Tomorrow is Canada Day and Sunday is Independence Day in the US. Each day brings a celebration of summer, BBQ's, pool parties, fireworks and unfortunately, excess. Many of us will overeat and over drink this weekend because that's how we've been conditioned and we don't know how to properly deal with the negative emotions that come with long weekends.
Think about it, you won't be distracted by work and your regular daily routine won't serve you. The kids will be more excited and perhaps more hyperactive than usual. Depending on where you live, you might even be getting together with other (real-life) human beings for the first time in months!
Cue 'ALL' the emotions: self-doubt, boredom, anxiousness, stress, overwhelm, and on and on. We were never taught what emotions are let alone how to deal with them. Instead, we were taught to always be happy and if you're not happy, then do something, quick, to feel better. Eating and drinking give us a hit of dopamine, so that will do the trick, but only temporarily. We need 'more and more' to keep the false pleasure carousel going.
Luckily, you can rely on a few resources to avoid overeating and drinking yet still have fun this July weekend.
1. Plan your food and drinks 24 hours in advance
Decide right now what you're going to eat this weekend. Doing so involves using your pre-frontal cortex, the crowning achievement in biology, which is the highest functioning part of your brain.
When you decide what to eat 24 hours in advance, you become highly aware (conscious) of what you eat and when you want to eat something that isn't part of the plan. Planning eliminates sub-conscious eating, which is the biggest culprit of overeating.
2. Allow urges
The best part of deciding what you eat in advance is becoming highly aware of your urges. It might not sound like fun, but there is power and wisdom in your urges. Resisting them using willpower will only drive the desire for food up. Giving in to an urge is technically better than resisting an urge, but obviously not ideal.
Instead, you want to allow an urge. Allowing an urge means to breath into it, get curious about what you are wanting to eat and why. You'll often find there is an underlying negative emotion driving this urge. If you can recognize the emotion and give it some 'air time' you realize it will pass in as little as 90 seconds and that you really don't need food or alcohol to deal with the discomfort and you continue to feel motivated to stay on your meal plan.
3. Create a protocol
Personally, I am a big fan of the 8:16 intermittent fasting window, but there are so many different types of protocols you can follow. Having a structure to follow is another way to stay mindful about your eating and drinking. By nature, it will also help you restrain your caloric intake.
4. Eliminate ALL or NOTHING thinking
If you slip up and eat off protocol or drink more than you planned, know that is okay. Nothing went wrong and it certainly doesn't mean the weekend is a write-off. Get back to your plan and protocol. Your ' 8-year-old' midbrain will want you to quit after the slightest slip and will offer up thoughts like, "I'll just start fresh on Monday". It's important to note that chances are you won't start fresh Monday. Your best chance for success is to start again right away.
5. Connect to your compelling vision
Create a vision of how you want to feel on Monday morning. Do you want to feel bloated and hungover or do you want to feel refreshed and inspired? Creating a compelling vision for how you will feel Monday morning will help guide you when allowing urge, creating a protocol and making good decisions.
All this is to say, the difference between gaining 5+ pounds this weekend and feeling great on Monday is being intentional now. Make a decision and commit and I promise you'll have fun this weekend and avoid all the negative consequences that come with excessive holiday weekends.
By Craig Spear