Holistic Health: Eat the Cookie, Skip the Expectations

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Somewhere years ago someone said to me, “If you expect nothing you won’t get disappointed.”  At the time I thought it jaded and negative. But now I see the wisdom behind it.

Thank you, whoever you were.

During the holidays we fret about all the unhealthy food, drinks, and skipped workouts. Gaining 5 pounds over the holidays would be horrible right? I’ve always been of the mind that focusing on the negative of what you can’t have during the holidays is an unhealthy way to deal with the onslaught of feasts. After years of experiencing all kinds of strategies to deal with the holidays, along with a gazillion suggestions from experts and gurus, I’m convinced all our indulging isn’t really the unhealthiest part of the season.

If only the holidays were like fantasy football

Unlike fantasy football, we don’t get to pick who’s on our team. Some get a team of just the loveliest of family members. But we all seem to have one of those stories to share about a get-together that went bad. But maybe the problem isn’t the family we have.

Maybe the problem is the expectations and wanting the perfect family.

My daughters and I had this discussion recently. We were doing the “wouldn’t it be great if” and “if only we could” conversation. I realized that probably most of my life I wished for things to be a certain way — the fantasy of the house filled with lots of family members, wonderful smells from cooking hearty meals, and loud laughter and boisterous chatting while everyone enjoyed each other’s company, grateful and happy. I kept looking for that holiday, waiting for it to happen. We try and try to make people fit our fantasy and we’re in love with the idea of a movie-like holiday experience. And when we don’t get it, we’re deeply disappointed.

Part of a healthy lifestyle is taking care of our emotional selves. Being unhealthy emotionally manifests itself physically in ways we might not even realize. We can make unhealthy choices in picking the wrong partner, career, friends, places we live — along with food and exercise.

Stress effects your whole being. Stress has negative effects on your



Teeth and Gums







Immune System

For me, when I avoid trying to change things I can’t and work on positive changes I can make in my own life, I notice I begin to experience peace. I can physically feel the stress leaving my body and a sense of well-being come over me. I notice I crave fewer unhealthy foods and feel energized to do physical activity. But it’s a daily exercise and a mental muscle that I need to work on continually. By giving up control and expectations, I begin to enjoy and be grateful for what I have, and I don’t find myself trying to fabricate the fantasy. That peace gained is contagious and spreads to the inner circle of family and friends.

The healthiest holiday is the one filled with peace inside us. Inside is the place where all positive change ignites and motivates us to make daily healthy choices that benefit our total selves. What’s inside, whether bad our good, will always manifest itself on the outside.

Is peace something you seek? Does it seem elusive? What steps can we make that create peace in our lives?








  1. Katdoesdiets says:

    when I avoid trying to change things I can’t and work on positive changes I can make in my own life, I notice I begin to experience peace” YES!! I have to remind myself of this often

  2. it’s so so simple but has been a great deal of help to me: I let go of what I cant control and remind myself I can only control my reactions to people—not the people.

  3. Jody - Fit at 54 says:

    I love this Joyce!!! Even though I had a great family as I grew up, I still had some fantasy thoughts about how it all should be…. kind of follows you into adult life too. It took me way too many years to decide to just move forward & let go of those things I can’t control or change or do anything about. I am still a work in progress but I am so much better.


    Thank you! AND, thank you for your “welcome” to me on my post today!

    • Hi Jody 🙂 Thanks & you’re so welcome! Was so happy to see you on twitter! 

      The thoughts do follow you into adult life yes! I found that to be true in so many kinds of relationships. The expectations can ruin a good thing. It’s a daily exercise for sure! 🙂 

  4. Kristin Østevik says:

    Great blogpost!

  5. Love this.  My husband and I were recently talking about the stress that comes with things we can’t change right now.  I’m going to focus on things I can control this year….I’ve got plenty in that basket anyway.  🙂  Happy New Year to you!

  6. Bravo! Instead of whining about what can’t be changed, focus on what you can change or improve-and be grateful for what’s going right. I’m always up for positive posts like this.

  7. Excellent advice!  As a natural born pessimist, I excel at keeping expectations low, so that’s no problem.  But learning to dwell on the positives is something that’s taken a long time to learn… but it’s so damn rewarding!  I find I still slip and have tantrums, but am moving more easily into finding the joy in even seemingly crappy life events.  Good thing, ’cause as we get older those get harder and harder to avoid!

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