When was the last time you beat yourself up for “cheating” on your diet or for missing a workout?
Athletes are typically very determined, passionate, focused and hard working and when put into certain life situations, athletes can be very on or off. Either choices are a success or a failed attempt.
Because of this natural tendency to want to be "on" all the time, it’s understandable that many athletes feel a loss of control around the holiday season as it relates to succeeding with healthy eating and consistent exercising.
With 365 days in a year, there’s no reason to be extreme with your dietary and exercise habits around the holiday season. But at the same time, you can maintain great health and wellness over the holidays with a little shift in your thinking.
All you need is a little reframing to help shift your mind out of negative thinking.
According to Molly Kellogg, RD, LCSW, and author of Counseling Tips for Nutrition Therapists, “Reframing a problem involves placing it in a different context (or frame) and thereby changing its meaning. Often, this means taking something seen as bad (problem) and shifting either its content or its context so it can be seen as useful rather than bad. The new perspective leads either to acceptance or to creativity about what to do differently.”
For example, instead of saying “I can never control myself around sweets during the holidays” say, “I feel so lucky that so many people care about me and want to bake me cookies for the holidays.” Or, instead of saying, “I have so much to do, I can't even find time to exercise” say to yourself, “I’m thankful to have a family to care for and I deserve to take care of myself so I can be a better parent for my family.”
Holidays present a wonderful opportunity to enjoy different foods you likely would not consume on a daily basis and to change up your routine training regime. This may feel like an uncomfortable and overwhelming time of the year due to all the changes in your eating patterns and exercise routine but bringing behaviors of extreme discipline and restriction will only make you feel more anxious about the holidays. Because your thought processes are creating beliefs and assumptions that this is an uncomfortable and overwhelming time of the year, it's important that you recognize that you are simply associating a negative thought to every situation out of your control.
Because the holidays are a time to share love and create memories with others, the most powerful thing you can do for your mind, body and soul is to stretch your boundaries when it comes to approaching specific situations.
I encourage you to step away from rigid thinking (all or nothing) and think about how you can successfully navigate your way through the holiday season with a healthy mind and body.
Instead of saying, “I hate how I feel when I eat so much bad food” say, “I am equipped with the necessary tools to indulge responsibly and to eat until I feel satisfied."
Without even realizing it, you have probably reframed countless situations in training to finish a workout or on race day, in order to cross the finish line. For example, instead of saying "I am so tired, I should give up now" you say "I may be tired but I can rest when I am done!".
In your ongoing quest to become a smarter, healthier and stronger athlete, consider the negative thought patterns that are keeping you from finding better balance in your life.
This is a great quote from Molly Kellogg you may want to keep in mind as we approach the holiday season.
"It takes courage to demand time for yourself. At first glance, it may seem to be the ultimate in selfishness, a real slap in the face to those who love and depend on you. It's not. It means you care enough to want to see the best in yourself and give only the best to others."