The holidays hold value differently for everyone. There are two types of people in this world: those who love November 1st through January 1st, and those whom are terrified by it. I was once someone terrified by it for a plethora of reasons. If you are reading this, you are likely well aware of the fact that I am not only a recovering drunk and coke head, but also a recovering bulimic. The holidays have been a bit rough over the years for me and I am here to offer some insight for anyone who can relate. I am not trying to tell you how to live your life, I am just trying to tell you how to NOT live the one I did for so long.
If you are recovering from an eating disorder, an alcohol problem, or addiction in any facet, you probably fucking hate the holidays with every iota of hate you have in your heart. I know this, as I was recovering from all those things for A DECADE. Yes, I spent 10 salty years hating holidays because of my own personal issues I refused to deal with. I thought they were “silly” and “stupid”; this likely had to do with the tough girl vibe that I embarrassingly put out for so long. What a sad, sad way to live.
The holidays once meant booze, binging, and purging. I didn’t think of things like thankfulness, family, and generosity during November and December, but rather how fucked up I could get or how much I could eat. My ED was at its height from 18 to 22, and those were the years associated with binging and purging. Nothing about the holidays was “special” to me aside from getting to shove mass quantities of calories into my face. In fact, the only reason I was ever really excited to see my extended family members, was due to their impressive culinary abilities (this is not the case anymore Judy, Sudy, Steph, and everyone else on my mother’s side of the family who I know is reading this… I love you all dearly).
I was finally able to get my binging and purging under control in my early 20s, however it was replaced with severe clean eating orthorexia. I then masked that issue with substances. All of the substances. The anxiety and fear I had put on food completely prevented me from enjoying it, let alone even eating it. So, I took to alcohol and cocaine in times of hunger and confusion (aka Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years). I was so caught up in tracking my macros and having abs, that I avoided the holidays with my own family just to stay away from the possibility over eating. I coped with this behavior by drinking and using. Vicious cycle. Le sigh.
By the time I was 25, my holidays officially meant loneliness, as I alienated myself in hopes to “beat” the holiday weight gain that 99% of people experience and are completely ok with. Welcome to the fitness industry where we FREAK THE FUCK OUT about the typical five-pound holiday weight gain during the months where no one sees your body. Beyond being terrified of food, I was such a sloppy drunk, not a single human being invited me to have Thanksgiving with them in 2012. Not my own family, not my friends, not even one of the thousand of strangers following me on the internet. I remember laying alone in my empty house completely shit faced on Thanksgiving that year, sobbing over my life and what I had let it become.
I was sick. And I need to recover. So, a few months later, I got sober. And the next two holiday seasons were incredibly scary for me. I didn’t have food anymore and I didn’t have booze anymore. I had found myself in a very toxic, unhealthy two-year relationship which was preventing my recovery but I was too afraid to leave. Although I was on the mend from my eating problems, and I was refraining from drinking and using, I was not partaking in healthy behaviors across the board thus I never truly felt sober, but more so just “dry”. The holidays spent in that relationship entailed throwing objects, name calling, and threats. Thus my hatred grew stronger.
Once I grew the balls to exit that relationship, I had never felt so free. I was taking care of myself through healthy eating and training. I converted to being actively sober. I started to become the person whom I was truly meant to be. I got help. I made changes. I learned how to love and forgive myself. And then I found my person and I fell head over heels in love.
Once I started working on ME and all the reasons I had fooled myself into hating the holidays, everything changed. The eating disorder, the drinking, the drugs, the toxic boyfriends over the years… those were all things happening because I am an addict who was not treating my illness which I let manifest into hatred. Please don’t be like this. Take care of yourself and get the help you deserve.
This is my second year appreciating Thanksgiving for exactly what it is. I fucking love this holiday so much now, as it is one of the highlights of my year. I have never in my life appreciated my friends and my family to level that I do right now, and I can truly attribute the change to the willingness to admit all my flaws and actively work on them in order to improve my quality of life. Which in turn improved the lives of the people who surround me as no one likes to hang out with a miserable fuck.
Today, I will eat what I want (aka my gluten free, vegan dinner). This is my second TG as a vegan, but first with a Celiac Disease diagnosis. Yes, I am now recovering from 30 pounds of weight loss and internal organ damage from poison aka wheat. The recovery trend lives on.
Today, I will not over eat. I will eat till I am full. I will not care about protein, crabs, or fat. And then I will have one huge piece of pie. Tracking, weighing, and measuring IS NOT conducive to my goals this year.
Ok, enough about me… let’s talk about you. The food and the booze (the two things that the holidays aren’t about, yet we make them about them).
Ask yourself what you want to get out this weekend… are you feeding your goal or your soul? Don’t worry about what anyone else thinks, just do whatever will make you the happiest, as you are the only person who gets to make that choice today. You can eat conducive to your goals or you can take a one day break from that, but your MENTAL wellness should be the deciding factor. Which ever will aid the most in your personal growth and recovery should be the thing you do. (I want to preface this with something for my 500 Black Iron Nutrition Members: all of the following scenarios are more than ok with me and I will hold no judgment; this is about you, not me).
Maybe you are reading this and thinking “Fuck. Off.” as you wait for a bar to open. And that is completely ok as you are right where you are supposed to be on this wild ride.
Maybe you are someone who doesn’t do well with the “unknown” when it comes to calories and macros, so it is likely in your best interest to loosely track for the sake of your own mental sanity, as not tracking may lead to anxiousness. You aren’t going to worry about macros, but you’ll keep your calories in check.
Maybe you are someone who truly values the time you get to spend with your loved ones today, so put your phone away and don’t worry about your macros. The MyFitnessPal app should still be on your phone tomorrow. No regrets, family first.
Maybe you have to make weight next weekend, thus you should be on your best behavior THIS year, as there will be plenty of opportunity to overdo it in the future. Weigh, measure, track, and go leave everything on the platform.
Maybe Thanksgiving is YOUR SHIT and you plan for it the whole year, so OF COURSE you go completely overboard and hate yourself a little bit for it. Totally fine.
Maybe you have no food issues and no substance abuse issues and you are surprised that I even have to write this for 400,000 people. You are not ignorant or oblivious, your struggles have just been different.
Maybe you have made a nutritional commitment to yourself and this is your first year attempting portion control and moderation. So, you are a little scared that you will fail and let yourself or your coach down. Stick to your guns and follow through with your commitment. Remember why you are doing this… for your health.
Maybe you are two weeks or two months sober and this is your first sober holiday season, so you are completely losing your shit. Email or DM me. Stay strong if I am slow reply, I get a lot of these email this time of year, I reply to every single one.
Maybe you are going through a divorce, your dog died, you had a falling out with close friend, you lost your job, your new business isn’t doing well, you are broke, you are sick, so on and you just want to find comfort in food or alcohol. Please to seek it in humans first, as we are the ones who can actually offer that comfort.
Be good to yourselves. All of these things are ok. I really hope you all have the best day ever. I love you.