There is an old Christmas song which I am sure many of you have never heard. It’s called “The Christmas Waltz” and the first verse goes like this:
(here’s a link to the song in case you want to sing along! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kr_zo8ivUCY)
Frosted window panes,
Candles gleaming inside,
Painted candy canes on the tree.
Santa’s on his way,
He’s filled his sleigh with things,
Things for you and for me.
Sounds pretty nice, doesn’t it? That’s the first verse…the second starts out with the line
“It’s that time of year”, and, for a lot of people I talk to, it seems the following lines should read
When I know I will fail.
Parties all around, call to me.
Food is all around,
It’s oh so hard, to try
Try to not have that cake.
What I want you to consider is why are we, as human beings, so quick to plan to fail rather than planning to succeed?
So many people I speak with seem to think it’s a foregone conclusion that they are going to “fail” when they have to attend work or family gatherings where food is going to be present, if not the center of the celebration. Why revert back to old habits instead of trying to put into practice some of the new skills you have learned as you work toward better health?
Number 1 – because it’s easier to go back to doing what you always did
Number 2 – because, as humans, we have a tendency toward what is called a natural negativity bias.
It’s hard to stay positive. It’s hard to practice discipline in difficult situations where we are tempted. It takes work to be successful.
It’s hard to go to a party where everyone is having fun and enjoying all the yummy treats while you try not to eat everything in sight.
Notice I say it’s HARD…but that does not mean it is IMPOSSIBLE.
Have confidence in your ability to succeed where you might have succumbed to temptation in the past. Give yourself more credit for having worked hard to get where you are right now in your health journey. Even if you do have something that might side track your progress temporarily, be kind to yourself, give yourself the same grace you would someone else in your shoes, and move forward.
One of the interesting things I learned at Obesity was about the habits of people who are successful maintaining weight loss (because, as we all know, this is when things tend to get tough for people). One of the key habits as developing a greater sense of self restraint. Not looking for immediate or instant gratification. These people have learned to align their behaviours with what they say they value in life. For example, I value being able to explore the outdoors. I love to hike, bike, paddle and run to see places that I’ve never seen before. I can’t do this if I am unwell, if my joints hurt or if I have not worked to maintain a certain level of fitness. This is but one thing I value which guides my behaviour…that might include skipping dessert when everyone else is eating (but, not always…I sometimes give in too!). It means I get up in the morning and I get in a workout even on days when I certainly don’t feel like doing it or I know it’s not going to be an epic workout…some days are mediocre at best but a mediocre something is better than nothing!
So, what do I want you to spend some time thinking about?
What do I value?
How willing am I to engage in behaviours that align with my values, despite having to endure a certain amount of discomfort?
Am I willing to learn to live with being uncomfortable some of the time to reach a goal I have set for myself?
(This is the underlying theme of something called acceptance based therapy. We touched on this in a few sessions during our recent conference so I am currently working on an outline for another lesson for the website on this very interesting topic.)
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We wish you the best for this holiday season and success as you continue you journey to better health in 2023!