Today’s guest post is offered up by one of our own, Erin Power . She’s our awesome Student and Graduate Support Lead for the Primal Health Coach Program as well as an amazingly successful  health coach in her own right. I love her message of taking the reins of your life today—all the better to enjoy the holidays and meet the coming New Year with unprecedented health and possibility.
Right around this time every year my inbox explodes. People are already dreading their impending, inevitable holiday weight gain and are wondering if they can somehow get ahead of the curve—make a preemptive strike, if you will. And that’s how it happens…one of the busiest times for my health coaching business, believe it or not, is the weeks leading up to and including the holidays.
“If I sign up with you now,” people often ask, “can you please help me make it through Christmas without packing on 15 pounds—again??”
I’ve got good news. Not only can you make big, bold change in your health and happiness right up to and during the holiday feasting season, but doing so is an incredibly fun experiment with a rewarding outcome.
This is the ultimate n=1 experiment because the lore of “insidious holiday weight gain” is so ingrained in our culture that—at its worst, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. At its best, however, maybe it can become a benchmark against which you can test yourself. Can you buck the trend and finish the holiday season leaner, lighter, healthier, happier, and better than you were before you started?
Upending (Unhealthy) Holiday Tradition
Imagine cruising through the holiday season enjoying your favourite indulgences sensibly, while having absolute control over your hunger, cravings, and willpower, such that an indulgence simply becomes what it was always meant to be: a treat to be savoured and celebrated by all of the senses—not a mindless binge.
Likewise, a slip becomes a moment in time, not a catastrophic setback that needs to be atoned for by attempting to make (and not break!) a host of New Year’s resolutions.
I’m not talking about avoiding your favourite foods. I’m talking about changing the expression of your hunger, such that those treats call to you more quietly. Your enjoyment of them becomes more authentic. Mindful, even.
This mindfulness is one of the most elegant subjective markers of what Mark refers to as metabolic flexibility. Once your body knows how to extract and use a variety of fuels—from the food you eat, and/or from storage repositories in and on your body—the entire experience of hunger and cravings changes.
A rather perturbed client said to me once (after I’d “taken away” all of the cookies, chips, and crackers she had a habit of snacking on in the evenings): “Now what am I supposed to reach for when I come home after an impossibly long day at work/carting the kids around to sports/getting my workout in/doing all the household chores/walking the dog, and I’m rifling through the cupboards ravenously looking for some crackers to tide me over until dinner?!”
My answer: That entire scenario goes away. Your hunger doesn’t present like that anymore. You gain control.
When you’re riding the rollercoaster of “dieting-cheating-failing-self-condemnation-dieting again” it’s incredibly hard to imagine that your sensation of hunger could change like this, that you could have no desire for cookies, chips, and crackers. But I’ve personally witnessed it in my clients time and again—liberation from food fixation.
Just think…if you begin the process of metabolic repair now, you could be this calm, cool, and collected even when Grandma shows up with her world-famous shortbread.
You Have 10 Weeks—Take Action Now
I roll in a lot of nutritionist, dietician, and health coach crowds, and we’re all selling the same thing: “New Year, New You! Beat holiday weight gain! Sign up with me today!”
As a Primal Health Coach, the way I approach this is by tapping into the biochemistry of human fueling, which is beautiful and simple in its relative black-and-whiteness. The body can get fuel from a few different sources. It can use these different fuels in a few different ways. And when the body is fuelled, hunger quite simply changes.
The trick is building the metabolic machinery to help train your body to achieve this flexibility. No weighing, measuring, diarizing, chronicling; no “earnin’ and burnin”—just simply building an understanding of how to get your metabolic machinery functioning in top form again. Trust me when I tell you that it changes the game.
2018 Could Look a Lot Different For You
New Year’s is often fraught with a mix of regret and urgency. How about meeting 2018 from a different angle? When January 1 rolls around, you could feel better about yourself than you ever have before.
Instead of going up a belt notch to accommodate your holiday bloat, you could be down a notch or two or more.
Rather than feeling like an abject failure for exhibiting no control over your cravings, you’ve successfully enjoyed the sensory pleasures of the season while being in control the entire time.
You could have more energy than you know what to do with, having trained your body to utilize a variety of readily available fuel sources.
You can join the gym alongside everyone else if you want to, but you won’t feel like you have to. (In fact, you can wait till March when the prices drop!)
Imagine feeling more connected to your body—to your appetite!—than you ever have before. You’ll know what true hunger feels like. You’ll know how to answer that hunger with satisfying and nutrient-dense foods. You’ll connect back to the long-forgotten feeling of satiety, which, by the way, is different than feeling “full.” There’s no need to unbutton your pants when you’ve eaten to pleasant satiety!
The concept of “willpower” (with its suggestion of struggle) could all but vanish for you. You’ll find yourself calmly in control. You can make a choice to eat one or two of Grandma’s world-famous shortbread cookies, and then stop. Or you can choose to forgo them without obsessive restraint.
Once you’ve adapted to new food habits that support your optimal human experience, you may find yourself continuing to get better year over year. As one of my clients succinctly put it after just 6 weeks on my health coaching program, “I love living like this. I can eat this way forever.”
It Works If You Do—But That Doesn’t Mean You Need to Go It Alone
If you’ve been reading Mark’s Daily Apple for any length of time, you’ll know Mark pulls no punches when he suggests that the act of making these changes is a paradigm shift in body and mind. Not only are you rewiring your body’s metabolic response to some degree, but you’re creating totally new behaviours around food. What you eat. When you eat. WHY you eat.
A Primal Health Coach is trained to educate you on the What and When. The Why becomes a team effort. Your health coach is there to help nurture you along the winding path to behaviour modification, helping you navigate and cultivate resilience through the choppy waters of big change.
If you could have done it alone, perhaps you would have by now.
Accountability is a funny thing. Clients will tell me that they’ve hired me to hold them accountable; however, accountability ultimately comes from within. A great health coach knows how to tease that out of you, so you can feel pride of ownership over your own health.
Eventually, if all goes according to plan, the concept of accountability vanishes. Once your “new” way of eating has become deeply-ingrained habit, you won’t have to hold yourself accountable to anyone. You’ll just live. You’ll just eat. You’ll just move.
Food decisions can casually move out of the intellectual nitpicking back into the automatic realm with all of the other survival mechanisms, like breathing. Your relationship with food changes, once and for all.
If I could give one gift to everyone on my holiday wish list this year it would be the gift of learning how to eat to support metabolic flexibility. There are almost no words to effectively capture the liberation and effortlessness that you can achieve in your relationship with food and your body. You have to live it to believe it.
And if you start now, you could be living it by 2018—and beyond.
What Will You Do with These Next 10 Weeks?
And what will help you get there?
Are you ready to do it differently this time and invest in personal, Primal-minded support for your health vision? Check out our “Find a Primal Health Coach” directory .
Wishing everyone an awesome holiday season and good health as we move toward a new year—and new possibilities.
Erin Power , CHNC, PHC
Thanks to Erin for a great kick-it-into-gear message this morning. I know I’m feeling inspired! Tell me, who’s got a goal for the next ten weeks? I’d love to hear it, and I know others would love to offer their encouragement. Thanks everyone, and have a great end to your week.