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Resetting Your Goals and Expectations for the Holiday Season

January came and went, and the spring flew by.

Sometimes it feels as though we barely enjoyed summer and if you live in areas that experience extreme cold, it may already feel like fall disappeared. That’s how it feels in Massachusetts.

Hoodie weather was about two weeks, give or take. The pellet stove has been on and off for weeks and will be on until March – it’s exciting and depressing.

In October I started encouraging clients to think about the holidays. I hate the idea of ignoring or skipping other fun holidays like Halloween to concentrate on Christmas and pretend that Thanksgiving doesn’t exist, but it’s important to think ahead for a few reasons.

The holidays are fun, but can be stressful. They’re happy and can be sad. They’re busy and somehow there’s never enough time. But mostly, they always seem to sneak up on us.

I don’t even want you to think of the new year yet – you’re just getting yourself worked up if you do that. Ideally, you should be thinking of how to make healthier choices throughout the year – that’s really what lifestyle change is about. But I get it – I know how fresh a new year is, how a new month can reignite you and a new week feels like an opportunity to “get it right” whatever that means for you.

Photo by Josh Hild on Unsplash

But for right now, I want you to think about your goals – the ones you’ve worked on this year. Maybe some fell off the list and others came aboard.

Write them down.

It can be one goal, it can be five – it doesn’t matter, write them down.

Are these the same as your goals from the fall or the summer?

If these are the same goals from the beginning of the year or even the summer, I don’t want you to get discouraged, but I want you to think about how realistic these goals are for you right now at this point in the year. Whether you’ve been successful or not in these goals, it’s appropriate from them to change during different times of your life and evaluating during different busy seasons is 100% appropriate.

I believe many try to hold themselves to unrealistic standards, which can sometimes lead to higher stress and missing out on experiences.

The holidays aren’t a time to be trying to execute a fat-loss diet, but instead focusing on overall healthy choices that support you all around. Honestly, this is something I believe in year-round too.

It’s also important to remember that being a healthy person doesn’t inherently mean you’re concerned about your size. Maybe you’re trying to move more, be confident in your choices, stand up for yourself more by setting boundaries. Health can include size, but it doesn’t have to – don’t let anyone make you feel like health must fit specific guidelines to count or matter.

So are your goals realistic for the holiday season and your life in these months?

Have you ever considered changing your goals during this time of the year to accommodate a shift in schedule?

If you had to categorize the goals you set at the beginning of the year, where do they fit: physical health, mental health, stress reduction and management, etc.?

Think about the rest of November and all of December.

Are there work events?

Holiday parties with friends or family?

What about birthdays?

Do you have to travel to family and friends?

Are you doing anything solo?

Make a calendar with all of these dates. You may also want to make a to-do list if there is cooking or baking or gifts involved – just something to plan ahead so it doesn’t come out of left field

Being organized – while challenging, might give you a visual to really understand how busy (or not busy) you actually are.

It’s never just one day or two days. For some cultures and religions, it may be a week or longer. If you struggle to manage your stress, it could feel like a whole month.

What do you actually want to accomplish this holiday season?

Do you want to continue to be active, but think working out five days a week is too much?

Try setting your workout or activity routine on a weekly basis and determine what days make the most sense – rule out days that you have too many commitments and believe working out would be more harmful than helpful.

Set a minimum and give yourself a chance to have bonus days, example: 3 days of workouts with a 4th bonus if able.

Focus on moving consistently throughout the day, implement stretching and yoga at home or home workouts.

Do you want to continue to prioritize your eating habits?

Think about what’s in your control.

If you go to a party at night, what else about that day is in your control?

If you have a work lunch – what’s in your control?

Never go into a meal starving no matter how “off-track” you believe you will be. Your body doesn’t just have fat loss and fat gain settings, although it’s how we think of our bodies. Our bodies also maintain – what’s so wrong about maintaining? Do you really think one day is inherently a problem? Is the restriction and mindset what encourages one day to become a week?

 Consider prioritizing foods you won’t be eating socially like leaner proteins, fruits and vegetables and drinking water.

Be active in your decision-making. If you want to eat a cookie, eat a cookie, but don’t guilt trip yourself for making that choice.

What about mental health goals?

Setting boundaries with yourself and with others to give yourself space to regroup and relax during the rush of the holidays is important so you don’t feel bombarded.

What does boundary setting look like?

Every day is a new opportunity to move forward. You get to choose if you do that or if you stand still or if you continue the cycle.

Give yourself a chance to live and experience the holidays, but don’t use them as an excuse to not take care of yourself at all.

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