Why you should allow yourself to indulge during the holidays

It’s the most wonderful time of the year. The chill in the air perpetually smells like snow, carols are playing on repeat through every set of speakers and your home couldn’t be more full of smiling faces of people you love. Oh, and every type of food and drink that comes your way is more decadent than the last. It’s a tough life, right?

Well, if you’re working on certain nutrition, fitness and weight management goals, it can be. Temptation lurks behind every corner of those decked-out gingerbread houses, and each morsel of sugar leaves you jonesing for your next hit. Even your adult beverages get a caloric upgrade when the time comes to bust out the eggnog and Rumchata. How are you supposed to hit your targets and enjoy the holidays to the fullest at the same time?

The short answer: You’re not.

The holidays are not a diet-approved time of the year. The vast majority of people don’t derive joy from finding ways to cut the most calories out of their holiday dishes or waking up at 3 a.m. just to cram in an extra 30 minutes on the treadmill in an attempt to “even the scales.” And none of your relatives want to hear you whimper about this struggle as they try to enjoy the treats and festivities they only get to indulge in once a year themselves. It’s exhausting, it’s stressful, and it can honestly ruin the experience for everyone.

So, during this time, which is really only a span of a couple weeks at most, shift your priorities a little bit. Instead of crunching calorie numbers and watching the number on that bathroom scale like it’s a Santa Claus GPS, let it go. Look up and focus on all of the wonderful people with whom you get to share this magical time of year. Treat the season of indulgence as the celebration of life and love and hope it’s meant to be. And enjoy every last crumb of those frosted Christmas cookies while you can.

We spend so much of our lives searching for a sense of balance, but what we often forget is that balance isn’t achieved in a single moment in time. You don’t have to struggle to tiptoe along a tightrope every second of every day. Instead, consider how the summary of your time looks and what kind of average they create. If, at the end of the year, you stuck to your health-minded goals 80 percent of the time and lived life to the fullest with all of the indulgences this beautiful world can offer in the remaining 20 percent of the time, we’d say you’re 100 percent on course.

With this mindset, you’ll be able to breathe a little easier throughout the holidays, endure a lot fewer stress-induced stomachaches and appreciate the present moment for all the ways it’s enhancing your life. And then, once the fireplace is no longer roaring and the sugar plum fairies have faded from your daydreams, you can shift back to the goals you want to work on — and kick some serious ass.

This article was originally published on Swirled.