Dec 2014

Family, Food and the Holidays: Your guide to feeling grounded, loving and less insane than last year.

This is a loaded time of year. Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah (or both, like us), Kwanzaa or Winter Solstice there is A LOT going on. There is so much joy, magic and giving but do you ever feel like (as Taylor Swift would say) that the holidays are a nightmare dressed as a day dream?

As I was flipping through my favorite magazines and websites, there are so many holiday survival guides out there giving support on shopping, how to switch up eggnog for spiced almond milk or what to wear to all of your holiday parties.

But when I talk to my friends and clients, those are not the things bringing up the most anxiety. I’ve been hearing things like:

Look, I get that I shouldn’t eat a ton of cookies, but I just can’t help myself.

I’ve decided not to go home for the holidays this year because it’s too stressful being with my parents.

Whenever I go home, all I ever do is eat, it’s like a completely new person takes over my body.

The last thing I need is my family asking me if I’m dating anyone.

Food and Family, those are the hot buttons. So this year, in order to make sure you have the most fun, grounded and relaxing holiday ever, I want to give you my Food and Family Holiday Survival guide.




1. Let’s just be honest with each other, this is not the time you are going to miraculously hate cookies. The eating patterns that you’ve had your whole life are not going to shift that much during Christmas. It’s like sending an alcoholic to a bar after their first AA meeting and expecting them not to drink. Cut yourself some slack.

2. Wouldn’t you rather gain five pounds than feel insane every time you go to a party? For me, going to party and not drinking or vowing to not eat any sugar is not fun. And what can happen is that when we go in with those expectations, we buckle under the pressure and then eat an entire plate of sugar cookies (because we f**ked up anyways). For me, I rather enjoy two or three cookies and know that I am going to gain some weight as a result of having all that extra flour and sugar for a few weeks. I also know that come January I am going to be excited to get back into my normal routine.

3. But you can’t stop at two cookies you say? No problem, I’ve got you covered. The reason why most of us can’t stop after a cookie or two is because we’re so busy berating ourselves for eating a cookie that we miss the experience of eating a cookie, and then we want another one. I can’t believe you just picked up that cookie, well you can’t put it down, just eat it you fatty. You promised yourself you weren’t going to eat any sugar, you fat, gross slob. Now your mother is going to comment on how you’ve gained weight, that hot guy in the corner is definitely not interested now, everyone is looking at you eating this calorie packed fat snack and thinking ‘doesn’t she care about her body at all? She really needs to lose some weight and that is definitely not helping.”

Then you finish eating the cookie and can’t even remember what it tasted like and if it was good because you were so distracted by your mind bullying you, so you pick up another one and the cycle continues.

Instead, I want you to pick up the cookie and taste how amazing it is. Say to yourself, I’m eating this cookie now, and this means nothing about who I am as a person. I am allowed to eat cookies. This cookie is delicious! It’s sweet and crumbly, I should get the recipe in case I want to make them again! And since you have the option of making them again, you can stop at two because this isn’t your last opportunity to eat these cookies.


4. The last piece is to focus on how you feel, not how you look. Do I care about you looking perfect all season long? Of course not. Do I care about you feeling amazing? Hell yes. We spend so much time worried about what we look like that we forget to tune into how we feel. Will eating 4 cookies make us look different? Nope. Will it make us feel shitty? Yep. Start to pay attention to how you feel during and after eating and prioritize feeling good by the end of that party. Imagine falling into bed not feeling bloated or jittery and waking up with out a hangover, blissful.



There are entire books written on family dynamics and there could be so much to cover here, but I believe that the one thing that can drive us crazy or bring us peace is how we handle the unending slew of questions we face when we go home for the holidays…

When are you going to get a job? Are you dating anyone? Isn’t that skirt a little short? When are you going to stop breastfeeding? When are you going to get pregnant, I want grandchildren!? Well, don’t you think he’d stop acting out if you were home more?

I know these questions can feel super rude and obnoxious, but the reality is that the only reason these interviews feel invasive is because YOU are not grounded in your own life. Imagine your grandmother asks you something you feel very sure and confident about like, do you like spaghetti? Yes. That was easy. No emotion, just reporting.

Now imagine if talking about your love life (or lack there of) was that easy. What would need to be true about how you feel about your love life? First, you need to be clear on what you want. Are you happy to be single? Do you wish you were with someone? Has it been hard for you? Do you feel peace around it? And what have you been doing about it? Have you been actively dating and doing your best? Are you holding back and feel mad at yourself for not being out there more? Take some time to identify what questions you are dreading most (yes, now. It will only take five minutes) and do some exploring. Are you happy with this area of your life? If so, why? Or why not? Are you moving in the direction of shifting this area? What steps do you want to take to make this area feel more aligned? Please do some writing, you are going to feel so amazing just doing this status report.



Now, when your aunt asks you if you’re dating someone, what you are probably hearing is your own internal monologue of, I know you’re not dating enough, and you should be, so when are you going to get out there you lazy, unconfident spinster. But that’s not what she’s saying, she is probably just curious and loves you and wants you to be happy.

So instead of answering with a short and snippy “fine” and then going off and getting pissed that everyone is putting this pressure on you, think about how you really feel and and answer honestly…Well, I’m not dating anyone, and I wish I was. I’ve been going on some dates, but to be honest, I could probably stand to go on a few more, but I just feel shy. BUT I’m planning on signing up for Sarah Jenks’s program, Live More Weigh Less this spring, so I know that’s going to help with the confidence piece. Or something like that ;).

You will feel so empowered, so grounded and so “I’ve got my shit together” by just being honest.

Now I want to hear from you. What are you going to concentrate on this holiday season to make it amazing? And, what are your food and family survival tips?

Know someone who could benefit from these tips? Share it below. And don’t forget to sign up for email updates. I always give a little life update and extra lovin’ in my emails.

Happy Christmahanukwanzukkah!







Images by Bess Friday.

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  • Hi Sarah! AWESOME post! I wanted to leave a little tip about the traveling that you mentioned in your email updates–I use exercise to help my body get on track when I’m traveling to Europe. I went for a walk/jog every morning when we were in Italy, and that helped my body “wake up” and signal that the day was starting (not to mention I saw some gorgeous sights that I would have otherwise missed). I also used some melatonin to help at night for the first day or two. I was on Italy time in just a few days, no problem. Happy and safe travels!! Have a great holiday with your family!




  • Oops… I didn’t realize my CAPS LOCK was on (thought it was your web template) (and I’ve been working on a project that requires ALL CAPS). haha. Anyway… I did not mean to SCREAM that last comment at you. teehee. 🙂

  • Thanks for sharing all of the beautiful photos. You are gorgeous and so inspiring! It is hard feeling beautiful when it seems like the world says you have to be a size 2 to be beautiful. Since following your blog I have realized what it is to truly love myself at any size. Thank you! P.S. Marshall is adorable 🙂

    • Sarah Jenks

      Thank you CJ. I think he is just the cutest. We all go through different phases with our bodies and being able to love her and accept her at any size is huge. I’m so proud ofyou for getting to this point. xo

  • Your *new* website is beautiful! Your *new* message is even more so, and your baby boy is beyond adorable! Thanks for bringing empowering body confidence to women everywhere! I’m a huge fan!

    • Sarah Jenks

      Thank you Lori. I’m so happy you’re here.

  • Sarah

    I am not going home this year, but I still find the holidays a challenge. I usually put a lot of pressure on myself to make the holidays perfect for my kids (8 & 11). When they get upset or fight I often find myself frantically snacking or eating to distract or soothe myself (this is all the time, not just the holidays). I want to go into the holidays with the full knowledge that they will NOT be perfect. My kids will fight, or cry over some frustration or disappointment, and it is OK. And I want to eat a lot of delicious food, but I want to do it mindfully – not to escape. I need a holiday mantra – maybe “Together, Safe and Healthy.” That I will repeat several times a day – proactively and as needed. I hope it works!

    On the time difference with London, just let Marshall sleep when he’s tired and stay up when he’s not. You can’t really fight it. You will likely spend some time awake when you’d rather be asleep. Lean on your family so you get naps if you need them during the day.

    • Sarah Jenks

      Thank you for the travel tips Sarah and I love that mantra. Keep us posted on how things go. And when you feel the ure to eat, take a moment to think about why you are eating and if it’s not because you are hungry, try to tune in and see what you really need and what can fill that void besides food. xo

  • Gorgeous photos, beautiful article, Sarah!! Have a blast in jolly ol’ London xo

    • Sarah Jenks

      Thank you Jen. We’re really looking forward to it.

  • Jenn

    I totally agree with all of this! And Marshall is adorable. In response to your question from the email: the best way I’ve found to fight jet lag is just to get on the other location’s schedule as soon as possible. Even if you arrive there exhausted; try your best to stay up until later in the evening so that your biological clock can get on the correct schedule. In doing this I’ve never had more than one day of jet lag, and even then it was somewhat mild. Good luck!

    • Sarah Jenks

      Great advice Jenn. Thank you!

    • Loan N

      I totally agree with this travel advice… Plus Tylenol pm on the first night to help you sleep a full eight hours. Otherwise your internal clock might wake you up even if you’re exhausted.

  • Melissa Todd

    Hi Sarah,
    What a great post, and what a great insight into why it can be hard to handle the family questions. As for travel with a baby (Marshall is adorable by the way!), I bet the daylight savings time strategy would work. You might try slowly shifting Marshall a bit now, so it’s not such a big change. Just by 30 min each day. I think trying to keep him up when he’s exhausted would be hard. But, I also think babies can shift easier than us! Have fun!

  • Julia

    Hi Sarah, beautiful website! For dealing with time zone changes there’s a great homeopathic pack called “Jet Zone” that you can get at any big natural food place. The herbs in it help your body adjust and not feel so wacky when you land! Also, Wish Garden herbs makes great tinctures and they have a small sized kit for traveling. Both have worked tremendously for me when I travel across time zones! Have a great trip and happy holidays! 🙂

  • Such a helpful post! Thank you Sarah! Ever since LMWL last fall I feel so much more confident and calm around food. “We spend so much time worried about what we look like that we forget to tune into how we feel.” This method has truly been a guiding start for me this past year. Going with what feels good…it’s so freeing!
    Now the family piece is my next path to take. It feels so much easier to remember that me feeling uncomfortable is because I’m not feeling in full enlightenment with some aspects of my life, it’s not my family “picking on me” but to reflect on those and being open to share how I’m really feeling sounds so nice.
    Thank you again and Happy Holidays! PS these photos are beyond adorable 🙂

  • Sarah! Your new website design looks ah-mazing. And this post just indicates the brilliant posts to come!
    Loving my body and intuitive eating are a big focus for me in 2015, and I’m going to start with your holiday advice – focusing on how I feel, not on how I look. Thanks and happy holidays!

  • I have to say, this year was the first that I truly enjoyed the holiday party. That I really did let go and let myself enjoy the treats I like without binging on them. I moved everyday, even if it wasn’t my standard workout regime. I did so many things that I can be proud of and I truly feel that LMWL, and the doors it opened to me was the push that helped me get there.

Sarah Jenks

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