Helping you feel empowered and successful this Thanksgiving. This works at any and every holiday and of course in your everyday life. The things I will cover today in terms of mindset reframes, tools, tips, tricks, tactics, strategies, questions, anything that I’m going to mention today, I think is going to be applicable to any holiday any time of the year, any social occasions, special occasions. Really anything that might feel out of the norm in terms of how you might normally eat.
There is a little bit of an obstacle when it comes to feeling successful or empowered.
I’ve been in the fitness industry for about two and a half decades at this point and there does seem to be some seasonality to weight loss. I see women who will put their weight loss goals, and really kind of all their goals, on hold. This kind of starts right around Halloween. It’s not exactly when the Halloween candy hits the shelves, because now it gets earlier and earlier.
You see it at the end of August, but usually by Halloween;
- We get the candy,
- We might have been trying to resist it,
- I’m not going to have it,
- I’m not going to eat it,
- I’m holding off,
Then I have a piece of candy on Halloween and that’s it.
My brains like, you blew it. You know what, it’s the holidays, it’s going to be Thanksgiving and Christmas and then New Year’s. Then I’m just going to have to revisit all my goals in like mid January. We make ourselves a seasonal project. We look at weight loss as a seasonal thing, which does make sense.
Most of us are very conditioned to diets, dieting, diet culture, cycles of dieting.
As a dieter, this is part of that cycle that we don’t diet. We do whatever we want. We let it all go, kind of put it on the back burner. And we have a lot of beliefs that support this.
When we have a dieting mindset, it’s kind of different than having the identity of someone who is at their ideal weight and;
- Doesn’t have to think about dieting.
- Doesn’t have to get back on track,
- Doesn’t need to constantly reset,
- Is not worried or obsessed,
- Is not struggling with a lot of food rules.
Most of my life has been dieting, food rules, and restrictions. It’s taken me a really long time and a lot of practice to move away from that. So if you’re somebody who’s like, that’s me, you’re not alone. I think most women are sort of caught in that diet lifestyle.
There are a lot of beliefs that would support our making ourselves like this seasonal project;
- We get into this holiday season
- It’s dark,
- It’s cold,
- The clocks have changed,
- The days on the calendar are moving,
- I know the holidays are coming,
- I see all of the ads on TV for Black Friday, and now Cyber Monday,
- I got to get all the gifts.
- I don’t have time.
- It’s too busy.
- There’s so much going on.
- It’s been crazy.
- It’s too hard to get started.
- I’ll have to wait until after the holidays.
- I’ll have more money after the holidays, which is an odd one because you won’t have more money after the holidays.
- I can’t keep up.
- My time is not my own.
- I don’t have any help.
- I have to do it all.
- It’s too late now.
- I can’t make enough progress.
- Why bother?
- I will just wait till January.
You might have all of those. You might have one or two.
I have previously talked about a default thought, a belief that I had that came up for me all the time. It was kind of funny when I found people on my team, my staff, my partners in crime, they were saying back to me. I was like, okay, timeout. My beliefs are now spilling over into others. I think this happens when we get into this cycle of, it’s so busy, I don’t have any time, I don’t have any money, I can’t work on myself, it just takes too much time. It takes too much time to do anything, to work out, to make food, to get my steps in, to get water, to go to sleep.
That’s what we’re putting out, not only in our own brain, but we’re putting it out into our own personal ecosystem. In your own home, at work, with your friends, with your family, it’s the vibe. It feels like it’s contagious and everybody just says it right back. Yeah, me too. I’m so busy. Yeah, I’m too busy. I can’t manage it all. I’m drowning. I’m overwhelmed. And you can see probably, as I’m saying it or reading off this list, it feels terrible.
Nothing that I said felt very inspirational. Certainly not the road to feeling empowered and successful. In fact, that’s why it’s important to get this out there. I think it’s important to have an honest conversation if we really want permanent change. Part of that is just getting real. Having an honest conversation with ourselves.
You never have to share the thoughts you have with other people unless you want to. I will tell you that probably the thoughts and beliefs you have about your weight or weight loss, your size, the scale, food, food rules, holidays, all that stuff are probably really similar things that I have thought in belief before too.
I’m not looking to shame anyone for this, I’m calling attention to the fact that every single year, we will have holidays. You get to decide;
- How you want to spend those holidays,
- What you want to do,
- How you want to feel,
- How you want to show up,
- What the holiday looks like for you.
you might have some thoughts like no, I don’t have control, it’s not up to me, but I want to help you kind of pull that apart.
Thoughts and beliefs.
I want to be able to figure out with you what thoughts and beliefs that you have about the holidays, your weight and your weight loss goals or any goal you have. Whether it’s the goal to just change your body composition, to become healthier, to get more steps in to prioritize yourself. Whatever your goal is, I’m here to encourage it.
Doing positive affirmations like “I’m worth it,” I have nothing against that. I think sometimes we have to remind ourselves or pretend we’re our own best friend and remind ourselves that you are worth it. But your brain has a whole much bigger longer list telling you;
- You need to put other people ahead of you.
- Your needs are not the most important needs.
- That would be selfish.
- You have other people to take care of.
- You have kids or parents or siblings.
- You manage people at work.
- You have all these responsibilities,
- You have to get all this stuff done.
Then maybe with the leftover time and energy, if you wanted to go for a five minute walk, maybe that would work out. Our brain is going to find all the reasons why we can’t achieve what we want, because it’s the holidays.
I think it’s important to put it in writing. Then you can look at it, and then take each belief one at a time. You really see, is that true that I don’t have time? Is that really true? I think part of it is that we also realize in our minds, our brain tells us it takes a lot of time to do these things like exercise and meal prep. It takes a lot of time to do healthy things for ourselves, but that’s not always true.
I am of course always going to recommend that minimum effective dose. If you could work out for 20 minutes, I think you’re going to be way ahead of the person who works out for zero minutes. When we’re talking about food prep or meal prep or meal planning, honestly that stuff saves you time. It saves you brain power if you can start to automate a lot of what you eat.
With that all being said, I want to get into being more helpful. I want to get into the part where I talked about being successful, and feeling empowered. So there’s something I want to bring up. Thanksgiving is one day only, it’s one day out of the year. And I am all about you, me, all of us enjoying our holiday and also being aware of that all or nothing thinking trap. When people say, you’ll see it, you’re gonna see it from here on out. If you don’t already see it on Instagram and Facebook and tik tok, you’re gonna see the super fit influencers telling you, hey, you know, Thanksgiving, just one day, you don’t need to diet and you don’t need to count calories, and you don’t need to count macros. It’s just one day. And I agree with that.
I really don’t think counting calories and counting macros is the key. If that was the key to you losing weight and keeping it off, you’d already be there. But what happens is that our brains, and even maybe these fitness influencers, are pushing this narrative of you should be able to be moderate. We come back to this, well it’s Thanksgiving and you shouldn’t diet. That’s unAmerican, or something that’s unpatriotic or that’s unpilgrim like. What is even the holiday about? You shouldn’t diet, that would be bad. You’d be missing out, that’s gonna create a lot of problems. And it’s just one day.
There’s truth to the fact that you’re not going to gain 10 pounds in a day, you’re not going to gain 10 pounds in a weekend, or even a month. In fact, the holiday season, maybe Halloween to January ish, are you going to gain 10 pounds? Probably not, you might gain two to five pounds. Which is not a huge problem, except that a lot of women are gaining two ish pounds every single month. It’s the cumulative effect of weight gain. That is the problem.
“It’s just one day out of the year.”
Our brain is going to make that mean, eat whatever the f*ck you want. This is what we call permission based eating run amok. So permission based eating, I am all for permission based eating at face value. I am, sign me up. I’m all for it. If I have permission to eat anything I want, then there’s not this urgency to eat things. I don’t crave, desire, dream about, fantasize about cookies and candy and cake because I’ve given myself permission.
However, permission based eating is something you’ll find with intuitive eating. I don’t know if you’ve ever done any reading on that. Intuitive Eating fails a lot of people because they just try to do it on their own. They think well, if I give myself permission, and I’m going with my intuition. They attribute their intuition to their primitive brain. Our primitive brains cannot be trusted to have intuition about how much to eat. Not in this scenario.
Do I believe in listening to a gut feeling? Like if you get into an elevator, and there’s some creepo on the elevator and you get away? Yep, get off the elevator. I am all about following your intuition. But you want to be careful when you let your primitive brain take over when it comes to eating whatever I want. Giving myself permission. Oh, I have an inch. I feel like having a whole pizza. Okay, sure. Who doesn’t feel like having the whole pizza. But that’s not intuitive eating. It’s not even permission based eating that is. That is us, overlooking whatever root causes are triggering us to want to overeat. That’s what that is.
There’s nothing wrong with that. It’s okay if your brain offers you, eat all the things, have whatever you want. It’s okay. But when I think about Thanksgiving as one day only, I think more about how I want it to be. If this is one day, how do I want it to be? So I have some questions. I think that will help you with your own Thanksgiving. Don’t you worry, because I know there is someone out there like just tell me what to eat b*tch, and I’m actually going to get there. I’m not telling you, pick the green beans over the brussel sprouts because they’re two calories less. No, not any of that. But I do have some more practical tips for those of you who are like, this mindset sh*t hurting my brain.
I have four questions.
1) What does success look like to you?
It’s all fun and games for me to say, I want you to feel successful. Okay, what does that even mean? What does success look like to you?
Let’s put it in the frame of like for Thanksgiving or the holidays.
- What would be a successful Thanksgiving for you?
- What does that look like? What does it mean?
- How would you feel successful?
It’s okay, if you’re like, I don’t know. Because it’s weird to ask your brain to come up with these answers. I think sometimes we think we know what success is or empowerment, but it’s different for everybody. It’s not the same for me if this helps you.
When I think about what success looks like, for me personally. I think about it, not just for Thanksgiving but for everyday. Maybe specifically for Thanksgiving because it tends to be, for most of us, a day that we equate with over doing it, over consumption. For me, success would be not over eating, feeling calm, unbothered, peaceful, and enjoying the food. Whatever food it is. Enjoying it. Not worrying about it and not feeling like I have to eat it all because the reality is, wherever you’re going for Thanksgiving, most everything that you get to eat can be had at another time. There is no shortage of pumpkin pie. There really isn’t. Some of the holiday is very much linked to memories, our past Thanksgiving, when we grew up Thanksgiving with certain people, and whether we liked them or didn’t like them. I get that, I totally do.
For me, I have a little bit of a story that I like, because I think sometimes stories we have even negative stories are very self serving. My story about holidays is that I don’t like holidays. It’s a very self serving story. Because if I don’t like holidays, then I don’t have to have any expectations and nothing bothers me. I don’t have these things that have to happen. I just go with the flow. I don’t need a particular person, dish, or scenario. I don’t have these things that have to happen.
I’ve always been in a service based industry and that service based industry is fitness. Fitness for the most part goes 364 days a year. I have the Fitness Asylum, we close only one day out of the year and that is on Christmas Day. We run classes 364 days a year. As a fitness professional working in so many different gyms and working for myself, I work all the time. I always look forward to holidays, like Thanksgiving or Christmas, as just a day off.
My husband, as a police officer, worked many holidays. He worked for two days on two days off, so your schedule would eventually hit Thanksgiving or Christmas or whatever holiday. To be perfectly honest, I liked that. It fed my narrative that I didn’t holiday. I didn’t have to go anywhere. This was before kids, where my husband would be at work, I would just go out for a long walk with my dogs and I’d come home, make scrambled eggs. I’d be really sincerely very happy. Then I would call my dad, maybe talk to my brother and call people on the phone. That would be it. I’d be totally happy.
Then of course, for a lot of women, we have kids or something happens. Maybe you get married to somebody else or you move and the circumstances change. What happened for us, my husband’s parents are deceased, so we didn’t really have that option that we were gonna go have that family dinner. My dad lives in St. Louis and no one wants to travel, get on an airplane for Thanksgiving. He’s fine with that.
We kind of created our own ritual of that we eat out and not only do we eat out, we go to a the local casinos in Connecticut. They’re tribally owned casinos, so we definitely will go to Mohegan Sun. Sometimes stay over a night or two. They have an indoor pool and a kid’s arcade. It’s what we do with the kids. It feels fun for us. We sort of created our own Thanksgiving ritual. It’s a little bit out of the box because not everybody goes to a casino, especially when they don’t gamble. We are there the night before Thanksgiving, and nobody else is there. Kids are using an indoor pool and they have lovely restaurants there. So that’s what we do. Success to me is just enjoying that time with my family and creating new memories for my kids.
My success is just to give my kids something that they can look back on fondly. Not schlepping, traveling and we don’t want to go to this person’s house. We don’t want this big hassle like a lot of us grew up with. Maybe that sounds familiar, where you’d go to Aunt Edna’s house and we don’t want to do that. We got to go there or your parents got divorced and you had to go to one parent’s house.
Holidays are interesting because they come with a lot of past. If you’re 45 years old, you have 45 Thanksgivings. You remember 35 of them, and they might not have all been great. Here’s a cool thing, as an adult, we get to decide and have more control over what we do with our holidays. Even if you’re like, we always have to go to this place. You do have control over what you believe about it and how you want to feel about it.
2) How do you want to feel physically and emotionally?
- How do you want to feel physically the day of Thanksgiving, like while you’re eating?
- How do you want to feel physically that night?
- When you go to lay down in bed?
- Are you popping 8000 Pepto Bismol?
- How do you feel?
- How do you want to feel Friday morning?
- How do you want to feel Monday morning?
Play it out. That way you can kind of work backwards. How do you want to feel emotionally?
- I want to feel good.
- I want to feel happy.
- I want to feel calm.
- I want to feel in control.
I would make note of that because if you want to feel happy, calm and in control, guess where that comes from? That comes from your thoughts, your beliefs. What you feel like you have control over.
3) What do you need to believe?
What do you need to believe about Thanksgiving? About the food? About yourself?
What do you need to believe about Thanksgiving in order for you to feel successful and
empowered? What do you need to believe? I would need to believe that I can enjoy the food that I want and it not be a problem. I don’t have to over eat it. I don’t have to sneak and hide it. I don’t have to restrict and starve myself the whole Thanksgiving dinner and then bring food home and over eat it by myself later. I would just think about it, especially based on any past holidays that maybe didn’t go the way you had hoped.
If you feel like, well, who cares? What difference does it make? I should just be able to eat whatever I want. What if you can taste it all, have your favorites, not feel out of control and not throw away your goals? You could lose weight, the week of Thanksgiving.
4) What would you need to do?
Sometimes, as women, we’re used to doing these things. Just tell me what to do, what to eat, how to work out, which supplements to take, tell me the things I need to do. Which I am more than happy to do. So I have some things for you to do.
If I’m a good coach, I’m going to try to figure out what you want to do. One of the things I think that is very helpful, at the very least for the week of Thanksgiving, I would definitely do this. It depends on if you’re traveling, if you are going on vacation, if you’re taking a long weekend, somewhere away. You might want to have a plan for the whole week, Monday through Sunday. You might want to have a plan that is Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday. You might want to play on that Wednesday night and Thursday, or Thursday and Friday. It just depends on what kinds of things you’d like to do.
I have a lot of friends, they might typically go to New York City after the holiday. They’ll go Friday morning and go shopping. So they know they’re going to be up early. They’re probably going to need to pack something to eat or have a plan. It just depends on what kind of holiday things you like to do. For some people it’s just Thursday, and then it’s back to work.
I would plan your day in advance. That’s it. I think sometimes people don’t want to plan because we then think, Oh, well that means if I plan then I’m not going to be able to eat my favorite food. I have to write down salad and chicken. No.
When I think about planning the day in advance, I just want to ask myself;
- What are we eating?
- What am I drinking?
- What’s the workout?
- What am I eating for Thursday?
One of the things I would do and it depends of course on the time of day that you eat. They call it Thanksgiving dinner but some people eat at 1pm, some people eat at three or five. You could be eating at a different time and still Thanksgiving dinner. I would still eat when you wake up if you’re hungry. If you get up at 7am or 8am or whenever you get up, if you’re hungry I would eat. I would not do this thing where we’re saving calories. We got to save it all. Do not eat until this Thanksgiving dinner.
If I was planning what I was going to eat, I would probably approach it like anything else. You might already be in this habit. There’s going to be protein, it’s probably turkey. Maybe it’s a brisket or steak or lobster. It could be anything right? I don’t know your traditions. I would really start with protein and lots of vegetables. Then everything else that you want.
- Did you want stuffing?
- Do you like mashed potatoes?
- Do you like cranberry sauce?
By the way, I like cranberry sauce from a can. That stuff that comes out like a can shaped glob. I love that stuff. That’s kind of what I would do. I’m not about your plate has to be half protein and half vegetables and then in the tiny corner you can have one bite of stuffing, one cranberries, one little tiny dinner roll. No, I’m not about that at all.
I want you to figure out what makes sense for you. What is it that you enjoy eating? And then do that, but think about having protein and vegetables. I also want to remind you that if you’re planning and you’re willing to plan and you’re willing to at least think about it and make some decisions ahead of time, what is realistic for you?
What would make this a great day for you?
Seriously, what would make this a great day for you? I know, it’s kind of weird. It’s like we as women, at least for me, I feel like I’m always trying to figure out what would make it a great day for my kids? Or what would my husband like? Or what would my staff like? Or what am I supposed to do? Asking ourselves, what would make it a great day for ourselves? I think it is a valid question.
Sometimes it’s really just the gift of time. Being able to sleep a little longer or take more time getting ready. Do you want to bring some type of dish to wherever you’re going? That’s an option, too. There are no set rules for how you’re supposed to do Thanksgiving. Even if you think there is, there’s not. You could decide to bring your own food. You could decide to get takeout. You could decide to stay home. You could make any decision you want. I would just make sure that it answers this question. Does this feel like a success and empowering to you?
Is this what you want? I know it kind of makes you scratch your head because ultimately, my thought is that you can lose weight all year long. There is nothing special about the holidays, other than two things.
- It’s a day on a calendar and it comes every year.
- Whatever thoughts and beliefs you have about the holiday, you can ask 10 people about their Thanksgiving,
- What do they do?
- What do they eat?
- What are their traditions?
- What do they like?
- What don’t they like?
- What they look forward to?
- What they don’t look forward to?
And you’re gonna get a lot of different answers.
If I was going to answer these questions, if I wanted to feel successful, and I wanted to be able to lose weight all year long, what would I need to believe? I would need to believe that there is no reason for me to feel like I have to overeat at any holiday. I can pace myself, I can actually have turkey and stuffing on a Friday. It doesn’t even have to be the day after Thanksgiving. I could actually go get a turkey stuffing sandwich probably anywhere, anytime.
One of the things that I think is really helpful is to figure out what you are eating and what you are drinking.
- Is it just because that is what everybody else is doing?
- Is it because you feel like you have to?
- Is it because you’re being offered these things?
- Somebody is making this for you?
That is why I think it’s really critical to plan your day in advance.
- How many drinks are you going to have?
- When you think about what you’re going to eat are you going to have one dessert?
- One piece of pie?
- Are you going to have two small pieces of pie?
- Is there something that you want to try?
- Are you going to be realistic and straight up honest with yourself in a way that feels good?
Your primitive brain is really going to try to push for, it’s just one day, you deserve this. Everybody else is doing it. But if you’re somebody who is moving towards that identity of a woman who loses weight and keeps it off, what does she eat? How does she eat? Be careful because your brain will also offer you that there’s only two choices. It’s either eat your face off or diet.
The message here at Unf*ck Your Weight Loss is that there is space in between. No matter what you choose, I hope you have a wonderful, happy and healthy and safe Thanksgiving.
ABOUT THE HOST
Bonnie Lefrak is a Life & Body Transformation Expert and Founder of Self Made, a program designed to help you tackle the physical aspects of health and weight loss as well as the beliefs and thoughts that drive our habits and behaviors. It is her goal to help women create certainty in their own lives, their own results, and their own abilities.
Weight loss is not about the one “right” diet – it is about MUCH more than that. Weight loss is not about the one “right” workout. Weight loss is not about being positive and putting a big smile on.
Weight loss is about FEELINGS. All of them. Not trying to bury them or hide from them but knowing and allowing the full human experience. Weight loss is not about grinding hustling and will powering your way to some end line. Transformation (when done well) is done from the inside out.
By addressing both the physical and mental aspects of dieting and weight loss, she has coached thousands of women ages 30-55+ from all over and helped them ditch the mindsets that are holding them back, achieve permanent weight loss, and get the bangin’ body of their dreams.
Bonnie is an expert at Demystifying weight loss. She helps you u****k your diet brain. She is on a mission to help women love themselves, to find PEACE in the process of losing weight, taking care of themselves, and leveraging the power they do have to become who and want they want right now.
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