How to Stay Focused on Health Despite the Temptations of Super Bowl Sunday and Valentine’s Day
By Christine Fox, PA-C, NBC-HWC
"The chief cause of failure and unhappiness is trading what we want most for what we want at the moment." – Zig Ziglar
February is Heart Health Awareness Month. This is the month when our country spotlights heart disease, the number one killer of Americans. This may be even more important in our current year as we continue to navigate the COVID-19 global pandemic.
Throughout nearly a year of social distancing, many have taken advantage of great opportunities to improve their health and well-being. Yet, many have encountered additional challenges which have, instead, led to a significant decline in lifestyle behaviors. Contributing further are the popular upcoming celebratory events of the 55th Super Bowl, followed one week later by Valentine’s Day. During this period, it is critical to hold dear our highest priorities and to increase our understanding of how to live our best lives according to these.
Prioritize health and safety. This year is different. This year has taught us even more to value health as we watch the effects of the pandemic around the globe. Guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and health organization leaders recommend continued celebration of events at home with people who you live with. “Watch the game. Enjoy the game. But do it with people in your own household,” states Dr. Fauci. Each one of us needs to objectively weigh the risks and benefits of options to celebrate, placing highest priority on the safety of ourselves and all others involved. How does the evaluated risk level align with possible long-term effects of the event? Might this be the year for take out and celebrations at home? Or including others by text group or video call? If you decide upon get togethers with people outside your home, read up on recommended precautions, including not sharing food, utilizing the outdoors (think heaters and/or firepits!), and avoiding alcohol which may make you less likely to follow COVID-19 safety measures and increase unhealthy food choices and overconsumption of food.
Utilize social support. Whether you attend a gathering or celebrate within your own home, pick one or two people who you believe could best support you. Take the time to identify specifically what you believe they could do or say that could positively affect your actions and health for the day. Perhaps they could remind you of your reasons to stay healthy during the event, or maybe you would find it helpful if they agreed to not offer you a second beer. Have a conversation with them prior to the event and discuss your request(s).
Remember what you’ve learned. Is there a holiday or event in the past you remember being successful keeping your goals? How did you go about doing this? Is there anything you learned that you could apply to these upcoming events?
Prioritize quality time. Shuffling kids to and from activities or travel time to and from the office may have decreased recently, yet you may still find yourself as busy as ever. Despite being around those in your “bubble” more often, you may have found quality time to still be lacking. Use these celebratory opportunities to focus on what you value most. Just as people sometimes strive to turn the focus away from gifts over holidays, consider turning the focus away from food and toward those special people in your life. Take this opportunity to treasure uninterrupted family and friend time.
Develop a vision statement. If you have had the opportunity to partner with a health coach, you have likely spent time identifying your own personal “vision statement” or your core underlying desires for your wellness that are deeply important to you as an individual. Spend some time reviewing this or creating your first one. Your care team can assist you in ensuring this is meaningful for you. Try asking yourself a series of “Why?” questions. Each time you ask yourself, you get closer to your core drivers. Once you identify your motivation, write it down. Use a notecard or type it into your phone. Keep it available for frequent reference. Say it out load and possibly even share this with a trusted friend. Keep close access to this during social events or other occurrences that you find tempting.
Think ahead. Nurture motivation by envisioning yourself reaching your goals for the day. How do you imagine feeling? How would you see yourself? Even better, envision yourself carrying out your action goals for yourself. Research shows this primes us for higher chance of success.
Talk with your partner. Dreading the calories coming? Talk with your partner beforehand about expectations for gifts for your special day. Perhaps you would like to agree to avoid sugary foods. What else is meaningful for you both instead? Brainstorm together some fun, safe and healthful activities that you would enjoy together – perhaps a favorite recipe in the kitchen or a gratitude walk in the outdoors.
Limit the celebration length. Valentine’s Day is just that – one day. If you desire to gift a treat to your loved one, limit the serving size to address the day’s celebration only. For example, a single-serving take-out dessert from their favorite restaurant in town may be just as appreciated as a whole box of chocolates.
Apply your personal strengths. What are some of your personal strengths that you can apply during these events? Are you persistent when it comes to getting things you want? Is being present and engaged for your future grandchildren a strong motivator for you to pull on? Use these to your full advantage!
Make your home a team. Pick a time to discuss the strengths of each person, goals of your team, how each member will support the other household members, and methods and dates to celebrate your success.
Create SMART goals. Create specific goals for yourself that are both challenging and realistic. Use details! For example, instead of “I won’t overindulge this Sunday,” set a goal of “I will take a minute to appreciate each of my family members when I feel tempted to have a second slice of pizza,” or “I will talk with my spouse tonight after dinner to brainstorm some fun activities outside for Valentine’s Day.”
Keep a positive mindset. Keep the big picture in mind. We’re all on a journey. Remember to view any setbacks as learning experiences that put you in a stronger place to move forward. Look long-term and maintain confidence in attaining your goals!
For some recipe ideas to help keep your Super Bowl celebration and Valentine’s Day heart healthy, visit joybauer.com. Joy appears on NBC’s TODAY with easy, delicious and nutritious alternatives.
And perhaps, as you’re facing all the calorie- and sugar-ridden temptations of Super Bowl Sunday and Valentine’s Day, it may help to remember the words of Will Rogers--"The road to success is lined with many tempting parking spaces."
Christine Fox is a coaching and wellness manager for Everside Health, which was created from the merger of Paladina Health, Activate Healthcare and Healthstat.