Starting this month, and sadly for a while, you’ll see and hear a lot about “indulging”—as in Don’t! or Do and face the consequences! or Do and be sure to work off those extra calories! You’ll see and hear a lot about starting and sticking to your diet, which supposedly isn’t a diet (but really is).

You’ll see and hear a lot about the best and worst foods to consume, and about tricking yourself into eating less and quelling your cravings. You’ll see and hear a lot about detoxes and juice cleanses.

You’ll see and hear clever tips and tricks for sticking to your workout routine and for burning fat around the clock. You’ll see and hear alllll the details about the whopping calories in your favorite pie or the supposedly astronomical average number of calories the average person consumes on American Thanksgiving—and Hanukkah and Christmas and New Year’s Eve.

And as you’re seeing and hearing these things, you’ll probably start wondering and worrying. You’ll probably start dreading the gatherings and meals and desserts. Because it’s hard.

It’s so hard to focus on anything else but worry when fear is all around you. Fear of food. Fear of weight gain. Fear of freedom. Because when you listen to your body and drop the diet mentality (i.e., I must work off everything I eat; such and such foods are bad or sinful or forbidden; I can only eat dessert once a week or never), and when you ignore the magazine headlines, tips on social media and shaming articles, you feel so free. Because it’s not the number on the scale or calories you consume that weigh you down, it’s the fear. It’s the bad feelings about yourself.

Instead of focusing on diet-saturated tips and tricks, and fear and numbers, focus on what kind of holiday you’d like to experience. What are you most excited about? What memories would you like to make? What traditions would you like to start or continue? What would you like to savor? What brings you joy?

What are your favorite foods? How would you like to care for yourself and your family during this time? Who do you want to spend more (or less) time with? How can you make that possible? What nourishes you mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually during the holiday season? What depletes you? What takes away from your holiday joy, from the meaning of the season (e.g., following certain people on social media; subscribing to certain weight-centric magazines)? What reminds you of what’s important?

Remember, you are free to celebrate the holidays on your own terms. Remember you are free to live life on your own terms, too. Which might mean no dieting, no “clean” eating, no stepping on the scale. Which might mean focusing on what nourishes you. Which might mean letting yourself savor what you need and what you want. Because you make up the rules. You. You are the boss. Let your holiday and your life reflect that.

Photo by Brooke Cagle on Unsplash.