In a few weeks it will be January, and at least half the U.S. adult population will be groaning about how much they overdid the holiday spirit and how much they need to suffer to get back in shape. It doesn’t have to be that way. Exercising willpower and self-control now can put you way ahead of the game later. But how to do this and still have fun is the big question.
My take is there is no fun, in the long run, in acting as if there is no tomorrow. This applies all year long, not just during a hectic holiday season. Being mindful of the beauty and joy of this, and every other, season is what it takes to truly appreciate what we have. Eating mindfully allows us to truly savor the good food. Being fully present, and not rushed or distracted, when with friends and family enhances the good feelings (practicing mindfulness also helps combat depression; see here). On the other hand, neglecting yourself (eating and drinking too much and not exercising) leads to bad feelings and regrets.
Willpower is a controversial topic, but should not be. We all have it in varying degrees, and there is a lot we can do to get the most good out of it. See these previous posts for some ideas. Mainly, treat your willpower and self-control as a valuable but limited resource. Don’t expose yourself to extreme amounts of temptation (see this study). Strive for balance in your life, during holidays and all the rest of the time. Finally, I suggest, don’t define “fun” as a continuous orgy of indulgence. What is your definition of “fun”?