Around this time last year I remember reading an article about weight gain around Christmas and how to avoid it. The article included a diagram outlining in a very mathematical sense how this could be done; eat this much (or little) here to reduce overall calorie intake here - numbers, as if we are computers or robots and food is as simple as numerical inputs.
At the time this caused me a lot of anxiety. Surely if I didn't follow the ‘plan’ then weight gain would be inevitable. And so I restricted my intake and with it my enjoyment of Christmas. Not just because I ate less and was tired and hungry, but because trying to be present when your brain is whirling about with numbers is pretty challenging, and because the self hate surrounding the whole thing - the reason for the plan itself and the challenge of sticking to it - was so huge.
But here’s what I have learnt over the past year and the words I want you to read this Christmas:
1. Life is about so much more than calories, weight gain and numbers - if a few extra pounds is what stands between you and your happiest self is it something you would be willing to compromise? Because I don't know about you, but I want to be able to tell my Grandkids about my greatest adventures, not about how visible my abs were, or how excellently I stuck with macros.
2. I have found that the less I count, obsess and think about food the more healthy my relationship is with it. It is actually in trying to control it that my attitude and actions become more negative. Studies actually show that when you restrict you are so much more likely to focus on food, to become preoccupied with it until it becomes more important than everything else*. And let's be honest, ten years from now if you are not where you want to be health wise you are not going to single it down to those 2 extra mince pies you ate on Christmas Day 2017.
Ultimately let your body be shaped by living a life that nourishes you in all senses. Not by numbers or restriction and all the negative effects leading such a life can have.
Right now, before I make any decision I ask myself this: ‘will it nourish me, truly?’. And deep down if the answer is no I will alter my actions accordingly. Choose, this year to do the same. Act from kindness for yourself always. Don’t allow hunger, or the desire for a different body or anything like that to hold you back. Trust me when I say living is worth it.
*The Starvation Study - super interesting take a look.