Friday, December 18, 2015

Tis The Season - 10 Ways I Cope With Holiday Body Stress

Anyone who knows me, knows that I love the holidays. Any holidays. Nope, it doesn't matter which
one. (unless it's Thanksgiving which I skip altogether). I Halloween was a blast, I made spider web hummus and ate mummy dogs and made a blood brew that everyone loved. We had a spider toss game and a spooky story board. It was great and everyone had fun. This Christmas I put up a tree as soon as I was able (which would have been around November 15th). We went to a tree farm, cut the tree down ourselves and dragged it back to the car. I put up lights outside and decorated the mantel so early that I could practically see my neighbors roll their eyes (those Grinches don't decorate at all, to be fair).

I LOVE Christmas, if that isn't obvious yet. I have a jack in the box and a nutcracker and a large Santa by my fireplace. The stockings are stuffed, the presents are wrapped, and I even did some gift exchanges with some people already and I think I may have squealed in delight once or twice.

So why is Christmas always tough to get through? Perhaps it's the onslaught of fatphobic messages that we get from everywhere. Not just social messages from media, but the yearly tradition of hiding, blocking, and unfriending people on Facebook who have decided to try, yet again, a brand new weight loss "journey". (Back in my ED days I was guilty of using this phrase myself.. ugh).

Every magazine you say is advising you on how to either keep off or drop those "holiday pounds", gyms are revving up for their new year's specials, and the diet industry is rubbing it's hands together greedily, awaiting all of our dollars. (Not my dollar!).

The messages from friends and family aren't always intentional, but they're there too. Even if it's just a personal attempt at weight loss, it's a toxic culture of bonding over disordered eating and trying to adhere to social beauty standards that do nothing but kill us slowly.

It's hard enough during this time of year to be a healthy person with healthy eating habits and a healthy mindset. All of the rubbish can still get to you! Throw in a chronic illness and/or a history with an eating disorder/disordered eating and you have a whole new mess on your hands.

So, here's a few things that I do around the holidays to keep my sanity (I am not using the word sanity lightly. I have bipolar disorder and my mental health is very important to me).

   1. Turn off the TV, fast forward through commercials, watch Netflix (commercial free!) or, if all else fails, keep something by you to keep yourself occupied during weight loss commercials. You can browse twitter on your phone, practice your knew knitting technique, or talk to your family. You can even talk about the current commercial and why it's so toxic.

   2. Let friends and family know ahead of time that you won't be tolerating any diet talk, self degradation, or nasty comments about your weight this year. You can post this as a note on your twitter, instagram, tumblr, or facebook if you're less direct, like I am, because of anxiety or whatever other reason, you can write them a letter, or you can have talks with people who will be problematic one on one. Frame it as a way to look after your own health.

   3. Vent to people who understand. Whether that's facebook groups (like Fat Acceptance Cloud), fat positive friends or family, or hey, feel free to send me an email! ( Relieving some of the feelings and anger and hurt that you're having can really help.

   4 .Get yourself something for Christmas that helps you with self care. I bought myself a fat painting by artist Toni Tails. I also like to draw and paint myself so some fat posi art to give away as gifts is great therapy! You can also get yourself bath bombs, makeup, new clothes, jewelry, face scrubs, or anything else that makes you feel like you're being pampered and taken care of.

   5. Stand up for yourself and others. Activism really helps me remember who I'm fighting for. So far this month I've done a shoot for The Fat Naked Art Project (of which I'm the photographer for). Just editing the photos has made me extremely happy.

   6. Have a date night. Whether it's with yourself or with a significant other(s), make sure you know that you're cared for and that someone thinks you're wonderful and beautiful.

   7. Read Feminist and Fat Acceptance articles online- hey.. like this one! Dances With Fat also comes out with some amazing yearly holiday pieces!

   8. Eat good food with people you love. This so often helps us remember that eating is indeed for nourishment, but also for joy. I'll be having a vegan holiday feast this year!

   9. Be mindful. Live in the moment. Notice what's around you at this very moment. For me, that's a corgi sleeping at the other end of the couch, a beagle sniffing at the door, twinkling lights on my Christmas tree, an itch on my belly that I'm resisting scratching because I'm too busy typing, and the sound of the heat blowing through the vents. Notice the little things and try to find the beauty in that.

   10. Finally- Realize that it's okay to feel bad sometimes. We all have days when we don't feel our best, we let the haters get to us or we let ourselves get to us. That's OKAY and it's perfectly normal. Do what you need to do to take care of yourself and recoup so that you can come back twice as strong.

Those are just a few of the things that I do in order to try and make myself feel good during the holidays, but they're good to keep in mind all year round!

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