Done with Dieting Episode #153: Holiday Health Bare Minimums

Bare Minimums

Haven’t we all been there? Trapped in the holiday chaos, stretching ourselves too thin to cater to everyone else’s needs, but ours? 

This episode peels back the layers on a game-changing strategy for the holidays – the idea of bare minimums. These are small, easy changes that can keep us sane and healthy amidst the festive frenzy. 

I debunk the myth that the holiday season is just another time of the year and expose the invisible workload that often accompanies this special period. I aim to ensure you don’t vanish into the to-do list. 

I then dig deeper into the bare minimum concept during the holiday season. These are non-negotiable habits that serve as your health safety net while keeping you grounded amid the holiday whirlwind. I lay out practical tips to establish and maintain these personal habits, no matter how wild things get. 

I wrap up the episode and shed light on the importance of integrating these bare minimums into your holiday routine. I share insights on how to ensure these habits stick and how to leverage personal motivations to stay on track. I also serve up tips on how to make the holidays slightly easier and get the most out of your downtime. 

Trust me, prioritizing your health and well-being during the festive season is crucial, and finding the right balance amidst the holiday bustle is possible. Tune in and let’s navigate this holiday season together healthier and saner.

Chapter Summaries

Navigating the Holidays (0:00:07)

Identify non-negotiable habits to navigate holiday chaos, prioritize love and connection, and create bare minimums for sanity and health.

The Importance of Bare Minimums (0:07:47)

I emphasize the importance of bare minimums to stay healthy during the holidays and discuss their power to maintain balance.

Setting and Sticking to Holiday Minimalism (0:14:25) 

Create bare minimums this holiday season with practical tips, eight basic habits, pitfalls to watch out for, and self-kindness.

Holiday Health (0:26:04) 

We prioritize health and well-being, discuss ways to make habits stick, and share tips to make the holidays easier.

Are you loving the podcast, but arent sure where to start? click here to get your copy of the Done with Dieting Podcast Roadmap Its a fantastic listening guide that pulls out the exact episodes that will get you moving towards optimal health.

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What You’ll Learn from this Episode

  • Gain insights into the significance of establishing and adhering to bare minimums during the holiday season, learning how to navigate and prioritize self-care amidst the often overwhelming festive expectations.
  • Discover the importance of tailoring your bare minimums for the holiday season, recognizing that individual needs vary, and gaining insights into creating a customized approach that suits your unique circumstances and time constraints.
  • How bare minimums in self-care go beyond checklists, serving as a personalized way to prioritize well-being during the busy holiday season, emphasizing self-worth, navigating distractions, and avoiding burnout with a realistic approach.

Listen to the Full Episode:

Full Episode Transcript:

Ever find yourself burnt out, stressed, and neglecting your health because you’re chasing some sort of holiday fantasy? I’ve got a game changing strategy for you today.

The concept of bare minimums. We are talking about how to make small, easy changes that’ll keep you from unraveling during the holiday chaos. Skip this episode and you will miss out on the secret sauce for staying sane and healthy while juggling these holiday commitments.

Trust me, you do not want to go another holiday season without this. So, stick around, this one is one you can’t afford to miss.

Welcome to the Done With Dieting Podcast, where it’s all about designing the life, you want in midlife. I’m your host, Elizabeth Sherman, a master certified life and health coach, personal trainer, nutritionist, feminist coach, and specialist in women’s hormones.

Are you tired of scales, food logs, and strict diets? Struggling with hormonal symptoms and the challenges of aging, changing relationships, and entering the next phase of your life? You have come to the right place.

Here, we talk about food freedom, nurturing a better relationship with your body, and feeling great again. All without the weight of traditional dieting methods.

Through a mix of solo podcasts and conversations with industry experts, I’m here to guide you towards a healthier, happier you.

Join me as we explore ways to look and feel better and strive for optimal health regardless of where you are in your journey. But more importantly, to reclaim control, confidence, and joy in this beautiful stage of life.

This is the Done With Dieting podcast. Let’s dive in.

Hey everyone, welcome back to the podcast and the third episode of the holiday health series. Today, we are tackling a trap that most of us fall into thinking that we have to do it all especially during the holidays.

You know, the holidays can be this dazzling stressful whirlwind, right? Between family gatherings, office parties, and the never ending list of things to do, it’s easy to lose yourself in the chaos.

So, today, we’re cutting through all of the noise and talking about something super down to earth, but game changing. Bare minimums. These are the things that I talk about with my clients in our work together and in the Feel Good Sisterhood.

Now, you might be wondering, what the heck are bare minimums? Well, they’re like your health safety net. Those non-negotiable habits that you can stick with even when life turns into a roller coaster, especially during the holiday season.

So, why is this topic so crucial? Well, here’s what happens. During the holidays, we often set ourselves up for failure. We pile on these unrealistic expectations about keeping up with our usual routines. Oh, I’ll still totally get my workouts in. I’ll eat super clean even though, my kitchen is going to have chocolate and cookies all over the place.

We make these promises to ourselves and then life happens. Extra errands, weekend parties, and the invisible workload that you didn’t even see coming. But here’s the kicker. You don’t need to be the holiday superhero. No one is handing out medals for that. And trust me, stretching yourself thin isn’t going to do anyone favors.

So, listen up, if your family loves you, for you and your impeccable table settings, and five course meals. Then, maybe it’s time to rethink what love and connection are really all about. Because you are so much more than your to do list. You are not a human doing, you’re a human being.

So, let’s just get brutally honest today about what we can and cannot realistically manage without running ourselves into the ground. We’re about to break down what bare minimums are? Why they’re a lifesaver during the holidays? And how you can identify your own?

By the end of this episode, you will have a whole new perspective on how to navigate the holiday season without losing yourself in the process. So, let’s start out by dispelling the notion that we all buy into, right?

The idea that we can totally handle the holiday season just like any other time of year. You know what I’m talking about, right? You walk into November thinking, Oh, it’s the holidays. It’s no big deal. I’ve totally got this. And you genuinely believe that you’ll stick to your regular eating plan. You’ll hit the gym, light clockwork, and juggle all of the holiday stuff like a pro.

But let’s do some truth telling here. It’s like setting yourself up for an Olympic event that you’ve never trained for. See, the holidays sneak up on us with hidden commitments that we never see coming. I’m not just talking about the parties and dinners.

There’s this thing called the invisible workload that piles up like unwashed dishes in the sink. It’s all the planning, the shopping, the cooking, and the cleaning, and the stuff that doesn’t just happen by magic. You’re wrapping gifts at midnight or remembering at the 11th hour that you promised to bake cookies for your kid’s school party. Not to mention all of the emotional labor, like managing family dynamics or striving to create that picture perfect holiday moment.

And guess what? Most of that workload usually falls on you. So, what happens? You end up completely burned out. You’re tired, you’re cranky, and your usual habits, they get thrown out the window, right?

That morning run that you swore you’d keep up with gets bumped for a last minute grocery run because you forgot the cranberry sauce. Or your carefully planned meals, they are replaced by quick bites of whatever is at arms each. And let’s not even talk about sleep. That’s usually the first thing that gets sacrificed on the altar of the holiday chaos, right?

Here’s where it gets tricky. You think that you’re doing it all out of love and connection. But who says that love has to be exhausting? Who says connection is about running yourself ragged? That’s not love. That’s a recipe for resentment. If the people around, you equate your worth with what you can do for them. Well, they need to get a reality check.

Remember, you’re not less lovable if the pie is store bought or if the holiday cards go out late, or never. So, before we go any further, can we just agree on something?

This holiday season, give yourself permission to drop the act, to drop the should, to drop all of the obligation. You are not in a holiday rom com, and you don’t need to be. Let’s focus on what you can actually manage without compromising your well-being.

Okay, so what do I mean when I say bare minimums? If you’ve been tuning in to this podcast, you may remember episode number 45, where I break this down. For those of you who might have missed it, bare minimums are your baseline habit. They are your bottom line practices that you commit to no matter what chaos the universe throws your way.

You know, the things that you can do even when you are running on fumes or short on time. They are your health’s best friend forever. Always there, super dependable, and they never let you down. Here’s why these are so crucial.

It’s super important to identify a few bare minimums. And these bare minimums are non-negotiable. They are the habits that are so ingrained in your routine that they are almost automatic. They’re going to seem like they’re not enough because they are so automatic. Like, you don’t even have to think about them. You just do them.

So, maybe for you, that’s chugging a glass of water first thing in the morning. Perhaps it’s getting at least six hours of sleep at night. Or maybe, like me, you’ve got a go to salad that ensures you’re getting a healthy dose of vegetables every single day. These habits are your ride or dies, your daily wins that keep you from totally dropping the ball on your health.

And let’s make one thing super clear. Your bare minimums are going to look different from mine or anyone else’s, and that’s 100 percent okay. There is no one size fits all here.

When I work with my clients, especially as the holidays ramp up, figuring out their personal bare minimums is a big part of this strategy. What works best for one person might not work for another, and that’s not just okay, it’s totally expected.

So, if you’re a mom who has to juggle picking up the kids from school, preparing holiday meals, and making it to a seasonal gig. Maybe your bare minimum is something as simple as 10 minutes of deep breathing or a quick walk around the block.

It might not sound like much. But hey, it’s better than nothing. And for someone else, who may have a little bit more time, it could be a 30 minute workout session every other day.

The point is these bare minimums keep you grounded. They’re the anchor in a sea of holiday chaos. Even if you can’t do everything you usually do, you’re still doing something. And that’s important because the goal isn’t perfection.

Let’s chuck that notion right out the window right now. The goal is to keep you from spiraling, to keep you connected to yourself amid all the external pressure and commitments.

So, take a moment to think. What are your non negotiables? What are those tiny little habits that might not seem like a big deal, but you know that you can keep up, even when you’re swamped?

Okay, so now that you know what your bare minimums are and why they’re personalized, let’s go into the nitty gritty. Why do they work? You see, the brilliance of this technique of creating bare minimums lies in their simplicity. They’re not about pushing the envelope or breaking new ground. Not at all. They’re about holding the fort, especially when life gets crazy. Like during the holidays.

So, think of it this way, if you’ve ever played a tug of war, you know that sometimes the best strategy isn’t to pull harder, but to simply dig your heels in and hold your ground. That’s what your bare minimums are doing for you. They’re your heels digging into the soil, while everything else around you is pulling you in different directions.

You won’t get pulled into the mud pit of backsliding. Yeah, you might not win the game during the holiday season. You might not make progress moving forward to whatever your goal is. But hey, you did not lose ground. You’re not going backwards. And sometimes that’s a win in and of itself.

You maintain a level of stability that might not seem like a big deal but trust me, it is huge. Because come January, you’re not starting from square one. Regretting all the ground you’ve lost. You’re right where you left off, maybe not ahead of schedule, but definitely not behind.

So, let’s say, one of your standard practices is a 30 minute workout 5 days a week. Holiday season hits and suddenly that’s just not realistic. But instead of throwing the baby out with the bath water, you switch to 15 minute home workouts. Is it the same? No. But it’s not zero. You’re still maintaining a habit of physical activity, and you’re keeping that part of your brain activated that says, I care about my health, and I show that through regular exercise.

And don’t forget, these bare minimums keep you mentally in the game. They’re a daily reminder that you have not given up on yourself. Even when you’re swamped with holiday shopping, family visits, and work commitments. Doing these simple tasks for yourself sends a powerful message to your psyche. I matter. I am worth the effort.

Honestly, we often underestimate the power of not going backwards. In a world that glorifies constant progress and hustle, just maintaining can feel like a rebellious act. But sometimes, standing your ground is the most empowering move you can make.

So, as you navigate this holiday maze, remember, bare minimums aren’t about cutting corners. They’re about creating a safety net for yourself. One that assures you that no matter how wild things get, you’ve got something in place that supports your well-being.

So, you’re probably wondering, okay, Elizabeth, what are your bare minimums? That’s a fair question. Let me break it down for you.

First up is sleep. Yeah, sleep is my non-negotiable. At our age, rest isn’t just about feeling refreshed. It’s the cornerstone of all our other habits. After a night of bad sleep, you are more likely to skip the gym, munch on stuff that you shouldn’t. And let’s face it, not be really pleasant to be around. So, for me, making sure that I get quality sleep is crucial.

Next is my lunchtime salad. I’m not talking about some skimpy garden salad here. I’m talking about a huge veggie packed bowl of goodness. Why? Because it’s an easy way to hit my daily quota of vegetables. This is important, y’all. We’re grownups. We should be eating our vegetables like our lives depended on it.

Because guess what? They kind of do. It’s an easy win for me and it sets the tone for the rest of the day. It’s like saying, hey, I did something really good for myself and the day is still young.

Last is water. I know water seems like a no brainer, but how many of you are chugging coffee and forgetting to hydrate. I get it, it’s easy to overlook, but it’s also an easy fix. I make sure that I’m drinking throughout the day to hit at least 60 ounces. It’s not hard, but the payoff is big. Better skin, better digestion, and let’s not forget it’s excellent for flushing out some of those holiday indulgences.

These three things might sound simple, but they are my bedrock. When all else goes haywire, I know that I’ve got my sleep, my vegetables, and my water on lock. These practices don’t take much time, but they send a clear message. I’m not up for grabs. No matter what the holiday season throws my way, these are parts of me that I keep for myself.

It’s me laying down the boundaries and saying, this is what I need to function. Everything else is negotiable, but not this. And trust me, it’s not difficult and you can have these bare minimums in place. Because when you’re stretched thin and running on empty, you’re not serving anyone, least of all yourself.

So, give yourself that gift of stability, of saying to yourself, no matter how crazy things get, I have my own back. I promise it is such a game changer for when things get busy. When you stick to your bare minimums, you are sending yourself a daily love note, a memo that says, hey, I care about me. And when you start from a place of self-care, everything else, even the holiday madness becomes a little bit more manageable.

Okay. So, hopefully by now, you’re hopefully nodding along thinking, okay, Elizabeth, I got it. Bare minimums. Cool. But how do I figure out mine? Good question. And guess what? I’ve got you covered.

First things first, let’s not make this a big deal. We’re talking about easy to maintain habits, not climbing Mount Everest. The idea is to pick things that are so super simple that you almost cannot fail. I mean, you can, but you’d really have to try.

So, what is something that you find simple? Maybe it’s taking a 10 minute walk daily. Maybe it’s throwing some spinach into your morning smoothie. For those of you feeling a little lost, let me guide you back to my free guide, ‘The 8 Basic Habits That Healthy People Do.’

I didn’t just pull these habits out of thin air. These are tried and true practices that consistently yield benefits. So, if you haven’t already, go ahead and grab that guide. Find it by going to That link will also be in the show notes. And use it as your launching pad, a place to start.

Now, once you’ve got a few potential habits in mind, here’s the fun part. Picking one to three of them as your bare minimums for this holiday season. And just a heads up, don’t go picking all eight. That’s not the point. This isn’t a holiday buffet where you pile on as much as you can. This is about selecting a few key habits that you can stick to no matter what. Because when we try to do everything, we end up doing nothing.

And so, let’s be clear. Your bare minimums are your safety net. It’s not a launching pad for guilt trips or self-flagellation. So, if you choose water, veggies, and sleep, and you hit only two out of those three one day, you don’t get to beat yourself up. You wouldn’t yell at a friend for stumbling a bit, right? So, extend yourself the same kindness.

Now, the next thing you might be wondering is, well, why only one to three habits? So, the holiday season is busy. I don’t need to tell you that. Between gift shopping, meal prep, and attending every social event known to humankind, your plate is full.

So, let’s not stack it sky high with expectations that are just going to stress you out. We’re not going for gold here. We’re going for doable, achievable habits. Remember, the goal is not to backslide, and these one to three habits can help you keep your footing.

Here’s the reality. Our lives are not static. They are fluid, ever changing, especially during the holidays. Plans change, cookies appear out of nowhere. And sometimes, that spin class that you’ve been hitting all year. Yeah, it’s going to get swapped for a holiday brunch. And that’s totally okay.

But your bare minimums, those are your constants. The baseline that helps you navigate through the noise and the nonsense.

I’m going to invite you to commit to this, right here, right now. Figure out your bare minimums, write them down if you have to. Stick them on your fridge or set reminders on your phone. And more importantly, share them with me. I would love to hear your bare minimums and how you’re planning on sticking to them through the holiday season.

This isn’t about perfection. It’s about showing up for yourself, even when the world around you is in holiday chaos. So, grab a pen, get your list, and let’s do this.

Alright. So, let’s talk about a few pitfalls. We’ve identified our bare minimums, and you’re feeling geared up. But let’s get real for a sec.

Life happens, especially during the holidays. Even with the best of intentions, sticking to those bare minimums can be super challenging. Let’s talk about some common pitfalls, and more importantly, how to dodge them like a pro.

So, first, don’t underestimate the power of social pressure. Holidays come with gatherings, and gatherings come with, guess what? Food and drink galore. One more won’t hurt, they say. But it does. Doesn’t it? Especially, when you’ve been trying to keep your sugar in check.

So, be mindful. Know your limits and stick to them. It’s not about being a party pooper, it’s about taking care of yourself. And so, if you haven’t already listened to it, check out episode 2 of the Holiday Health series, where I talk about the difference between being rude and having boundaries.

All right. Second, the ‘I’ll make it up tomorrow trap.’ Look, tomorrow is a mythical land where 99 percent of all human productivity, motivation, and self-discipline go to die. But guess what? Tomorrow gets just as swamped with unexpected twists as today. So, when you get the urge to put off your bare minimums, snap out of it. Stick to today because today is what you’ve got. Okay?

Now, here’s how to make those bare minimums non-negotiable. Connect them to how you want to feel. If your bare minimum is getting at least seven hours of sleep, think about how groggy and unproductive you feel when you don’t. Connect it to your well-being.

Remind yourself that adequate sleep equals more focus, a more energetic you. Make that emotional connection and I guarantee you; you are going to think twice before staying up for just one more episode on Netflix.

Bare minimums aren’t just some arbitrary checklist. They are your personal form of self-care during this chaotic season. When you are mindful about what you eat or how much you sleep, you’re essentially saying, I matter. When the holiday hustle tries to tell you otherwise, you can fall back on your easy, doable, bare minimums and say, Nope. I matter and this is me proving it.

The goal isn’t to juggle everything flawlessly. It’s about keeping a few key balls in the air so that the rest don’t come crashing down. It’s about not doing everything. It’s about doing something. And that something, make sure it’s tailored to you, not just some picture perfect ideal that you saw on Instagram.

You’re going to face distractions and roadblocks. No doubt about it. But instead of chucking your bare minimums out the window, be kind to yourself. Acknowledge that you are a human and cut yourself some slack. And when in doubt, just remind yourself doing something is better than doing nothing. And hey, it’s a whole lot better than trying to do everything and end up being burnt out.

So, as we navigate through this holiday season, let’s figure out how to put ourselves on the priority list. Even if it’s just a small doable way like bare minimums.

So, we’ve laid out the whole game plan here. What bare minimums are? Why they’re crucial? And how to stick to them like they’re super glue? Now, what if I told you that I have something that can make this even easier for you. Okay? Mentioned it before, but I have this amazing guide and checklist called, ‘The 8 Basic Habits That Healthy People Do.’

If you’ve already got it, then what I’m going to suggest is that you pull it out and refresh yourself. This guide will give you a concrete starting point to figure out what your own bare minimums could look like. No fluff, no overly complicated science stuff, just straight up actionable items that you can take.

And there’s even a checklist to help you track your daily progress. Because who doesn’t love crossing things off in a list, right? I mean, it gives such a dopamine hit.

This guide is designed to be your wing woman in figuring out what easy doable habits you can maintain, especially during the chaos that is the holiday season.

So, don’t wait, go to or click the link in the show notes and download your free guide. This is your go to resource to make sure that you are staying on track without getting overwhelmed.

Thank you for hanging out with me today as we talked all things bare minimum. We peeled back the layers on why thinking that you can do it all during the holidays is basically setting yourself up for a stress fest. And how opting for easy to stick to habits can help you maintain your sanity and your health.

We even dished out some solid tips on how to make those habits stick like your favorite pair of jeans. If you found today’s episode useful, don’t miss the next one in our holiday health series. We are going to tackle a topic that we all struggle with but hardly talk about.

Emotional eating during the holidays. Yeah, we’re going to talk about that. So, you are not going to want to miss it.

Have an amazing day, everyone. I will talk to you next time. Bye-bye.

Hey there, thank you so much for tuning in to this episode. Isn’t it just amazing how we can take control of our health without all the crazy diets, extreme measures, and strict rules? I think so too.

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Here’s to living our best lives and embracing this exciting stage together. See you next time!

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