We all know that inevitable panic you feel when you come home for the holidays and your body just isn’t where you wanted it to be. You’ve been feeling great but after three days home, you’re bloated and your living room couch has already begun to form around you. Whenever there is a long gap in time between seeing people in person (whether it is family or reconnecting with high school friends), the first thing people seem to comment on is bodies.
That is the reality of how we socialize in this world. We see differences, we see imperfection, we comment on it. I decided to throw together a little "survival guide" of sorts to help you navigate keeping your mind, body, and emotions balanced during the holidays. Here is how I stay sane during my 5 weeks at home.
Every single time I come home, the first thing my dad comments on is my weight. Whether it’s “you gained weight” or “you lost a lot of weight”, the comments are inevitable and sometimes I prepare myself with responses before I even walk in the door. This week he said, “You look hungry”… still not sure how to take that one. I’ve learned, after many fights throughout the years, that my dad doesn’t mean this in a malicious way, however, he is naïve as to just how deeply words like these affect body consciousness.
It’s not just comments from family that you have to navigate. Reconnect with high school friends and watch the drama really begin. You can’t miss the whispers at the bar about the girl that goes to X Big 10 School and clearly enjoyed herself this semester, or the boy whose beer gut is looking a little bit more swollen than it did when he left in August. Even the girl standing in the corner who clearly has lost copious amounts of weight, in such a short time, isn’t safe from judgment. We have normalized this culture of noticing people’s appearance and feeling entitled to comment on them with our friends.
But what are we gaining here? Does it make you feel better about yourself to mention something bad about someone else’s appearance? We all get caught in this slippery slope of talking badly about ourselves and that behavior sometimes results in us projecting our biggest insecurities onto other people. What we have to realize is that commenting on other people’s appearances doesn’t change our own. Gossiping with your friend about Suzie’s weight gain doesn’t make you skinnier nor does it enhance your life at all. I don’t know about you, but after having a chat with someone about another person’s weight gain I only begin feeling more self-conscious. Questions and anxieties end up flooding my brain. Can people tell I’ve gained weight? Why haven’t people commented on how much weight I’ve lost in the past month?
This is a tough cycle to remove yourself from and it is inevitable at some point that you may find yourself joining in the chatter. Breathe; this doesn’t make you a bad person. But when you have a minute, take a step back and reflect on what you are gaining from engaging in this type behavior.
My solution. Redirect the conversation. If your family member makes a comment, quickly brush it off and respond with something happening in the news… Why yes I gained weight, aunt Debby, and did you also notice that Cardinal Bernard Law died yesterday? Finally.
Netflix, Chill, AND Sweat
By the end of the semester, it is so nice to come back to your family home and unload. But, it is no shock that sometimes we end up taking advantage of the time off and becoming solid couch potatoes.
I am all for bingeing on a new series you have been eyeing or multiple movie nights with friends and family. However, it is so important to find the balance between being healthy and getting bed sores. Make sure you are making time to sweat over break and keeping your body healthy and happy.
My solution. Take long walks and reconnect with friends. Sign up for a yoga class and practice mindfulness with your mom. Get a bunch of friends to sweat it out at a spin class then go grab smoothies. This way you are social, you keep your body happy AND there are hours left in the day where you can run home and let Netflix know that yes, you are still watching.
Eat The Food
Let’s face it, even if you are good at cooking for yourself, there is no doubt there is something so much better about the food we get over break. My mom and stepmom always cook the meals they knew I had been missing or make reservations at my local favorites in order to celebrate everyone being home. Sometimes (okay oftentimes) I find myself taking advantage of that and losing all semblance of willpower.
Holiday cookies, saying yes to dessert for every meal and the extra scoop of mashed potatoes start to weigh heavily (literally and figuratively). Suddenly, your high school friends start hitting you up and for some reason, every single meeting surrounds a damn meal. I find myself scheduling my days around the meals I am eating and, quickly, working out becomes less of a priority. Then, before I know it, I start feeling sluggish and bloated and the negative voice comes back into my head, killing my confidence and beating me up.
My solution. Again, find the freaking balance. The reality of my life is that I have an unhealthy love of all things buttery and salty. So, when I’m home and my mom serves up the danks, I happily indulge when I want to and then make it a priority to hit the gym later. If I know my mom is cooking my favorite meal that evening, I make sure to keep it light during the day. Don’t hate yourself for enjoying. Just make sure to listen to your body. I usually know when to admit defeat based on the state of my stomach and when the pain is beginning.
The holidays are a time for happiness and indulging. Don’t beat yourself up for enjoying all of the things that home has to offer! Just know when to say no and how to stabilize your days in order to keep you at your best. Find the balance between releasing endorphins to keep your body and mind happy, bingeing your favorite shows to take a load off and enjoying mama’s apple pie.
From all of us here at REVLY, Happy Holidays!