Which brings us to another issue of unrealistic expectations at holiday times…rows of December magazine covers scream out promises of holiday weight loss strategies, leading up to the typical January headlines of regrets and resolutions. For those of us who work with people struggling with various eating disorders and body image issues, headlines such as “So You Ate a Cupcake? Fast Moves to Burn it Off!” (Dec. Cosmo) are disconcerting. First, the focus on exercise for the specific purpose of burning off a cupcake sounds a lot like the goal of “getting rid of” food often stated by women dealing with dysfunctional eating or obsessive exercise. Second, it’s promoting a flawed, quick-fix approach to weight management.
Adopting a healthy lifestyle, including good nutrition, appropriate exercise and many other dimensions of wellness, is the best way to achieve and maintain a healthy weight. If you expect yourself to dramatically change your body during a few weeks of the year, you are unlikely to achieve that unrealistic goal. This is especially true during the holiday season, when you may be especially busy and surrounded by Christmas cookies. So, lighten up on your expectations of yourself. If you’re motivated to try more healthy lifestyle choices, great. But be proud of each little achievement, and don’t let yourself feel bad because you (like almost everyone else) cannot possibly morph into a supermodel by December.
Consider this as a holiday gift to yourself: Self-acceptance, self-respect and reasonable expectations throughout the year. Happy Holidays.
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