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Don't Wait For January

A hearty greeting to you from my hometown! I finally got back to Boston after almost a year of being away. It's so good to be here, even though it's a short visit at the moment. I love my traveling and I also feel so good to be back in totally familiar territory.

Since it's November and both Thanksgiving and Christmas reminders are up everywhere (for the last several weeks!), I thought I'd address a little misunderstanding many of us have. For some reason, we have come to believe that paying attention to what we eat and drink and exercising is "NO fun"! Even worse, that it could actually derail our festive celebrations! Oh, my darling, who fed us that lie?!? I have a sneaking suspicion it's all the BIG companies that profit from holiday over-indulgence. I wouldn't be surprised if some of the weight loss companies had a hand in it, too!

Now, let there be no mistake ... I love a good party as much as anyone and I know how to be festive. I've got my share of "ugly" Christmas sweaters (they're actually kinda' cute), pumpkin and other Thanksgiving headwear, and even cheery mugs with candy canes, angels, and snow on them. I've been known to make and serve up interesting, intricate recipes that only make an appearance in November or December. Everywhere we go everything around us screams (which is part of the problem) It's the most wonderful time of the year , yet how many of you "dread" this season? And do you know why? In large part it's sensory overload.

Our whole body is under attack. Visually we don't know where to look there's so many decorations vying for our attention. Scents fill the air that are rarely around any other time of the year. There's music and bells assaulting our ears and our brains are swirling with things to do and gifts to buy that stretch the budget. Not to mention all the cookies, cakes, candies and cocktails that are only sold or offered for a limited time. The message is clear -- we have to have them NOW. How do we feel with all this overconsumption? Often yucky! And we are encouraged to let go of all our virtuous, boring habits because there will be plenty of time to "punish" ourselves in January. That's a lot of pressure on the first month of the year (and on you)!

What can we do? Embrace mindfulness! As a Mindful Maven (someone who has deep knowledge and understanding), I fully understand what you're up against as well as how to reduce your potential risk of going completely off the rails. If we give up and cave in to all the temptations around us because that's what always happens, we are stuck in the past. If we've decided to say f*#k it until January, we're jumping into the future. We only truly live in the present. Let's make the most of it. Here are my suggestions:

  • Get out your calendar and figure out how you want to schedule in your holiday priorities. (This is not about prioritizing your schedule -- get the difference? Thanks, Stephen Covey!) You might have to say "no" to some invitations. That's ok - "No" or "No, thank you" is a complete sentence.

  • Make a list of some of those "special" foods and drinks that you really want to enjoy and that you look forward to once a year. You can enjoy it in the moment, but trying to eat enough to last until next year will only have you suffering the consequences.

  • Celebrate with a glass of your favorite adult beverage. Try to remember what it feels like the next day when you've had three or four and savor one or two.

  • Pay attention to that special treat as you're eating it. After about three bites, our taste buds get less sensitive and our enjoyment wanes -- that's the time to stop.

  • Breathe! When we get stressed and feel rushed, our breathing becomes shallow and less effective. Remembering to take in a good dose of oxygen has a calming effect. Best thing about that is that we can do it anytime.

  • Go for a walk. You can make this activity a chance to go see decorations or deliver gifts to neighbors or simply some necessary "chill" time (pun intended for folks living in certain snowy climates).

These are just a few things to try. What other ways can you think of to practice self-care? You'll feel so much better and you'll be present for all the merriment and cheer, you won't feel like you "blew" it, and you'll look forward to January. Be care-full! Are you worried about the holidays? Can that be a tough time for you? Do you still feel like you're getting over COVID, even if you never actually got the virus? I am a good listener and I'm expanding my coaching practice. Contact me and we'll set up a complementary gab fest, or pass this info along to someone you think could use my help. You'll be glad you did.

Happy Healthy Habit Hump Day,


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About the Author




Barbara L Cummings, MS, RN

is a sassy Queen-ager whose mission is to co-create a happier, healthier life with and for others.

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