Holiday “HELLth” Anxiety

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 I’ve long loved the holiday season, but there was a time when it was the bane of my “perfect-body-goals” existence.  While the people around me were busy thinking of gifts, recipes, decorations, fancy dresses, ugly sweaters, movie marathons, friends, family and yule logs (ok, scratch that last one, nobody really thinks of those) I was busy thinking of nutrition facts, macro-nutrients, workouts, six-pack abs and body fat measurements.

I remember during my disordered eating years, the years spent cycling between restricting (dieting, cutting out certain food groups, intermittent fasting, skipping meals or eating faux foods) and binge eating (manically shoving my face while standing at the kitchen counter holding the entire bag/box/jar of ALL THE THINGS until they were empty – and I was sick) that November and December were always my most difficult months.

While at the time I felt extremely isolated – I now know that I wasn’t alone.  Tons of women, and increasingly men too, suffer from holiday “HELLth” anxiety.

In fact, maybe you’re experiencing this anxiety right now.

Maybe you are silently and repeatedly freaking out about the family meals you’ll eat wherein the home cooks won’t be reporting calorie content and your “fitness” app won’t know what to do.  Maybe you’re worried about the office parties you’ll attend, cocktails you’ll consume, workouts you’ll miss and travel that will require you to step outside of your meticulous body-control routine.  Or perhaps you’re dreading the inevitable conversations with {RUDE} presumptuous relatives about your weight or your plate, those thumbprint cookies you love but “shouldn’t” have lest they make you a rabid sugar-crazed monster or that little black dress you plan to fit into.  AND ON TOP OF IT ALL – you might be scrambling to perfect the acting skills you’ll need in order to hide your insecurity and panic from the joy-filled, “holly jolly” world around you.

Ugh.  The struggle is real.

It’s completely damaging and counter-productive, but it is real.

And thankfully, it’s also avoidable.

Friend, you don’t have to fall into the holiday “HELLth” anxiety trap this year.  You don’t have to go ballistic shunning the sugar laden, gluten-crusted, AMAZE-BALLS pumpkin pie your mom made.  Unless, of course, you actually have Celiac disease – in which case, go ballistic all you want and then call me, I have a pie crust recipe with your name on it. 

You don’t need to double your mileage or intensify your workouts.  And contrary to the recommendations of popular women’s magazines you don’t have to cut your daily caloric intake for the two weeks prior to a holiday dinner in order to EARN yourself the right to enjoy those mashed potatoes and gravy.  You don’t have to take only one bite of cream cheese iced spice cake, or guzzle water in lieu of egg nog.  You don’t need to plan your next diet. You don’t need to decline drinks with friends or cancel your plans to attend those food-filled parties for fear you’ll lose your willpower.  You don’t need to steam your vegetables.  And you absolutely DON’T need to take one single bit of slim down/shape up advice from the industries that are banking on your holiday insecurities to give them their year-end business.

So what DO you need in this season?

How about peace?

How about whole-person health?   You know, mind, body and spirit – rather than the commercialized idea of health as a lower number on the scale and a higher number of reps.

How about love, for yourself and others?  Compassion and kindness and tidings of comfort and joy, comfort and joy (I’m sorry – I couldn’t help myself).

How about goals that go beyond the physical?  Goals that take into account how you want to feel this season (and skinny isn’t a feeling), who you want to be, what you want to experience and who you want to experience it with.  Goals that beg the question: If you could forget about your food and body struggles for just seven weeks and instead focus all of that time and energy elsewhere – where would you put it?  What would you do with it? And what in the world is stopping you? 

I know I’ve asked a lot of questions and given very few solutions.   But, that’s because I don’t have the answers.


Only you know what you REALLY want the next fifty-ish days to be about.  Only you know what doors you need to close and which ones you need to open before the clock strikes midnight on December 31st.  Only you know the dreams in your heart – the ones that go so much deeper than the dimples of cellulite on your thighs (and everybody’s got ‘em).  Only you know your most sacred resolution, the one beyond dieting and deadlifting and finally convincing the scale that you’re beautiful.  Only you know the hidden hope that brings joy to your spirit and sets your soul on fire. 

This year… DO THAT.


Don’t do the media manipulated, appearance focused, perfection chasing, aesthetic accolades striving version of you.  DO THE REAL, UNADULTERATED, UNASHAMED, PURE, GORGEOUS, UNIQUE, INTRINSICALLY INSPIRED YOU.  Show up at family events and social gatherings.  Really show up – without the food scale and without the tasteless sugar-free cookie tray and fresh-squeezed green juice (if you like those things – own it, but if you feel that you HAVE TO like them for your health – squash it).  Show up without the gym bag or the meal plan or the militant jerk in your head screaming about all of your dieting fouls.  Show up and enjoy the people, the food and the romanticism of a time that goes by all too quickly.  

And please, whatever you do, don’t show up with holiday “HELLth” anxiety – she’s not on the guest list.

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