It's a Wonderful Life! Breaking Free from the 3 R's to Thrive This Holiday Season

It's a Wonderful Life!

Breaking Free from the 3 R’s to Thrive This Holiday Season

“Everything in moderation, even moderation.” One of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever received. First, I’ll do you a favor and tell you that this is NOT a survival guide for strategies and rules to sail through the coming months without giving in to the yummy deliciousness of the holidays. I have spent my early adulthood creating rule after rule for myself. Rules for nutrition and exercise, rules to enhance my career, rules for relationships, and even rules for being more mindful (this one makes me chuckle)!

For me personally, I have come to learn that the 3 R’s and I don’t mix well. I am talking about RULES, RIGIDITY and RESTRICTION. Not only do we not jive well, the 3 R’s once ruled my life. I will be the first to tell you that I have spent way too much precious time grasping onto the 3 R’s to gain some sense of control, which only sent me through a vicious spiraling cycle.

Can I be blunt and honest with you? Life is too damn short.

Life is too damn short to fight yourself, to try and go against the natural fluidity of life (you will never win), to seek perfectionism, and to surround yourself with rules that will only end up making you feel miserable, lonely, discontent, and even more out of control.

Bueller said it the best...


The holiday season is approaching and I will let you in on a little fitness/nutrition industry secret. Sadly, the industry makes copious amounts of money taking advantage of you during the holidays. You are busy, you are stressed, you are spending money that you may not have, and you are rushing around like a chicken with your head cut off. This all makes you feel out of control. And, if you are like must human beings, it is a natural reaction to grasp onto something tangible that will make you feel more in control. We know when you’ve become just a little more vulnerable, and we prey on you. “Join a 6-week boot camp to fight fat this holiday season,” “Buy this supplement to fight food cravings,” “Try this 30 day diet to stay in your skinny jeans through Christmas,” “Run our turkey trot to burn calories before your Thanksgiving dinner....” I could go on and on, but you get the point. Nice, huh? NO WAY! As wellness professionals, we are SUPPOSED to be dedicating our lives to helping you thrive in mind, body, and spirit...

So, before you start to strategize on how you are going to sail through the holiday season by possibly using the 3 R’s to manipulate your nourishment and/or movement, can I please tell you in my personal experience, using the 3 R’s during the holidays has left me feeling:

-       Miserable
-       Isolated and distant from my loved ones
-       Exhausted from over thinking
-       Jealous
-       Guilty
-       Out of control because being too in control, backfired

Personally, I think my mom makes the best homemade gravy in the entire world. The dinner rolls always come out of the oven warm (she has the timing down to a science), and my grandmother’s candied sweet potato casserole gives any Halloween candy a run for its money (with the exception of Almond Joys). Laughter booms through the house, kids and dogs are running around frantically, and delicious food is being enjoyed. Sounds lovely, right? It should, IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE!

However, in previous years, my struggle with perfection and all-or-nothing thinking has severely gotten in the way of enjoying everything that the holidays have to share! A Thanksgiving Day in my early adulthood went a bit like this: refuse appetizers to not overdo it before dinner (even though they looked and smelled marvelous), get to dinner and load my plate with greens, protein, and healthful carbs (as instructed by articles, books, blogs, colleagues), and take a tiny portion of something that looked good but was not “healthful” to me in my eyes. Then I would eat my healthful meal like a good-girl and entertain compliments of “Wow, you are so mindful, I could never eat so healthfully on Thanksgiving.” Meanwhile, I would begin to sense a feeling of resentment for my cousin, as he enjoyed a piece of delicious homemade pumpkin pie. I would catch myself thinking, “Mindful? I wish I could let go a little bit and enjoy this incredible meal with this amazing company!” After resisting a glass of wine for the third time, I would surrender. Then, as I finished my glass of wine, my inhibitions (which I had built higher than the sky) would begin to come down at a rapid rate. Can you guess how this usually ended, my friends? Yep, you got it! I ended up overindulging, which made me feel even more out of control and sent me through a spiraling emotional battle with myself.

Perhaps you are reading this and cannot relate to using the 3 R’s with nourishment and/or movement. In my opinion, it is a natural instinct for human beings to grasp onto things that they can control with the intent to bring order and stability to their lives. So, before you discount this article, please ask yourself if you utilize the 3 R’s in other areas of your life (ex. career, relationships)? Ah ha! I thought so.


The 3 R’s (Restriction, Rigidity and Rules)
Negative Feelings

Not Being Mindful and Not Listening to my Gut

Unhappiness/Discontent/Feeling out of Control

The 3 R’s

Here are a few take-home points for you for this holiday season, so that you may be able to feel present and wonderful while creating blessed memories with your loved ones. 

  •  Being rigid and creating too many rules with the intent to gain control and power, will do exactly the opposite. What IS more powerful? I think it’s adopting a life of fluidity, moderation, and mindfulness.
  • Drop the fundamental hope that there is a "BETTER YOU" who one day will emerge and choose to love yourself completely just as you are. Stick it out with yourself.
  • Be resilient, patient, loving, and kind to yourself and to others
  • Surround yourself with people, places, and things that can offer YOU the same kind of resilience, love, patience, and kindness. And have the courage to walk away from people, places and things that don't work for you anymore, or maybe never really did.
  • “Everything in moderation, even moderation"
  • Tell the people that you love, that you love them, and not JUST during the holidays. It is never too much, and it is never too late.

We only have this one, short, but beautifully precious and miraculous chance at life. Enjoy it. Savor it. Live it.

I’ll let Mr. Bailey and Clarence carry us out...

Erin M. Kershaw, M.S., ACSM-HFS
Wellness Director, The Edge Fitness Center at the Ascutney Mountan Resort