From: Nia Shanks

Messages like time to work off all those holiday goodies! annoy me, mostly because I know the damage they can cause.

Thinking food must be “earned” or, worse, that you must punish yourself for eating your favorite holiday foods creates a dangerous precedent that can lead to (or increase) a negative body image and disordered eating habits.

Now that the holiday season is in full force, our social media feeds are being assaulted with You Ate It, Now Negate It challenges and other brutal workouts to “burn off” all the tasty holiday treats.

Working out regularly with an emphasis on gradually improving performance is a worthy journey. And that journey and focus doesn’t change just because you ate some pie. Or even a lot of pie.

Exercise should be done to improve your health, to make you feel good about yourself, as an act of self care, to get stronger, to relieve stress, to be a role model to your children, to build muscle because you want to build muscle and know muscle is beautiful.

Exercise is not something you should feel obligated to do as punishment for overindulging, or even eating a piece of chocolate bourbon pecan pie (one of my Thanksgiving specialities, in case you care). Doing a workout as a means to “earn permission” to eat food is absurd.

So what should you do if (when) you happen to enjoy more food and goodies than expected during the holiday season?

Not a damn thing.

Don’t feel guilty. Don’t vow to punish yourself with an extra workout or a three-day extreme calorie restriction. Get back to doing what you do: eating in a way that strengthens, satisfies, and nourishes your body. And, hopefully, lift some weights while you’re at it.

End rant.

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