Healthy and Happy Holidays—Part 2

In Saturday’s blog, I posed some of the questions to ask yourself in order to go from Halloween to New Year’s with balance, grace, and fulfillment. Today, I am going to share how I answered those questions and my plan to make January 2nd a day where I feel great–mind, body, and spirit.

Having a different experience over the holidays takes awareness, planning, and celebrating the smallest victories. Think about what your answers to these questions would be.

To gain awareness, I first have to look at my past experiences. What are those things that typically knock me for a loop?

My biggest challenges over the holidays include the extra temptation of all the treats that are around from Halloween to New Year’s, my perception of family expectations, and worse, my own expectations that everything has to be magical and perfect. This makes me pack too much into my to-do list and I get challenged when my priorities aren’t shared by others, which results in stress and feelings of resentment.

Now that I know what my biggest challenges are, I can look at what the holidays mean to me.

They mean unconditional love, recognizing and celebrating the magic in life, others, and myself. They mean having fun, relaxing, and laughing with friends and family. They mean being content and at peace.

When I compare what the holidays truly mean to me and my biggest challenges, what are the thoughts, feelings, and beliefs that come up?

Stress and unmet expectations—my own and others. Having to have everything be perfect—decorations, sending out cards, gifts, and food, etc. Not wanting to feel deprived. Wanting to feel loved. The feeling that there’s too much to do. The feeling that people won’t love me if I’m not perfect.

What are my internal values that I truly want to honor over the holidays?

My connection to my Higher Self. Love, for myself and others. Self-care, so I have the energetic capital to give to others. Being appreciative of myself, others, and all the blessings in my life.

How do I want to feel over the holidays?

Connected, balanced, happy, content, and loving.

How do I want to be on January 2nd, using the present tense?

I  feel energetic and in balance–body, mind, and spirit. I have maintained my weight and I feel strong and fit. My relationships feel good. I appreciate life more. I am eager and excited about this New Year.

Not that I’m clear on what it is that I want, I can start planning.

What do I have to do differently to get more of those feelings and to honor my core values?

  • Ensure that I take the time to meditate, exercise, and rest so that I maintain my connection to my Higher Self and have mental clarity and physical energy. I am having surgery over Christmas so my self-care will really need to be a priority.
  • Focus on the best qualities of everyone I love and forgive them for not being perfect. And forgive myself for not being perfect.
  • Release myself from the responsibility for anyone else’s happiness.
  • Prioritize my to-do list so that what I’m doing aligns with what I truly want.
  • Release the need to do everything myself and either ask for help, or let things go.
  • Focus on all the things I appreciate in my life.
  • Focus on all the reasons I want to start the New Year feeling great and choose foods that will support that. But also allow myself to have some treats so that I feel like I’m fully experiencing and enjoying the season.

What are the obstacles I’ll face and what do I need to do differently to work around them?

Time—So I’ll need to actually schedule those things that are a priority, like meditating, exercising, and some evenings where I just relax. I can focus on doing those things that really match up with my values. I can ask for help with decorating, shopping, and wrapping and shipping presents—and truly acknowledge and appreciate the help that I do get.

Expectations—Since I don’t have control over anyone else’s reactions, I can focus on my own. I can be authentic and loving. I can be fully present. I can acknowledge other’s feelings, and I may have to allow them to feel disappointment. I may have to allow myself to feel disappointment. I can forgive them—and myself—for not being perfect. I can make lists of all the things I love and appreciate about others so those things are clear in my mind when I see them. I can enjoy what is instead of how I think it should be.

Tempting foods and treats—Where I have control over the menu or am bringing something, I can provide healthy foods. I can eat before a party so I’m not as tempted. I can eat healthy foods for most meals and plan to have one meal a week where I allow myself to have treats. I can exercise my resistance muscle—and celebrate my success! I can forgive myself if I do give in and get back on track with healthy eating at my next meal. I can write down all the reasons I want to feel great on January 2nd, and I can read the list every day and carry it with me if I need a reminder of why I am choosing to eat healthy.

When and how are you going to do those things? (Be specific.)

  • Today, I will schedule time to meditate every day and exercise six days a week, and work the rest of my schedule around them.
  • I will schedule 15 minutes each day to write and read lists of appreciation. Tonight I will create my list of all the reasons I want to feel great come January 2nd and I will include reading that in my 15 minutes of appreciation. I will carry the list in my purse, in case I need to remind myself why I’m choosing to forgo a treat. Each week, I will plan some downtime in my schedule. I will make getting adequate rest a priority.
  • If I feel stressed or overwhelmed, I will take 15 minutes to meditate and/or ask for help. I can also let go of things that aren’t on my priority list.
  • Every week, I will create a healthy meal plan and based on parties and other activities, I can decide when I will have my treats.

Finally, it’s really important to keep myself motivated and inspired to stay on track, even when things get tough. How and when will I celebrate all the small things that I am doing to create a balanced and fulfilled holiday experience?

  • I will acknowledge and praise myself each time I meditate and workout. Even if I only get in 15 minutes, I will consider it a win.
  • Each time I face a temptation and choose to stick to my food plan, I will give myself praise. And as a bonus, when I get to January 2 and have maintained my weight and feel great, I will buy myself something I want.
  • When I take time out for rest and relaxation, I will honor the time and will make a point to do something that is truly relaxing.
  • I will celebrate my family and friends and share my appreciation for them. Each time I successfully release an expectation or respond in a more positive way than I would have in the past, I will acknowledge it during my time of appreciation by writing kudos to myself in my journal.

Right here and now, I make the commitment to do these things and to make this year’s holidays’ healthy and happy.

I encourage you to take the time to think about, plan for, and celebrate your journey from Halloween to New Year’s. How do you want to feel on January 2?

Together we can do it!

Healthy and Happy Holidays—Part 1

When I was a kid, the time between Halloween and New Year’s was magical. What could be more fun than everyone playing dress-up and strangers giving you a bucket-load of candy that you ate for weeks? Or having days off from school filled with delicious treats and sharing a feast with family and friends? Or having even more days off, more delicious treats, presents, and another fabulous feast?

I still love the holidays, but somewhere along the way they also became fraught with stress, unmet expectations, challenging family dynamics, loneliness, and bingeing that resulted in self-loathing. I would often start the New Year with a physical and emotional hangover that might last till spring.

This changed when I realized that I had control—not over other people, but of how I responded, what I put in my mouth, and what I did—and didn’t do. My reacting as a victim or with conflict truly was a choice.

Making different choices and having a different experience over the holidays takes awareness, planning, and celebrating the smallest victories.

To gain awareness, first look at your past experiences. What are the things that have sent you down a difficult road? Maybe it’s the extra temptation of all the treats that are around from Halloween to New Year’s? Maybe it’s the pressure and expectations of family that you can’t live up to? Maybe it’s your expectations that everything has to be magical and perfect—for yourself or for others? Maybe it’s a difficult relationship? Maybe it’s feeling alone, even when you are in a crowd? Maybe it’s the overwhelming to-do list that you don’t feel supported in getting done?

Whatever those things are that knock you for a loop, take a look within and ask yourself these questions. What do the holidays mean to you? What are the thoughts, feelings, and beliefs that come up for you? What values are you trying to honor? How do you want to feel?

Then you can start planning. What do you have to do differently to get more of those feelings and to honor your values? What are the obstacles you’ll face? What do you need to do differently to work around them? When and how are you going to do those things?

Finally, celebrate each tiny thing that you do that creates your balanced and fulfilled holiday experience. Do this by asking yourself what, how, and when you’ll celebrate—and then do it! And if you don’t respond as you planned, what do you need to do to pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and still move forward towards the person you want to be come January 2nd?

On Monday, I’ll share my answers to these questions and the plan I will use for creating healthy and happy holidays this year.

Together we can do it!

How True Is That?

One of the things that holds us back from creating the life of our dreams is accepting those limiting beliefs that we have picked up from others as truth. How likely are you to achieve something if you don’t even believe it’s possible?

If you’re feeling stuck in an area of your life, it can be helpful to look at the beliefs you’re holding and examine if they’re accurate or not.

For instance, how many of you have ever heard “You have to clean your plate because there are starving children somewhere in the world?”

Just about everyone, right? This is how our parents or grandparents often got us to eat—and to eat things we didn’t want to eat. Do you think that’s a limiting belief?

How true is it that your cleaning your plate is going to benefit any of those starving children?

Logically, it makes no sense that my overeating will help anyone else. In fact, this belief can actually be harmful. Cleaning your plate teaches you to disregard your body’s guidance that it’s had enough, and eating too much food is at the heart of being overweight, which has serious health consequences.

At the core of this belief is often a concern about wasting food. But the truth is extra food in your body is just as wasteful as putting it in the trash. You can either waste it, or you waist it.

A lot of times, seeing the flaws in your thinking is enough to help you move beyond it. But changing a long-standing belief can also impact underlying values.

For instance, it may be hard for you to let go of this belief because one of your values is helping others in need. What would be a more constructive action than cleaning your plate? Perhaps donating to charities that feed the poor?

Maybe your value around this belief is being sustainable. A more direct way to address that value might be to start a composting system, or to recycle.

Resistance to changing this belief could also be fear—perhaps fear that there’s not enough so you have to eat more than you need. What are some ways that you can focus on the abundance that you do have in your life?

If you want to create the life of your dreams, it’s worth looking at the inaccurate thinking and limiting beliefs you have going on. Letting go of beliefs that don’t serve you enables you to create new thoughts and beliefs that do.

Together we can do it!

Throw Away Your To-Do List

I woke up late this morning. It’s pretty clear to me that my body is letting me know that after about a month of going flat-out it’s time for some rest. This is time I plan to give myself—this weekend.

In the mean time, what do I do with this day that’s already off schedule?

Stick to Priorities

It is particularly important on days when things aren’t going as planned to let go of the things that aren’t a priority.

Think about what’s really important right now. You can do this by prioritizing what’s coming up in your schedule next, by making a list and ranking items in order of importance and urgency, or digging deeper and ranking things by your internal values so you can really tap into your inner motivation.

For me, I do a mix of all of these. My values include making my connection with my Higher Self my number one priority and maintaining my self-care so that I have the physical energy to make the most of my day.

So even though I had half my usual time, my first priorities were getting in a short meditation, and then doing a short workout afterwards. Was it the best meditation and workout I’ve ever had? No. Do I feel more centered and energized? You better believe it!

Having met my top priorities based on my personal values, now I can look at my to-do list. What really has to get done today? What are the things I would like to get to if I have the time and energy? What are the things I can reschedule? What are the things I just need to let go of?

Let’s just say that housework will not be at the top of my agenda today. Although my husband might argue it’s never at the top of my agenda!

Look for Opportunities

We are often so scheduled and planned in our lives that we don’t allow the Universe to lead us to the opportunities that might fulfill us at a deeper and more profound level, or truly move us forward to who we are and what we want. My schedule going kablooie is my signal to let go of control and look for meaningful encounters or experiences.

If you’re focused on your priorities and still get interrupted or side-tracked, throw away your to-do list. Do your best to go with the flow, keeping your eyes and mind open to the gifts that are coming your way.

Gifts don’t always have to be fun (in the moment) to be meaningful. Sometime the biggest gift is recognizing that the things we mark off on our to-do list do not equal our value as a person.

And even if your day is going as planned, look for the gifts that are coming your way.

Together we can do it!

Opps! I Did It Again!

I think I can safely say that it is never my intention to hurt others or make them uncomfortable. And yet I still do it.

Yesterday, a wonderful and supportive friend shared my Wellness Tip of the Day on her Facebook page. She has done this before and I have so appreciated it. Some of the comments she has received in the past have been what I perceived to be a little negative, which I actually respected because it gave me some insight into how a wide variety of people will react.

Fresh off my intense and wonderful coach-training weekend, I read some “negative” comments and I thought, “coaching opportunity!” forgetting that people have to actually want to be coached. They have to buy-in to the process.

So I jumped into the conversation, upsetting my friend who felt my comments were directed towards her, or worse were attacking her friends, and sending the others underground. So much for starting a dialog!

In the past, making a blunder like this would have made me feel horrible, unleashing my inner Gremlin to harangue me with all the reasons I suck. And interestingly, as I am writing this my little gator Gremlin is definitely trying to dominate my inner dialog.

But one of my foundation principles is that there are no mistakes and that everything is always working out for me—and you—even when it doesn’t look like it.

As much as I wish I could take back that hit of the return key that posted my comments to her page, I am also grateful for the lessons I have learned—or at least remembered in a more vivid way.

It’s not my job to coach everybody. Everyone is where they are and they have every right to be exactly where they are. Everyone’s interpretations are their interepretations. Challenging them is inappropriate and only makes them—and me!—feel bad. It really is better sometimes to shut up and listen.

I would like to thank my friend for giving me the opportunity to gain that clarity. While I would have done anything to spare her—and her friends—any discomfort, I hope very much that there was something of value in this for them, too. And I hereby solemnly swear that I will never jump into a Facebook discussion of something I have put out there ever again.

Next time you make a blunder, do your best to remind your Gremlin that learning is always valuable and that doing stupid things doesn’t make you a bad person. Then turn your focus to all the lessons and opportunities you can mine out of the situation. Sometimes you get the most out of those things that aren’t fun or comfortable.

Together we can do it!