I went to three Christmas parties last weekend. At each one, I ate a lot of cheese, drank a lot of alcohol and binged on cookies and sweets. It was wonderful. Even now, as I write this at 6:30 in the morning, I am eating a cookie from the cookie exchange party. One of my greatest pleasures in life is eating a cookie with my coffee first thing in the morning, and I’m not ashamed to say that I will probably do this every morning until the new year.
I used to worry about myself over the holidays. I eat fairly well most of the time, so I feel the addition of an average of 5 cookies to my daily diet as well as an increase in drinking alcohol and consuming mounds of cheese trays and other rich, holiday-only foods. Even now, I feel a little layer forming around my mid-section. I’m still working out regularly, but with the colder weather and the coming and going of viruses, even that is not at the level it needs to be to compensate for my increase in calories. But still, I’m not worried about it.
You see, fitness is not an issue for me. I don't worry about gaining weight or getting weak. I don't question if I will motivate to work out and be active. I know I will do it. I value it too much and the benefits are so important to me that I know I won't let myself get lazy. In a pleasant way, I am addicted to it. If a few days go by without a workout, I get grumpy. And even if life gets crazy and a week goes by and I haven't been as active as I'd like to be (or if I’ve been eating and drinking with abandon), I don't worry about the slippery slope effect. I trust myself to get back to business.
This wasn't always the case. I didn't come out of the womb lifting weights and wearing a black belt. I was an active child and our family's move to Colorado when I was 8 certainly helped set the stage for a lifetime of being a doer. However, in college, I was prone to false starts and the New Year's Resolution gang that crowded the campus gym for a few weeks. I would ride cycles of motivation and slack, dreading and yet somehow knowing that I would succumb to fitness failure. When the inevitable valley came, I'd ride it out until I had the next motivator...upcoming swimsuit season or the new year or whatever. It was a frustrating way to live...wanting to be fit but not trusting myself to follow through.
Somewhere in my twenties, fitness became not just a nice idea to aspire to but a full-fledged priority. It helped that I married an active guy and that we motivated each other, meeting to mountain bike after work and signing up for triathlons and adventure races. We had kids and consistency became harder, but if anything, parenthood motivated us more. We refused to fall into the trap we were often warned about…”Oh, you’re in shape now, but just wait until you have kids.” Likewise, I stopped worrying that I would hit a certain age and my metabolism would slow down and exercise would be futile. 30 came and 40, too, and honestly, I’m in better shape now than when I was 20.
Staying fit isn’t easy, but because it’s the lifestyle I’ve chosen, it isn’t difficult either. I thrive on it and I know I will always prioritize it.
The holiday season is tough. It’s busy and often stressful, and temptations are everywhere. Between baking cookies, attending elaborate parties and eating large meals, it’s hard to stay on track. If you live in a place that has actual winter, you might find it harder to work out and you might just lack the time to do so with the demands of shopping and year end work goals and increased activities and the kids at home.
I don’t encourage the gluttony I described that was my weekend. Not everyone can jump off the track and back on again. My point is that I have spent years developing trust in myself. It has taken decades of proving to myself that when push comes to shove, I will get it done. And if you follow my blog, you know that while I have my health and fitness pretty nailed down, I struggle in other areas. So I understand that my reality is not true for everyone.
But here’s the thing, anyone can develop that inner trust. You can cultivate a lifestyle that supports your wellness. You can develop habits and thought patterns that set you up for success. Yes, it will be difficult in the beginning. Anything worth doing has its challenges, but it won’t always be a struggle. Eventually, you will get to a place where your priorities will change, your lifestyle will shift, and your actions will be in alignment with your intentions and you will trust that you can keep it up.
Christine and I created the Empower! Program for this very reason. We want to support adults and tween girls in creating an intentional lifestyle. We know it isn’t just about working out. We also know you can’t just snap your fingers and think in a way that will encourage healthy habits. We know that it is in the connection of the mind and body, the pairing of mental intention with physical habits that true and sustainable change is made. Our program isn’t about losing weight or looking a certain way, and it goes well beyond fitness. It is about developing habits that reflect your authentic self and encourage action and accountability in all areas of your life.
I’m looking forward to the program personally because i know it will help me start my year with goals and the motivation to achieve them. 2020...a new decade...what will you do with it?