintroduce a bunch of bad food habits. Habits that I have worked on in therapy and counselling and in self reflection. Self medication with food has been an ongoing theme of my life. Numbing and mindless eating to fill up an unknown void. I could easily polish off a whole loaf of bread without caring too much about why I was eating. It starts with two slices of bread in the toaster. POP! Butter them up and eat them in about 6 bites. Barely tasting them before putting another two slices in whilst simultaneously stuffing a slice of buttered bread in my mouth. It’s mindless. It’s unnecessary. It’s the numbing, oddly comforting feeling of filling myself up with the most dense food possible. That’s the worst case scenario. That and the 20lbs I’d put on.
Of course I have slipped back into that state many times, which is why I am still not at the weight I would like to be.. But with each relapse my desire to continue and improve increases. I am always learning and for that I am grateful, but learning comes with a responsibility for your actions.
A potluck buffet offers that same opportunity for mindless grazing and eating without purpose. Pair that with other people unwittingly encouraging you to indulge and you are digging deeper than ever to find the strength to say no when temptation hits.
I went back and forth many times. Should I drink? Should I not drink? Maybe I could eat a few treats? Follow the 80/20 rule? But ultimately I knew my answer… I would have to not drink and only eat foods that I considered part of my current way of eating.
Then there is challenge #2. Aside from the mental anguish of wanting to eat and drink all the treats there are the people that want to encourage you, even though they may know you are struggling. You will always encounter a few sabotagers unintentionally giving you an excuse to derail.
“Just have one”
“It’s Christmas! Relax”
“You can get straight back on tomorrow.. Just allow yourself the night off”
And I get it. I do.
But, no thank you.
I am motivated more than I have been in a long time to keep going. God knows it’s been a rough ride this year and last. The missing piece of my puzzle this year has been consistency with my nutrition and now that I am feel in control again, why would I jeopardise that for one night of food and drink?
It used to be about not standing out, but now I don’t worry about that. I secretly used to like the sabotagers because they gave me an excuse to indulge even if it wasn’t in my best interest.The party never ended the same night for me as temptation hung around until the next day, week or month. Before I knew it I was back to spreading butter onto my 6th slice of toast looking for fulfilment in a Cobbs bag.
The strangest part of this is the judgement you can get for not joining in. It can get to you. I’m fortunate that I am mostly surrounded by people who understand - who know the triggers and help to encourage healthy choices. Some of you won’t be as lucky. I always remember a conversation I had with my brother who was drinking me under the table one evening. After a couple I said I’d had enough and he complained that I always used to be able to drink more than that and what was wrong with me? I later realised that he was projecting his guilt of heavy drinking on me. It was easier to make me feel like there was something wrong with me, than to accept there might be something wrong with his behaviour.
When you take your health into your hands you are always doing the right thing. Even if people get their noses out of joint or tease you because they think you are “better than them” (and yes, this does happen in your 30s!)
This year I have a game plan.
I am going to go to table and put my allocated amount of food on my plate (mainly Denise’s spinach dip and veggies) and walk away. I’ll drink my water in my favourite Starbucks glass mug and I will have a lot of fun with women that won’t think twice about doing what iis best for them - and supporting me in saying... Thanks, but no thanks.
Mother, creative strategist and health & happiness advocate. These are my personal ramblings..