This Holiday Season, Count Good Deeds Instead of Calories

This is part three of a three-part series I'm doing on fighting holiday body shaming before it starts. If you haven't yet, read Part One: Four Tips to Start Fighting Holiday Body Shaming Now, and Part Two: Tips for Answering the Question, "Are You Sure You Need That Piece of Pie?".

Every year just before Halloween, the fear of Santa starts being drilled into kids' heads. But somewhere around puberty, the fear of Santa wanes and in its place we start to panic over something even more almighty and powerful: fat.

"You better behave or you'll get coal this Christmas!" turns into "You better behave or you'll get fat this Christmas!"

It starts with subtle hints from a neighbor that you should leave some candy for the trick-or-treaters. With every bite of mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie it builds inside of you, crescendoing with latkes and sufganiyot, sweet potato pie and black-eyed pies. By the time New Year's Eve comes around, you're curled in a shameful ball of guilt, ready to hand your money over to any gym or diet-book that will rid your of this frightful thing.

What would your holidays be like if you didn't fear fat?

No, I'm not trying to sell you some magical diet pill that will miraculous keep you from gaining weight over the holidays, instead I'm trying to get you to invest in two things even more magical this holiday season: yourself and your community.

What if we stopped worrying about gaining weight this holiday season, and instead focused on spreading joy? Here are some ideas for doing just that.

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Invest in your community. Count good deeds, not calories.

I have this dream of creating a Joy Watchers program that has you count up the ways in which you indulge in joy each day, instead of counting calories. Imagine the good that would be done in the United States alone if we quit watching what we ate and instead watched what we said and did.

What if instead of resolving to sign-up for the gym when the New Year approached, we all signed up to help our community? Here are some ideas for how you can invest in your community this holiday season:

  • Build a house with Habitat for Humanity.
  • Prepare meals at your local food pantry. A lot of people volunteer to serve, but many pantries need help cooking as well.
  • Volunteer at a senior citizens center. As a kid, we used to go sing non-denominational holiday tunes at a local convalescent home and it really brought joy to the residents.
  • Be a Big Brother or Big Sister. The holidays are hard for many kids, having a supportive friend could really help.
  • Donate to a toy or clothing drive.
  • Volunteer your time at a local homeless shelter.

This holiday season, count good deeds instead of calories. Spend some time making your community a better place to live.

Invest in yourself. Do something you've been putting off until you "earned" it.

Too often we wait until we're more _____________ to invest in ourselves. What's your blank? For some people that's thin, for others it's wealthy, successful, or even happy.

You don't need to earn decadence and luxury. Thriving is your birthright. Sure, you may not be able to afford a trip to Paris for Christmas, but that doesn't mean you can't eat croissants and watch French Kiss. Yes, a spa day may be out of your budget right now, but that doesn't mean you can't spend an evening taking a long bubble bath and painting your nails.

Whatever makes you happy, go do that. Here are some easy and inexpensive ways to invest in joy:

  • Roll around in warm laundry fresh from the dryer.
  • Put on a bikini (trust me, you have a bikini body) and find a hot tub to soak in.
  • Compliment yourself in the mirror.
  • What made you happy as a kid? Go do that.
  • Watch puppies play. Watch kittens play. Heck, any baby animal will do.
  • Put on your favorite music from your young childhood. Sing along to Itsy, Bitsy, Spider, hand motions and all.
  • Teach someone how to do something you're already good at.
  • Do something unexpected - surprise yourself.
  • Sing around a fire. Roast s'mores.
  • Listen to Baroque music - its tempo is that of your heartbeat.
  • Look through your photos from a recent trip you loved. Set aside a jar for your next trip. Put your coins in it.
  • Take a self-defense class. Beat up the mannequin!
  • Set up a reading chair in an unused corner and give yourself 30 minutes a day to dive into a good novel.
  • Stop waiting to earn luxury and start practicing Daily Decadence. Take a moment to invest in your joy every single day.

This holiday season, treat yourself to a little less judgment and a little more pumpkin pie.

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To help you practice for this and other holiday body shaming situations, I've put together a Fight Holiday Body Shaming worksheet for you. Download it for free here.

Lauren Marie Fleming takes the guilty out of pleasure. An audacious storyteller, she wrote the book Bawdy Love: 10 Steps to Profoundly Loving Your Body, hosts the Bawdy Love podcast, and leads the #BawdyLove revolution, a movement to banish shame and fill our lives with decadence, delight, and joy. For more from Lauren, visit LaurenMarieFleming.com.