Self-discipline around food over Tet can be particularly tricky with social and family events throughout the holiday period. As a personal trainer who has trained Olympic athletes, special forces, special operations from different military units and the general public, I know first-hand that even the most highly disciplined person can still fall off the wagon around the festive holiday season without having a big enough reason and specific goals to stay on track.
A recent American website study stated that 18% of people during the holidays said that it was very hard to have the self-discipline to eat healthy food during the festive season because they didn’t want to miss out on all the food they loved to eat during this time. Enjoying Tet parties isn’t about learning new Wonder Woman willpower, self-control skills and denying yourself of your favourite party food. You can still avoid holiday weight gain and indulge in your favourite food, as long as you are mindful about your eating.
A global study in 2017 stated that Vietnam had the lowest rate of adult obesity with only 1% of Vietnamese adults being obese but childhood obesity is on the rise with Saigon and Hanoi having the highest number of overweight children. In 1996, the prevalence of childhood obesity in Hanoi and Saigon was only 12%. According to latest reports it has jumped to 50%. Children tend to mirror their parent’s eating behavioural patterns, so it’s not just about developing self-discipline and a healthy relationship around food for yourself, but also being an example for your children.
Below are my two tips for developing self-discipline to control your eating during Tet.
Resist Temptation With ‘Why’
Finding your big ‘Why’ becomes powerful motivation to resist temptation and maintain self-discipline around food during Tet. This is why with your health and fitness plan, it’s vital from the beginning to set out very specific short, mid and long-term achievable goals.
It’s not enough to say “I want to lose weight by summer”. This isn’t specific enough and nor does it provide enough emotional motivation to achieve self-discipline around Tet. No matter how much self-discipline you think you possess you can’t make yourself resist temptation if you haven’t given yourself a big enough reason. If you changed this vague wish to “I want to lose 10 pounds by summer so I can wear a bikini on my beach vacation to Da Nang,” that is a far better specific goal.
Your Social Circle
Various studies about obesity suggest your social influence is a major factor when it comes to self-discipline around eating. Renowned American motivational speaker Jim Rohn once said we are the average of the five people we spend the most time with.
American performance coach Jairek Robbins says: “Every person you meet in life is either a warning or an example — a warning of what not to do or an example of what to do.”
Think about who you surround yourself with when it comes to Tet. Does your social circle and family encourage and support you to make positive choices when it comes to food and responsible drinking? Or do they challenge your willpower and negatively influence your eating habits? Finding a social circle that is like-minded with similar interests in eating well and exercising regularly will encourage you to keep on track with your own self-discipline to control your eating habits.
Tet isn’t about depriving yourself by banning all your favourite treats in sight. This can become counterproductive in the end as it can lead to overeating and food cravings later. If you really want that cake and a glass of wine don’t feel like you are losing self-control over your diet by giving in.
Just be mindful of your holiday eating along with reminding yourself of your long-term health and fitness goal and the big “Why”, as that one slice of chocolate cake isn’t going to tip the scale. It’s all about moderation with an occasional indulgence.
Amazin is a Prana Samyana meditation Yin Yoga teacher and performance coach having trained Olympic athletes to special forces. She is also a former natural competitive bodybuilder and the first Vietnamese internationally published health and fitness author and DNA fitness trainer. For more info, click on amazinlethi.com and amazinlethifoundation.org.