My boyfriend, Chuck is in real estate and entered this career during what has been rumored the worst real estate market of our time. This industry is often categorized as Feast or Famine and we have experienced some grueling financial battles. Right before this recent upswing, I caught a true glimpse at what famine could look like. Healthy food was the last thing that I would negotiate on when we were making cuts from our life. I always wanted to make sure that we had a supplement of nutritious food in the house. However, in those final weeks, we were extremely close to only natural peanut butter and whole wheat bread. Contrary to popular belief, therapists don’t make the big bucks when our debt to income ratio is offset by graduate student loans.
This time of famine has given me a whole new perspective as we enter this country’s most celebrated feast, Thanksgiving. For the past couple of years I have been gradually replacing outdated family recipes with Heart Disease and Diabetes as the main course with more whole foods and natural ingredients. However, I always felt it necessary to make it a large Feast! We needed enough food to have 3 servings a piece and leftovers for days. Hmmm… maybe a little unnecessary, especially when I see clients who consistently know the meaning of famine and may not have any resemblance of this feast.
During our time of famine, I have learned greater restraint and what we really need to live happy, healthy lives. I don’t need regular trips to the mall or biweekly pedicures (although bimonthly wouldn’t be bad). I don’t need fancy dinners out and expensive gatherings with friends. I am not entitled to bigger, better, greater.
Our black and white thinking is often the most self-destructive. It is all or nothing, good or bad, rich or poor, feast or famine. This thinking can interfere with how we think of ourselves, how we feel about our partners, and how successful we are in a healthy lifestyle. Countless times I hear stories about clients that cheated on their diet so they gave it up for the week. They “failed” once so why not give up on trying. There are also the stories of “I have no money anyway so I blew what I did have.” Or sometimes the most devastating, “my partner disappointed me, so they are not the person I thought they were.” All of these lead to additional, unnecessary angst.
Seeing the shades of grey by building our tolerance of ourselves and others is how we can practice mindfulness, non-judgement, and peaceful thinking. Life doesn’t have to be one or the other. Sometimes it requires creativity, simplification, and acceptance, but none of those have to be negative. So as you enter into your holiday season, remember that your menu doesn’t have to be healthy or unhealthy. You don’t have to give in to gluttony through the whole weekend if you overeat on the big day. And if this is a holiday that you are without family or a partner, this doesn’t have to be the worst holiday or the only chance to have family over the holiday.
I have come to learn that you can never have enough money or time. For us, we are trying to learn how to be grateful for what we have when we have it. Creating a balanced life is a life worth living.
Here are some ideas for a balanced holiday:
- Sign up for a Turkey Trot in your community for Thanksgiving morning
- Add a healthy, low-cal veggie to the menu such as baked squash or a seasonal salad
- Plan a fun game night with friends during the days off
- Plan your menu, cut the estimated serving down by 1/4 and donate the money you saved to your community experiencing famine
- If you shop on Black Friday, try it leisurely and patiently, without rigidity or expectation.
- Practice gratitude in your thoughts, actions, and words.