Weight fluctuation throughout the year is something that happens to everyone. My body is constantly changing from week to week depending on how stressed I am, my diet, my emotions and what time of the month it is. I never get to bogged down in the changes because I know that next time I look in the mirror it is sure to be different.
There is something about this time of the year, however, that tends to make some people fear the fluctuation. The reality is that the fluctuation I get at Christmas is really no different to the fluctuation I get during exams but there is just so much more emphasis put on gaining weight in the holiday season.
The advice on how to “prevent holiday weight gain” and the inevitable articles to be released in the coming weeks to lose the holiday weight in “just two weeks” makes me deeply sad. I have spent the last few weeks rejoicing in the love and celebration of Christmas but I feel the need to address the guilt that is often associated with this time of the year.
“Advice on preventing holiday weight gain has to stop. You may not be able to prevent weight gain over the holidays and that is okay! Fluctuations are not a sign of ‘doing something wrong’. They are a sign that you are human.” – Lisa Rutledge.
Now I by no means have a “perfect” diet. To be honest I don’t think that actually exists. I have learnt to eat intuitively. More so than ever, I have actually learned how to listen to my body and have been closely connected by what it wants and needs. Since my surprise trip to hospital I have had to make some fairly significant changes to my diet. I have had to eliminate nuts (my food true love), mammalian milk (except cow’s milk) and mushrooms. During this time, I have noticed changes in my body and the way that it feels. I fear I may actually be allergic to something in one of those families because I am so much less bloated than I was when I was eating them. I do have a sensitive tummy and to feel seriously bloated only once or twice a week has been a massive improvement.
Unfortunately, cutting foods out for me is definitely a trigger for food obsession. I have had to be extremely conscious of it in the weeks leading up to Christmas. I found myself with some returning dark thoughts last week and I knew that I would have to combat them before Christmas if I was going to enjoy the holiday period. It is very easy to preach and say that I am always balanced and feel amazing in my body but that is far from the truth. The difference this time is that I am cutting food groups out for allergy not for weight loss.
Weight loss has been an outcome of a few of these dietary restrictions. People have commented on my body and I have really just tried so hard to ignore it. Not because I am ungrateful for the compliment but because I know that my worth goes far beyond my weight. To be honest I think cutting out those foods is only a small component of the weight loss. I need to also take into consideration that university has finished for the year. I am so much less stressed, sleeping in and spending so much time surrounded by people rather than my text books.
Last week I went to buy a new pair of bathers for summer. Usually this would scare me so much. This time around, I went in with a different attitude. I just wanted it to be a pretty colour and it needed to be supportive so I could swim in the ocean without losing my bikini top (which has happened a time or 20). Within five minutes I had picked my pair, tried it on and left the dressing room. I didn’t fixate on every part of my body and how it looked in it. This was a positive starting point.
Food is a massive part of our Christmas tradition. It isn’t something to be feared or resented. The festivities all officially begin tonight with a dinner at my boyfriend’s nonna and nonno’s house. I am so excited for my first Christmas Eve with them. They will be followed by Christmas lunch at my house (nonna has made me a special lasagne without cheese so I can enjoy too) and dinner at boyfriend’s nonna and nonno’s house. The food coma is going to be a given, but how often do we all get to celebrate like this! Those bathers i got last week aren't going to look any different on me after Christmas as they did before. Any changes i see will simply all be in my head. The mind is powerful. We can see things that aren't actually there sometimes. One week in the year of a bit more indulgence is a blessing not a curse.
Food is so much more than what we are eating. It is the preparation that goes into it. It is the feeling you get when you taste it. It is the people you are surrounded by when you get to eat it.
This week I look most forward to the conversation, the laughter and the joy we will all share by simply being together. I hope that this Christmas we can focus on the memories to be made and ignore the posts on Instagram about “how to fill your plate and not gain weight.” Just enjoy the time with your family and friends and eat with joy and appreciation that you are alive and well at this incredible time of the year.
I wish everyone a very Merry Christmas. I hope yours is spent with the people you love, that it inspires you and fills your heart with love.
“Christmas waves a magic wand over this world, and behold, everything is softer and more beautiful.” – Norman Vincent Peale.