Done with Dieting Episode #154: Prioritizing Yourself vs The Virtuous Caregiver

yourself vs virtuous caregiver

Are you feeling the pressure of creating the perfect holiday experience? Ready to break free from the myth of the virtuous caregiver and the associated holiday stress? 

Join me as I debunk this damaging myth and provide practical strategies to simplify your holiday agenda. I address the self-imposed and external pressures that come with the holiday season and how they can impact your health. Discover how your worth isn’t tied to your holiday hustle and why it’s vital to put your well-being back on the priority list.

Listen in as I explore the concept of creating peace and connection during the holidays. I help you identify the tasks that truly matter and those that you can strike off your holiday to-do list. Uncover how to create an anchor of desired feelings that will guide your decisions and allow you to genuinely enjoy the season. 

I also dive into the importance of prioritizing self-care during the holidays, providing you with tools to recognize when you’re feeling overwhelmed and giving you permission to step back and focus on yourself. 

Let’s redefine the holiday season and reclaim your peace, presence, and authentic joy.

Chapter Summaries

Debunking Virtuous Caregiver Myths (0:00:05)

I discuss self-imposed and external pressures, simplifying our holiday agenda, and our worth not being tied to how much we do.

Creating Peace and Connection During Holidays (0:12:14) 

Identify tasks to reduce stress and cultivate peace, calm, and connection during the holidays.

Prioritizing Self-Care During the Holidays (0:24:04) 

Self-care, reducing stress, connection, love, and joy during the holidays are discussed to help manage to overwhelm.

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What You’ll Learn from this Episode

  • Uncover the reality behind holiday caregiving, challenge the self-sacrifice myth, and explore the significance of questioning and reevaluating expectations.
  • Learn to prioritize your physical well-being, value your irreplaceable body, and break the neglect cycle caused by the daily hustle.
  • Navigate realistic family holidays: prioritize feelings, foster peace, calm, and connection through practical steps, without expecting unrealistic transformations from loved ones.
  • Explore how the influence of ‘SHOULD’ on personal choices can disconnect you from what truly matters, break free from external expectations, and design a holiday that authentically resonates with meaning.

Listen to the Full Episode:

Full Episode Transcript:

I’d like you to imagine this holiday season, you’re sipping your favorite warm drink, totally at ease, surrounded by the cozy hum of your family. No frantic last minute runs, not all night wrapping sessions, no simmering resentment under a plastered on smile.

Sounds too good to be true. It’s totally not. And it isn’t just a dreamy holiday card scenario. It is your upcoming reality if you’re ready to turn things around.

In today’s episode of this special holiday health series, we are busting through the biggest holiday myth of all. One that says that your worth is measured by how much you hustle and sacrifice for that picture perfect holiday.

But what if I told you that the secret to a memorable season doesn’t lie in doing more, but rather doing less. Less stressing, less pleasing, less bending over backwards. So, if you’ve ever felt like you are losing yourself in the rush of the holiday expectations, today episode is your wake up call. And trust me, you do not want to miss this.

So, buckle up as we dive into the grand finale of our holiday health series, where I am dishing out the unfiltered truth in what’s going to save your sanity and help you reclaim the joy of the season. Because this year, the greatest gift you’re giving is to yourself. The gift of peace, presence, and authentic joy.

Let’s get into it.

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 another episode of the Holiday Health Series. Now, if you’ve been following along, you know that we’ve been diving into some raw and real topics that hit home this time of year. We’ve talked about the invisible workload that always seems to land on our shoulders. How setting boundaries doesn’t make you rude, it makes you sane. And how figuring out your bare minimums can help you feel a heck of a lot better during these crazy holiday times.

What’s on tap for today? We are digging into a myth, a seriously damaging myth that has been so ingrained in us for way too long. The idea that you, yes you, need to be this virtuous caregiver, particularly now during the holidays.

Let’s be honest, most of us have been programmed to think that a good mom or a good woman is someone who’s running herself ragged to make everyone else’s holiday magical. And by everyone else, I mean literally everyone else but herself.

And guess what? It’s a whole load of nonsense. It’s time to take a step backward and ask yourself, why? Why am I doing this? Why am I hustling so hard? And for whom? Because if you dig deep, you will realize that most of this pressure is either self-imposed or coming from people who have their own baggage to deal with. You are not a holiday factory or a wish fulfilling genie. You are a human being who deserves to enjoy this season as much as anyone else in your family. Period.

Let’s level here. All of this going above and beyond isn’t just exhausting. It’s undermining your health. And when was the last time that you even thought about your own wellbeing amidst the holiday chaos? That needs to change, like yesterday. We’re talking about your health people, mental, emotional, and physical. You can’t pour from an empty cup and it’s high time that cup got some attention.

So, what’s coming up? Today, we’re ripping all of this apart. This virtual caregiver narrative that helps you to reclaim your peace and joy this holiday season. We’re going to get into the thick of it. Examine the cost of always striving to do more. Break down how to simplify your holiday agenda. And most importantly, put you back on your own priority list, because quite frankly, you belong there.

All right, so let’s unpack this virtual caregiver idea that’s been sold to us like some kind of lifetime subscription that we never signed up for. You know the story. As women, especially as mothers, we’re supposed to be these selfless beings who put everyone else’s needs above our own.

Does that sound familiar? Of course, it does. It’s a tale as old as time. But here’s where it gets especially thick, around the Holidays. Yes, the most wonderful time of the year to forget yourself completely.

Now, let me get this straight. The holidays are supposed to be about togetherness, joy, peace on earth, goodwill to all, you know the deal. But somehow, it turns into this high stakes performance where we are the main act. We find ourselves caught in this cycle of guilt and resentment. Guilt, if we don’t make everything perfect and resentment because spoiler alert, we’re not actually enjoying any of it.

And here’s the kicker. You’re not just letting yourself down when you put everything else first. You are setting a dangerous example for your kids and perpetuating a cycle that quite frankly needs to be broken.

I mean, do you want your daughter growing up thinking that her worth is tied to how well she can arrange her holiday centerpiece? Or how delicious her sugar cookies are. No, I didn’t think so. But let’s not put all of the blame on ourselves. No, there’s quite enough to go around for everyone else. Cue the external pressures.

Social media is a minefield of perfect holiday spreads and crafty gift ideas. And let’s not even talk about those holiday letters that are just humble brags in disguise. It’s as if there’s this unspoken competition among women, outdo each other during the holidays.

And let’s face it, that pressure is usually coming from other women, not from the men in our lives. So, why are we doing this to ourselves? Here’s the truth. No one. And I mean, no one is going to remember the brand of your holiday china, or the exact sequence of your twinkle lights. But they will remember how the holidays felt.

And guess what? If mom’s stressed out and miserable, that’s going to be the lingering scent on the holiday air. Not exactly the sugar and spice we’re going for, right?

Let’s be done with this nonsense. The cost of buying into this virtual caregiver myth is too d*mn high. It’s compromising our well-being, hijacking our joy, and it’s not even serving the people we love. Enough is enough.

Okay, hopefully you’ve bought into breaking down this virtual caregiver myth, right? But let’s talk about what it’s really costing you to play that role. I’m talking about the real toll, both emotionally and physically. Because this isn’t just draining your spirit, it’s actually impacting your health, and not in a good way.

Let’s start with the emotional baggage you’re carrying around like extra holiday pounds. It’s stress, it’s anxiety, it’s that feeling of always being on edge. You’re supposed to be enjoying your family and this season, but instead you’re playing party planner, chef, decorator, and therapist.

And for what? You end up so mentally exhausted that you can’t even take in those precious moments. And let me tell you, those moments are the real gifts. Don’t let them pass you by.

Next, let’s talk about your physical well-being. Your body is your vehicle, your vessel, your one and only home. You do not get another one. You can’t trade it in. You wouldn’t overwork your car without regular tune ups, right? So, why are you doing it to yourself?

Lack of sleep, no time for exercise, grabbing fast food because who’s got time to cook, let alone eat. It all piles up. And before you know it, you’re hitting January feeling like you’ve been run over by Santa’s sleigh.

Here’s what really gets me. This hustle affects the choices that we make around our health. I mean, how many times have you put off your regular checkups, or even ignored your health symptoms because you’re quote unquote too busy? Way too often, right?

That is a dangerous game to play. Again, you can’t pour from an empty cup. You are letting yourself run on fumes, leaving yourself last on your priority list. And let’s be real here.

What’s the point of creating all of this holiday magic if you’re not even in a state to enjoy it? Who are you doing this all for anyway? Because if it’s for the people who love you, then I’ve got news for you. They’d rather have a healthier, happier you over a picture perfect holiday season any day. And you know, this is true.

So, here it is your reality check. When you neglect yourself, you’re not just cheating yourself out of happiness. You’re setting yourself up for a slew of health issues down the line. Mental exhaustion, physical fatigue, stress induced ailments, these aren’t just badges of martyrdom, they are red flags.

Enough of this holiday hustle that’s hustling us, out of our own well-being. Let’s commit to a new tradition for this year. One that includes self-care, self-respect, and putting your health where it should be, front and center. Because the best gift you can give to your family and to yourself is a whole, healthy, happy you. Make sure that you are on your gift list this year.

Shifting gears, a little bit, let’s talk about last week’s episode of Bare Minimums. If you didn’t catch that episode, do yourself a favor and go listen to it later. Trust me, it is a game changer. Now, for those of you who did tune in, you’ll remember we discussed those non-negotiable habits that are so basic, you can stick with them no matter what.

Let’s roll that into our holiday prep. The holidays are like a snowball rolling downhill, right? Gaining size and speed, and before you know it, you are completely buried. That’s why you’ve got to apply the bare minimums concept here. If we let that snowball take over, you can kiss those healthy habits goodbye.

But if you set your bare minimums, you can dodge that snowball like a pro. Let’s break it down. What are the things that you absolutely must do this holiday season? And don’t even think about saying everything because it’s not everything. It’s not outdoing your neighbor’s decorations. It’s not the five course Christmas dinner. It’s not even the perfectly wrapped presents.

You know, what it is? It’s making a memory, creating a feeling, capturing a moment. And what feeling is that? For most of us, it’s peace, it’s calm, and it’s connection. So, look at your holiday to do list.

Does making those handmade Christmas ornaments with the kids bring peace, calm, and connection? Great! Keep doing it! Does spending hours cooking and baking bring stress and exhaustion? If so, maybe it’s time to dial it back.

So, here’s your task. Take that To-Do list, and next to each item, ask yourself, does this create the feeling of peace, calm, and connection for me and my family? If it doesn’t, strike it off, Marie Kondo that sh*t right out of here. You are not doing it.

Remember, the “8 Basic Habits that Healthy People Do,” free guide? Take those as your cue. If a holiday task messes with your sleep, hydration, or whatever your bare minimums are, it gets the boot. Simple as that. It’s about giving yourself permission to only do what serves you and your loved ones.

Because let’s get real here. No one in your family is going to remember how perfectly the presents are wrapped or how gourmet the dinner was. But they will remember how they felt. And they’ll remember you, relaxed, engaged, and fully present, or not. And that my friend is worth its weight in gold, or should I say tinsel.

Alright, let’s pause for a moment. Close your eyes unless you’re driving. And then please, for the love of all of us, do not close your eyes, keep them open.

Now, I want you to picture your ideal holiday scene. But wait a second, before you start imagining some Hollywood movie, type holiday. Let’s get one thing straight. The people in this vision of yours are the same folks you deal with year round, quirks and all. Your critical mom isn’t going to morph into June Cleaver just because you made an epic centerpiece.

And let’s be honest, Uncle Bob, he’s probably still going to crack those inappropriate jokes whether you serve filet mignon or hotdogs. The point here isn’t to paint some fantasy where everyone’s suddenly flawless. That just sets us up for disappointment when others don’t meet the expectations that we’ve set for them.

Expectations that are also unattainable. That’s how life works. The point is to focus on how you want to feel and what you can realistically do to foster those feelings of peace, calm, and connection. So, in your mind, sure, everyone is still their usual selves, but how do you feel and what do you do amidst it all?

Now, hold that feeling. Seriously, make it your anchor. Every time you’re faced with a holiday task or obligation, weigh it against this anchor feeling. Is sending out those 100 Christmas cards going to add to your sense of peace and calm? Or is it going to send you into a tailspin of stress and overwhelm?

If it’s the latter, guess what? You have full permission to not do it. By being crystal clear about the emotions that you want to create, you can cut through the fluff and focus on what truly matters. And trust me, aligning your actions with your desired feelings is a sure fire way to not just survive the holidays, but to genuinely enjoy them.

Look, people are going to be who they are. The holidays aren’t a magic wand that changes everyone’s personality. What you do have control over is yourself, your actions, your reactions, and your boundaries.

So, focus on that. Keep your eye on the prize. And the prize is how you want to feel this holiday season. Let that guide you and you will navigate through the holiday chaos like a champ.

All right. Next, I want you to grab a pen and paper. Open up the notes app on your phone or whatever because we are about to do a little bit of homework. But trust me, this is the kind of homework that’ll free up some mental and emotional bandwidth. So, stick with me, okay?

You know that holiday to do list that you’ve got. The one that’s probably a mile long by now. Yeah. Let’s yank that sucker out into the light and give it a good, hard look.

Now, I want you to go through each item on that list and ask yourself a few key questions. I’m not talking about questions like, can I get this done, or do I have enough time to do this? No, those are trap questions that will suck you right back into the holiday hustle.

Instead, ask, does this task align with the feelings of peace, calm, and connection that I want to create this holiday season? Will my holiday still be meaningful without this? Does doing this, add genuine value to my life or am I doing it because I think I should? Right? And last, if I don’t do this, what’s the worst that could possibly happen? Seriously, what is the worst that would happen?

Now, take your time and be brutally honest with yourself. If something doesn’t pass the test, it’s got to go. Cross it off, hit that delete button, whatever you’ve got to do. Don’t worry about what others might think or say. this is about you reclaiming your holiday joy and peace.

Next, let’s talk about that pesky word, should. I mentioned it before. Now, should is like that friend who gives you terrible advice but is always sounding really convincing. You should host dinner this year. You should make everything from scratch. Stop ‘SHOULDing’ all over yourself. If should is the main reason that you’re doing something, it’s a sign that that task is more about external expectations. Then, what really matters to you.

The goal here isn’t to create some picture perfect holiday out of a magazine. The goal is to create a holiday that feels true to you and the people that you love, warts and all. So, do yourself a favor and free up some space. Mentally, emotionally, and maybe even on your calendar by giving that to do list a good pruning.

Okay, so let’s take a breath and soak in a little bit of what I’ve covered so far. First off, shake off that virtual caregiver myth. You can love your family fiercely without sacrificing yourself in the process.

Remember, resentment and burnout don’t make for good holiday memories. And you don’t have to keep up with the Joneses or the Instagrammers to have a magical season. We talked about the real cost of the holiday hustle, the emotional and physical toll of trying to do it all isn’t worth it.

I mean, what’s the point of creating a perfect holiday if you’re too stressed and tired to enjoy it? And let’s not forget last week’s gold nugget, those bare minimums. Keep those non-negotiable habits close to make sure you’re not running on empty when the new year rolls around.

Okay. So, are you still picturing that ideal holiday in your mind? Good. Hold on to that vision. That’s your North Star. As you go through the whirlwind of planning, cooking, decorating, and whatever else. Keep that vision front and center. Use it as a guide as you decide what really deserves a spot on your to do list this year.

And speaking of this year, it’s just around the corner. And I know that some of you are already thinking about New Year’s resolutions, especially when it comes to your health.

If you are ready to start 2023 with a commitment to a healthier, happier you, let’s talk. I’m extending an invitation to schedule a call with me. We’ll discuss your unique challenges, goals, and how you can make health a priority this new year without feeling overwhelmed or guilty. You don’t have to go it alone.

If you’re tired of the cycles of dieting, overeating, and guilt. If you’re struggling to find time for yourself amid work and family obligations, or if you’ve tried and failed to stick to a healthy routine before, I totally get it. And I’m here to help.

Let’s make this next year the year that you reclaim your health and, by extension, your life. To schedule your call, just click on the link in the show notes or head over to my website. Go to Trust me, taking that first step towards prioritizing your own well-being is the best gift you can give to yourself and to your loved ones this season.

As we wrap up today’s episode and the Holiday Health Series, let’s just take a moment. First, I want you to take a deep breath. And then, let it out. This is your season too. Not just a season of giving to everyone else. It’s not selfish to want a little peace, a little calm, and a lot of connection this holiday. It’s human. And let’s get real.

If you’re running on empty, what are you really giving to those around you? We’ve shattered some myths today, torn down some should dos and must dos. And I hope given you permission to do you this holiday season. Because when you strip away all of that extra stuff, the perfectly curated social media posts, the over the top decor, the endless to dos, what you’re left with is the core of the season. Connection, love, and joy. And none of these things require you to lose yourself in the process.

So, as you’re stepping into these last few days before Christmas and the New Year, Keep today’s message in your pocket. Whenever you start to feel the stress creep in, or you start second guessing yourself. Remember, what we talked about. You are worth more than the sum of your holiday tasks.

And hey, if today’s episode struck a chord with you, you’ve got a whole series to catch up on. Dive into the Holiday Health series to get more of this straight talk. No fluff advice for navigating this season without losing sight of yourself. All of the episodes are available for you right now, so don’t hesitate to go back and soak in some more insights.

Thank you for tuning in today. It’s been a journey, and I am so grateful that you’ve chosen to spend your time with me. Here’s to making the holidays and the upcoming new year a time for true joy, peace, and above all, self-care. Because you are worth it.

Hey there, I am so glad that you spent this time with me today.

Are you feeling inspired to take control of your health, but not quite sure where to start? Or maybe you’re ready for that next step towards food freedom, body neutrality, and consistent eating habits. Either way, I’ve got something just for you.

If you’re a woman in midlife who’s done with dieting and ready to embrace a healthier relationship with food, your body, and self, let’s connect. Whether you’re interested in private coaching with me or my amazing group coaching program, we’ll discover what’s perfect for your unique journey.

So, why not book a consult? It’s a chance for us to chat one on one, explore your needs, and find the path that’s meant for you. Just head to and let’s get started.

I truly believe that transformation is within your reach and I’m here to guide you every step of the way. It’s your time to shine and I can’t wait to support you in this amazing journey.

Thank you again for listening and remember, I’m always here for you. Take care and I’ll see you soon.

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