How many of you have seen those little signs or T-shirts or memes on Instagram with the beautiful image of Jesus in the cradle and the words “The Reason for the Season”? For years I would see them and have a little twinge of guilt. I was wracked with stress and worry and my mind and heart was far from “The Reason for the Season”.
A fast isn’t necessarily about food, it can be about activities. It can be about giving. Think about what is stressing you out the most right now. Is it time? Finances? Health? Family? Often, as we live in worry and fear, we forget how to invite God into that space. Fasting is supposed to act as a reminder to bring God back into focus and trust Him with our lives. The question then becomes, what would work best for you?
Since I struggled with emotional eating for so long, it still draws me closer to God every time I fast from certain foods, especially sweets. It reminds me to invite Him in to be my comforter and provider. Another fast that I love to do, is a prayer fast. I tend to be very jealous of my time. In the last episode I taught about scarcity vs abundance mentality and how a scarcity mentality around anything is very unhealthy. When I do a prayer fast, I set aside more time to pray and meditate on scripture. As I do that, I rest in God’s provision of time and energy to get everything done that I might need to do. It is so liberating to give those things up to God and let Him be the one in control.
I am now going to give you a list to consider. It is a list of things people might do as a fast during advent. Keep in mind two things as we go over this list: What seems to raise your stress level the most during the Holidays and what do you have a scarcity mentality about? Inviting God into that space will also help you truly reconnect with the reason for the season because you will be constantly reminded of how Jesus built the bridge allowing you to have a relationship with God.
So, here is your list.
For advent you could fast from:
Cell Phones use during certain times of day
Certain Food Items
Remember, the goal is to draw closer to God and stay focused on the reason we are celebrating this special time of year.
You don’t have to let a lot of people know. In fact, keeping it private makes it more about you and God and less about making a statement or what other people think.
This is one of my favorite times of year. In a few days, my little family will begin our own advent calendar of activities and I pray it is full of God’s blessings as we draw closer to the Prince of Peace.
Okay, raise your hand high if you have a couple dishes or desserts that you are eagerly looking forward to this week. I totally get it! I definitely feel my own mouth water when I think of a few dishes that I will be serving up this weekend to my family. Now, if you are one of my international listeners that don’t celebrate Thanksgiving, just apply this information to any tasty treat you connect with a specific celebration or time of year.
Alright, to start us off, let me ask you some questions:
When you sit down in front of those dishes, do you feel both excited and anxious? Do you feel this need to make sure you get your full and fair share? Do you eat more than you need to, even to the point of discomfort, because you feel like this is your one and only opportunity for that experience?
I’m going to level with you and you are totally allowed to laugh at this, but for me it was mainly two things at the Thanksgiving Table: Sausage Stuffing and Pecan Pie. I would over eat it, to my discomfort, not just at Thanksgiving but I would make sure enough left-overs were in my fridge that I could continue to indulge for several days afterward. I would even be jealous of anyone getting into them or eating what I felt was more than their portion.
What I just described, both the questions and I asked along with my personal story, are examples of what psychologists call a “Scarcity Mentality”. When it comes to every resource on the planet, human beings operate out of a scarcity mentality or an abundance mentality. Let me describe this with money. Do you have a friend that always picks up the check? Gives presents all the time? Donates to every organization they come across but don’t make any more money than you do? This person has an abundance mentality. They have no anxiety about money because they believe in their soul that they will always have enough. God will always take care of them. They can afford to be generous. However, you probably also know someone who never picks up the check. They pinch pennies and never want to be part of gift exchanges. They remember every dollar they’ve ever loaned someone and even resent it when someone doesn’t return the favor of buying a cup of coffee. That person probably has a scarcity mentality around money. They believe that they don’t have enough and that the resource will disappear unless managed just right.
When we have a scarcity mentality around food, we see it as being scarce. We will be greedy for it and anxious to get as much of it as possible. We see special or tasty food as being rare and fear that if the opportunity passes us by, we will lose. We have to switch this thinking to an abundance mentality around food.
When you have an abundance mentality around food you can:
Turn down seconds because you can always have that food another time.
Eat only what your body needs because you aren’t worried about “storing” sensations for the time you go without tasting that food.
Eat slowly and savor the moment, because you don’t need to hurry and get more and more before it is gone.
I sat down before the Thanksgiving of 2020 and made a list of all the reasons stuffing and pecan pie weren’t scarce and it completely changed my mentality around Thanksgiving Dinner. On my list were some eye-opening and honest facts.
Guess what? I took those new words to heart. I even started cooking stuffing in the middle of the year just for fun because I could if I wanted. And, then, what was truly special finally came into focus for me: memories, laughter, games.
It was so much fun to clear the table and serve coffee and desserts with a light and energetic body instead of a clawing desire to throw myself face-first into the pillows on my bed.
This Thanksgiving, I want you to look at the four items I listed above and consider your own “special” Holiday treats. Ask yourself, “How do this food make my body feel?” “Is your weight gain worth it for the extra plate and 10 minutes or so of eating?” “How could I use this as an opportunity to enjoy my food and stop at enough instead of too much?” “Could I cook this food or order it from a restaurant at a different time of year if I wanted?”
The Holidays really are a fabulous opportunity to learn how to handle treats and special occasions. You are going to be a PRO. Seriously. If you ask yourself those four questions before each special occasion it will become second nature, switching you from a scarcity mentality around food to a mindset of abundance that will leave you living more freely around food in the weeks and years to come.
Today I want to help you get over the paranoia you might have around having a plan for eating out or eating at special occasions this season. I put together my top favorite coaching tips for eating out or special occasion eating.
I am so excited for you. If you are losing weight with the mentality of keeping it off or are in weight maintenance, the Holidays are a perfect time to really figure out what works well for you in these situations. Today I’m giving six things you can try out that will really give you traction and help you start to figure out what works well for you.
1. Don’t skip meals
This is the first mistake I see people make. Logically it makes sense. You think, “I’ll just skip a meal or two and then I’ll have a lot of wiggle room at the party later.” The problem is that you will most likely get too hungry and your lower brain will freak out and demand even more food than what you planned to eat. Plus, when you get too hungry, you will be even more drawn to sugary and fatty foods for quick energy and dense calories. So, if you want to have your brain and body on your side for this, eating as normally as possible before you go will give you an edge.
2. Drink your water.
When you are dehydrated, your brain and body will give off foe hunger signals, desperate for any way to get you to consume what your body needs. Also, drinking water before a meal will help your brain produce satiation hormones a little sooner and it will help your tummy fill up some space.
3. Fruits and veggies first.
Prioritize getting all your servings of fruits and veggies in this holiday season. Make it a game. The fiber will stay with you longer and fill up your stomach plus the nutrient dense foods will support your health in many ways. Also, if you tell your brain that you need all nine servings of fruits and veggies, your brain will start looking for and noticing opportunities to eat those foods instead of the “treats” you are normally focused on.
4. Know your guidelines
Decide in advance what your eating guidelines are. Will you have a drink? Desert? How many servings of carbs or proteins do you want to eat? Those guidelines are like bumper rails in a bowling alley, giving you support to do what you want to do. Without them, your eating could go anywhere.
5. Eat with pleasure and purpose
There is going to be some really good food the next few weeks--family favorites, dangerous delicacies, and tempting treats. So, when you decide to dig in, be very purposeful and make sure you thoroughly enjoy it. I like to think that I would like to eat one portion and be able to describe it in detail if I was ever abandoned on a desert island. When you eat like that, you are less likely to need to go back for more and more because the experience was fulfilling rather than fleeting.
6. Have a stop phrase ready.
Have a phrase ready to tell yourself the moment your brain suggests going outside of your plan. Mine is, “We’re done here.” I say it in a firm and commanding way, with complete confidence, enjoying that I’m the one in charge. You can also say something like, “That’s enough.” “Stop it.” “Stop staring at it.” “I’m good.” “We’re okay.” etc. Find something that feels right, powerful, and meaningful to you.
7. Evaluate later with a friend or in a journal.
That evening or the next morning, take a couple minutes to evaluate the experience. You can do this in a journal or with an accountability buddy. Go over what worked, what didn’t work, and what would you like to try next time.
Okay, if you aren’t excited, I’m excited for you. Just think, in the weeks ahead you are going to become a pro at this, then during the rest of year if it is a birthday celebration, an office party, or dinner with friends, you aren’t going to sweat it and are still going to show up for yourself with love.
You’ve got this! Let me know how it goes and don’t forget to subscribe to this podcast so that you don’t miss more encouragement this season. My love to you!
A lot of ladies that come to me for coaching have some habit that they would like to stop, but it is also their way of coping--even if it is toxic. The problem usually is, that they just don't know what to do if they made it through a hard day or have something to celebrate without turning to tub of icecream or the TV remote. And, those rewards end up being less than rewarding. When the last bite is eaten or the screen is turned off, they feel like something is still missing.
A personalized reward list is one of the more fun coaching tips that I like to give out. First, I’m going to give you some basic reasons why it is important to have one, then I’ll lead you through some simple steps to creating one of your very own.
A personal reward list is full of things that give you pleasure and leave you feeling fulfilled. I think everyone should have one. It gives you resources to turn to when you need some self care or have something to celebrate, without falling back into coping mechanisms that don’t support whatever goals are important to you.
For example, if you have health goals then your rewards list would only include items that keep you on track with your diet expectations and allow you to get in bed at an hour that is right for you.
Another example is, if you have the goal of being debt free, then your rewards are going to be things that you thoroughly enjoy, but that don’t involve making spontaneous purchases each time you have a rough day.
Okay, Lora, you might say. Sounds great, but those self-care lists never really work for me.
Yeah, me, too. I spent years looking at Pinterest infographics on self-care with my nose wrinkled wondering how a face mask was going to fix things. But, then I discovered some really important things about personal rewards. So, let me share some things that will creating a personal rewards list that makes you smile:
I’m a type 1 on the enneagram and my love languages are acts of service and physical affection.
Okay, let me share ten of my favorites on my own rewards list:
Our world and culture loves to throw at us self-care that isn’t self-caring at all. From eating junk to spending our money recklessly to binging on mindless drama, we have to fight back by finding better ways to reclaim our health and freedom.
So, each of you has some really fun homework this week. I want you to create a personal rewards list, and if you have one, I want you to give it a loving make-over. Don’t forget to consider looking into personality quizzes and self-care research as you do this. And, I would love it if any of you got on Facebook or Instagram and let me know what your top rewards are.
For some people, the holidays are obviously stressful. But, for some who absolutely love this time of year, the stress can be a little sneaky. I like to break it down into two groups:
You love spending special time with your special people, but, with a lot more occasions on the calendar, you can get overwhelmed and easily over-extend your energy.
You are ecstatic to do so many fun things, but not only are you anxious to make sure it is as fun as it should be, you also feel the pressure to make each event highly memorable.
So, that is just a simple breakdown. You might feel yourself relating to both camps of introverted and extroverted, and my four stages of advice work for both. Today I am going to break down four steps that really help me understand how to show up more stress-free during the Holidays so I am less likely to dive into unhealthy coping mechanisms during this precious time of year.
This might be a great episode for you to grab a pen and paper (if you aren’t driving or on a speed bike) and work through some of these ideas.
Step 1: Go back to last year and remember.
The past is always a great place to look at when we are thinking about the future. Ask yourself a few questions:
Step 2: Commit to taking things one day at a time.
Step 3: Stay Grounded
Our memories are lived and enjoyed in the moment so staying grounded in the present will automatically ease stress and make things even more delectable..
Step 4: Never be afraid to lay things down.
It wasn’t until a couple years ago that I finally took things off my plate during the Holiday season that I realized I carried out a simple fear of what others would think. That is no reason to pile your plate higher.
Okay, there you have it, four simple steps for less stress this Holiday season. It is the beginning of November, and you don’t want to wait until mid December to make this plan. Do it now, before the rush hits so that you can keep breathing with peace.
by Lora Armendariz
You Can Do It!
Do you want to fall out of love with a destructive habit? The first 42 episodes of this podcast are a resource for anyone who wants encouragement and information as they take a six week break from a habit in order to fall out of love with it.