One of the things I loved most about the holidays growing up was the sweets, treats, and cheese ball type things people would bring over. My mother was an avid baker and made every single kind of Christmas cookie you could imagine.
We’d go to parties and everyone wanted her to bring a huge plate of something sweet. Neighbors would come over in hopes of grabbing loaves of pumpkin bread and oversized molasses cookies. We’d bring a plate of goodies in for our teachers on the last day of school before holiday break and the happiness it brought me (and my teachers) is still etched in my brain.
I never (not even once) remember feeling like these things were something I “shouldn’t” eat – my parents gave us free rein during the holidays, and my siblings and I took it.
Then when I turned 12, I started picking up on things like how to get in shape for summer, how to shed those holiday pounds, and how to dress to disguise the extra weight you put on over the holidays.
I went from enjoying these treats to feeling like they were bad because they would make me gain weight. And the message was, even if it was a mere five to ten pounds you’d packed on over the holidays, you better shed that fast or you’d be a miserable cow.
This thing we do – the calling out of women for gaining weight and the need for them to snap back – is rampant. And horrible.
We hear about it after we have a baby. We are told we need to eat something healthy before a party lest we overdo it on the meat and cheese platter while visiting with friends and family.
We are told to drink water to keep us full. To count our calories, our macros, and to stay on track so things don’t get out of control.
Diet culture has us afraid before Halloween even starts that we are going to be worthless if we gain weight over the holidays.
Like most normal Americans, I gain weight every year around the holidays — and I just don’t freaking care any longer. I refuse to have society wagging a finger at me and feeling like I have to stay on track every second of every day.
If it wasn’t talked about so much, guess what? We wouldn’t think about it so much.
In fact, I’d rather pack on a few and give my boyfriend more to grab onto than to deny myself some of my favorite, most comforting foods that my friends and family make.
I’ve thrown away my scale and it was the best decision I could have ever made.
I realize this isn’t the answer for everyone; some need to be able to see evidence and like weighing themselves. However, may I suggest if you struggle this time of year and beat yourself up about gaining weight over the holidays, give your scale a break.
If friends or family members make comments about what you put in your mouth this time of year, don’t get together with them. No one needs to be around the food police, especially if it makes you feel like crap.
If you see a magazine, online ad, or social media account that makes you feel less-than, or talks about how to shed those holiday pounds, don’t even give it a second thought.
Don’t buy it, don’t click on it, unfollow.
Instead of telling yourself you’re going to go on a diet, or you’re going to make a huge lifestyle change to lose weight (this has never worked for me), focus on nourishing your body and making choices that make you feel good all year long — and that means indulging once in a while.
This is the internal message that diet culture wants us to have: the holidays are over and now I need to punish myself for enjoying myself. How twisted is that?
I’m not doing it any longer, and neither should you.
If losing weight makes you feel great, that is great. But the emphasis we put on gaining weight, and the importance of a slim (and often unrealistic) body is out of control.
The scale doesn’t determine our worth. Until we realize that and stop listening to the gaslighting that surrounds the holiday weight, things aren’t going to change for us.
And if you ask me, things need to change. Like, yesterday.
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