Navigating the Holidays
Two Thanksgivings ago, I ended the holiday with crunches and planks on my bedroom floor, trying to be silent so my family and our company wouldn’t notice. Earlier in the night, I did digestive yoga, urging my body to feel less stuffed. Before that, I crammed my body with as much food as possible. I ate so much so quickly that I could not even tell you what I ate and what I liked or disliked. And that morning, I had run for an hour as well as skipped breakfast, convinced I couldn’t eat if I was going to have Thanksgiving dinner.
My first Thanksgiving with an eating disorder was absolutely terrifying, especially because I didn’t know how to talk to anyone about how I was feeling. I thought people would call me crazy, telling me “Oh, you’re so thin,” or “It’s one meal, Olivia.” The holidays are stressful enough- between travelling, family, and tons of food/cooking, my day to day routine was already thrown off and I didn’t want to add more stress by feeling guilty for my emotions. Instead, I kept them to myself and crept away to exercise upstairs while everyone else enjoyed spending time together.
Two years later, my Thanksgiving is very different. My dad and I crafted a delicious menu that showcases both the traditional holiday dishes, as well as new takes on old classics. My dad is making everything from Clementine Turkey and Sweet Potato Eggplant Gravy, to Popovers with Strawberry Butter and Sourdough Stuffing with Sausages and Kale. I’m making Pumpkin Apple Soup, Delicata Squash with Pomegranates and Cous Cous, a Kale Salad, a Sweet Potato Pumpkin Pie, and Baked Apples stuffed with hazelnuts, dark chocolate, and topped with Chai Nice Cream. My dad and I love experimenting with new recipes and I am really looking forward to this menu! I chose the recipes because they intrigue me- not because they are “healthy,” but because of their vibrant, fresh flavors.
As for exercise, I won’t be up late on Thursday doing hundreds of crunches. I will allow myself to enjoy the time with our company, only saying goodnight once I’m tired and ready to sleep! I am going to workout on Thanksgiving and maybe even the day after- not because I have guilt over the food I will be eating (No “Turkey Burner” for me- a name that suggests we need to work off all the food we ate the night before, as if we should feel guilty), but because I love the fresh air and I love being active!
Thanksgiving puts so much pressure on us to eat until we are stuffed. If you are enjoying the meal, then yeah, you shouldn’t feel guilty about how much you are eating! Thanksgiving is one day out of the year. But, you also shouldn’t feel obligated to stuff yourself (I mean, Thanksgiving leftovers are the all time best, after all). Do what is best for you. Listen to your body, which includes both your stomach and soul.
This Thanksgiving, I am extremely grateful for my health and the progress I have made over the past few years. My mindset towards health, food, wellness, and fitness is becoming more and more balanced every day. That being said, I am just as grateful for the days where I don’t feel okay. These days remind me that I have room to grow and improve, but also show me how much progress I’ve made over the years.
What are you grateful for this year? How do you navigate the holidays while remaining positive?