Have Your Holiday and Eat It, Too:
Embracing Indulgence Over the Holidays

While it may indeed be the most wonderful time of the year, I’m sure many of us have had the experience of looking back on December and saying, “I completely lost my shit with food!” Then we immediately look at January as the time to restrict, deprive, and “get back on the wagon.”

What if we never fell off the wagon? The phrase “get back on the wagon” implies many things. It implies that we have no power over our own actions. It implies that there is an exact course we should be traveling along. It implies that we are not in charge of said wagon.

My question for all of us is:

What if we never fall off the wagon because we finally take the reins and get in the driver’s seat?

If you were driving this wagon for someone you love – would you drive it so recklessly that they actually fell off? NO!! So how can we drive in such a way that we keep our own self safe and moving forward?

Let’s put it all out on the table right now! There are a ton of seasonal savories and sweets that are calling our name. And this is OK! Food is neither good or bad… it’s our relationship to it that holds the power. So – let’s take an example shall we?

You Holiday parties will likely have these attendees:

Sugar Cookies.

Cheese dip.




BUCKEYES! (What’s a buckeye?)

What’s wrong with these things? Nada. Can we all identify their nutrition-less ingredients? Sure! But can’t we also identify that they were made with love for the purpose of indulging and celebrating tradition? Sure!

So when does an indulgence lead to guilt? When it’s no longer an indulgence.

If we are driving the wagon and truly indulging, we will remember every sip, nibble, and bite. If we hop out of that seat…and binge…we forget. We numb.

Numbing = Forgetting

Indulging = Remembering

In an article titled “Holidays With Grace,” Geneen Roth offers this insight: “Notice if what you want now, from this holiday, has to do with this year, or does it relate to a holiday celebration that happened —or that you wish had happened — 20 years ago.”

I think Roth brings up an interesting idea. How I celebrate now can be different from years past. Whether it’s 30 years ago as a kid or last year, it can shift and grow as my relationship to food shifts and grows. If it’s truly a tradition, how can I treat it with the time and attention it has earned having been part of the celebration over the years?

What Do You Really Want?

With this in mind it made me think, “What am I truly CRAVING this year when I gather with my friends and family?”




And yes, some treats.

If the focus is only on what I get to eat, then I’m losing out on how I can connect, laugh and celebrate. I have experienced this oh so many times. As the first of January approaches, I have an overwhelming sense of, “Man, I just ate my way through the last few weeks… and feel like crap.”

If we are in charge, in the driver’s seat, we are responsible for going faster and for slowing down. We may choose to thrust those reins quickly and hurry right by a stop we don’t want to make. That stop may be an extra engagement that will add to an already exhausting week or that stop may be a food choice that does not come from a place of empowerment.

But if we are in charge of speeding up, then we are also in control of slowing down. We have the power to choose the exact time we stop, pull over and hop OUT of the wagon (not OFF the wagon) and march right over to the decadent, indulgent moment and enjoy the crap out of it!

Take some time to look ahead. During the hustle and bustle of the holidays, take things a few days at a time. Maybe there’s a special gathering where the desire will be to park that wagon and walk into that place and celebrate with full glass and plate. How can you anchor the days before and after so you remain in that driver’s seat? There are countless ways:

  • Load up on those veggies during your ‘non-indulgent’ days/meals.
  • Get moving. Don’t drop your workouts.
  • Sleep.
  • Drink water.
  • And then of course, when you are indulging, give those bites and sips the respect they’ve earned!!!

That’s empowerment. Eat it. Drink it. Walk back to the wagon, grab the reins and carry on… forward.


Steph Wilberding is a Ninja Trainer and resident Show Choir Captain at Mark Fisher Fitness. She’s also an ACE Group Fitness Instructor, Certified Functional Strength Coach, and Certified Health Coach. You can find her online at stephwilberding.com, on Instagram @stephwilberding, and on Facebook.


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