I’m home for the holidays this week and reflecting on the peace I feel around food this year. I think that this is due in part to the way that I’ve learned to manage my food a little differently when I’m away from home.
Susan’s been talking a lot about habits and automaticity being at the foundation of a strong program, and I loved the analogy she shared from James Clear the other day about how to think about habits when you are traveling.
She used the analogy of taking care of plants, or a garden. When we’re home, we nurture and cultivate the plants and spend more of energy helping them to thrive. When we are away, the goal becomes for them just not to die.
If we take on a mindset of “I’ll take a break from _______ until after the holidays” then our plants die and we have to start over with new plants when we get home. I’ve learned the hard way in previous years that it’s so much easier to just keep them alive. Even if they aren’t thriving while we’re gone.
This idea has informed how I think about my morning and evening routines during stretches of time when I’m away from home. Instead of my usual 30 minute morning and night time rituals involving meditation, movement, connection, and journaling that are built into my routine at home, when I’m away I only commit to doing those things for 3 minutes, and I call it a win. James Clear would say that it doesn’t matter how much time or energy you spend on the habits, what’s important is that you DO them, even the tiniest, 30 second version of them, to cast a vote for the identity of someone who holds their committments to themselves regardless of the circumstances.
I like to think of these as my home game and away game strategies.
My home game and away game strategies are also slightly different when it comes to my food, especially when navigating the holidays. What matters to me isn’t that every bite of food is perfect and weighed and measured, but that I go to bed every night reinforcing the identity of someone who keeps their bright lines and personal integrity during the holidays.
So, because the circumstances aren’t ideal when I’m away from home and out of my routine, that means my away game bright lines are slightly different from the ones I use at home. I give myself a little more slack in the same way that I give myself slack with my 30 minute yoga/meditation routine. I don’t make any exceptions that could completely derail me (I have a food addict’s brain after all, I know the stakes and the importance of bright lines) but I make it easier for myself. This provides a buffer between perfection and the “danger and destruction zone” that Susan talks about in her recent video.
Some of my away game strategies that help me keep my lines bright when I’m away from home are:
- Sugar & Flour: no change, that’s still not my food.
- Meals: Allow a fourth meal (snack) between lunch and dinner of fruit and 1/2 protein if I am hungry and the group of people I’m with is eating a late dinner.
- Quantities: Use a one plate rule at events and restaurants or the total meal weight method if additional peace is needed.
- Support: Use extra accountability with buddies, commitment contracts, and public instagram challenges.
What are your away game strategies?
Wishing you bright and merry holidays,