My husband and I just got back from Punta Cana. Simply put, it was paradise.
For most of the trip, we were lazy bums – we slept late, we laid on the beach, we relaxed by the pool. We moved only to get something to eat or drink. The last morning, however, I got up and watched the sun rise over the ocean.
Those who know me can confirm that it’s nothing short of a miracle that I woke up at 6:00am while on vacation. You know that one friend you have who just cannot get up in the morning, no matter what? Yep, that’s me.
Whether it’s getting up early, getting in some exercise, or just trying to stay present, there are many opportunities during the holidays for all of us to have little “miracles.” As I sat on the beach, several nuggets of wisdom came to me.
Hopefully, the tips below will help you navigate the rest of the year a little easier.
1. Take It One Day at a Time
Don’t let what happens one day dictate what happens the next. The first few days of our vacation, I failed to wake up early. I could easily have written off my goal of getting up early to watch the sunrise. I had to instead stay focused on the current 24 hour period.
“One day at a time” doesn’t mean you can’t think about tomorrow or the next day. It doesn’t mean you forget the past completely. You just don’t allow your mind to dwell there. If your thoughts stray to the future or the past, determine if there is an action you need to take. Is there something you need to do to plan for the future? Is there an amends you need to make? If there is not an action related to your thoughts, consciously bring your focus back to the present.
This holiday season, don’t let your mind trick you. Especially when it comes to eating and exercise, train your brain to stay in the moment. Instead of “I’ve messed up my diet today, I’ll start again tomorrow,” tell yourself “Every healthy choice matters.” Instead of “It’s too late in the week to start an exercise plan, I’ll try on Monday,” say “All I have is today, and today I choose to do something good for my body.”
2. Commit to the Smallest Possible Step
“Getting up to watch the sunrise” was WAY too much for me to handle. The activities involved in this Herculean feat – brushing my teeth, getting dressed, even just getting out of the bed – overwhelmed me. I had to break it down into much smaller steps. First, I committed that I would swing ONE of my legs over the side of the bed. After the first leg, my second leg became my sole objective. And so on.
No matter how silly it seems, break your holiday goal into teeny, tiny steps, and you will be much more successful. Split your forty five minute workout into three fifteen minute intervals. Break the hours left in the day into small, manageable chunks of time during which you will make healthy eating choices. If it’s 7:15 and you are tempted to eat something you shouldn’t, tell yourself you will not go to the dessert tray, or candy bowl, or kitchen counter, until 8:00. When 8:00 rolls around, chances are your craving will have subsided. There have been countless times I have just committed to something for FIVE minutes at a time. You’ll be surprised how often five minutes turns into longer when you release thinking about the bigger picture!
3. Let Go of the Guilt
I felt guilty every day I didn’t wake up early on our vacation. It just felt wrong to waste that many precious hours of the morning in such a beautiful place. I chose to let go of the guilt and stay positive because of my faith in God.
Guilt is a powerful emotion. It can take you prisoner if you let it. It feeds on itself. The guiltier you feel, the more bad choices you make. The more bad choices you make, the guiltier you feel, which in turn leads to more bad choices, etc., etc. The only way to break free from the cycle is to accept feelings of guilt as a normal part of life. We are all only human. We all make mistakes. A lot. And it’s okay. It’s why we need God. Once we realize that guilt isn’t a sign of failure, we can let it go.
If you’re overcome with guilt this holiday season, take comfort in the fact that you are not alone. The vast majority of people stumble over the holidays, especially when it comes to diet and exercise. Most people end up giving up on the entire season after a few mistakes.
Don’t give into this temptation! There is a better way. Make amends to yourself by continuing to try to make healthy choices. You can succeed even if you have slipped multiple times.
Above all else, turn to God. Ask for forgiveness and guidance. And then accept His grace – simply put, it’s paradise.
(Originally posted on The Sisterhood blog: http://tothemoonmom.com/3-strategies-to-keep-it-real-this-season/)