Episode 011. Transforming Your Approach to the Holidays



[00:00:00] Cynthia Garcia: The holidays are a time when we focus on others by sending cards, buying gifts, and cooking food. But during high stress times, it’s more important than ever to find time for you. So if you know that the holidays are going to be stressful plan accordingly and make sure that you’re scheduling in me time, carving out time for self care, and following the principles of transformational nutrition.

Welcome back to The Transformational Nutrition podcast. The podcast that is redefining nutrition as anything that feeds you physically, mentally, and spiritually. I am your host, Cynthia Garcia, the founder and CEO of the Institute of Transformational Nutrition. 

Now in today’s episode, we are talking about the holidays, how you can not only survive, but thrive this holiday season by focusing on just three simple things. That’s right. Three simple things. So let’s get into. All right. So when this episode airs, it will be November 23rd, which means we are just a few days away from Thanksgiving and only about a month away from Christmas. Where has the time gone this year? That’s what I need to know. And listen, if you are someone who just had to take a deep breath.

Oh. When I brought up how close the holidays are, you are not alone. So let’s just hit this head on. All right, everyone. Tends to think that holidays are this warm, fuzzy time of celebration and eggnog and Turkey, but not everyone has warm fuzzy associations with these holiday. I know that I didn’t for a really long time.

It was something that I really struggled with for years. In fact, when I was young, I dreaded the holidays. I dreaded them so much. I remember just the heaviness, the dark energy that would gather as the holidays got. Closer because you see, we didn’t really have any money. You know, I’ve said that over and over.

And so my parents would scramble. They would stress to get us gifts. Maybe you had a similar situation. I remember this one Christmas. Oh my gosh. This one Christmas. I wanted a cassette tape player. Not just any cassette tape player I had seen, I think it was in like the dollar general store or something.

I had seen this little pink. Radio and cassette tape player combo. And it was everything that I thought would make me happy for the rest of my life. And then some, I was all about this cassette tape player. And so I asked for. I hoped it prayed. I did all the things. I really wanted this. I remember saying if I just get this, I’ll never ask for anything else, because even though I was a bore kid, I was still a kid and I still.

You know, desired things, just like everyone else. Now my parents would put out presents a few days before Christmas. I don’t do that now with my daughter. They go up when Santa count. Right. And they, she believes in Santa. She just goes along with it. I don’t think she’s ever believed in Zanda for the record.

Kind of plays along anyways, when I was growing up, the presence went under the tree a few days before Christmas, sometimes even a couple of weeks now I was notorious for not being able to wait. I wanted that instant gratification. Didn’t like surprises. I’m still that way. And when I saw one present go under the tree that looked like that pink cassette tape player.

Oh, I just had to know. I had to know, I was like, what is that? It that they get it. I got to know. And so I did the thing that you’re not supposed to do. The thing that my parents said don’t, don’t do it. Don’t do it. Don’t peek don’t peek. This was going to fix everything in my life. And if it was true, if it was really that cause that tape player, and if not, I mean, my life was over as I knew.

Right. I was it. And so there were things steak here. I couldn’t just wait till Christmas. What was that? And so I peaked, I did, and I started like pressing the paper up against the box to try to see what was inside and the paper was really thin and I could tell and sure. That was my cassette player. And I was so happy.

I was just thrilled. However, I pushed the paper a little too hard in some places and it got damaged and my mom realized it and she called me out. She said, listen, did you do this? Did you Pete? And I said, well, I mean, I was just trying to see if I could guess. But she knew, right. You know how parents just know sometimes she.

And she got really upset. She got really angry at me and she said, listen, you know, I’m sorry, I can’t afford the thick, nice wrapping paper. And I just felt bad. I felt so bad. I felt terrible that this had happened and it just crushed my little heart. I mean, I was just excited about getting the pink cassette tape player.

Right. But it was more to her than that. And I didn’t realize it until after the fact it crushed my heart that I had made her feel like she wasn’t good at. And so I started to think of Christmas as just another day of the year. And that turned into some real anxiety as I was growing up. I didn’t know how to handle the holidays.

Even once I had moved out on my own. Unfortunately, the holidays just brought up really sad memories of my family arguing or cold winters and snow that we weren’t sure if we would be able to drive through because we didn’t have a good car and little heat in the house. Nothing. Good.

We love spotlighting the stories and transformations of our students here at ITN. I’m especially excited to share Jared Fisher’s journey from being told he had a debilitating disease and suffering a horrific accident to being a certified transformational nutrition coach with his own thriving product-based business. Let’s meet Jared now.

[00:06:38] Jared Fisher: I was in an accident when I was 17 years old. And I woke up or I regained consciousness underwater. And I remember thinking at the time, like, this is how my life’s going to end. I’ve been a huge surfer my whole life. And I was involved in a surfing accident. I had several surgeries to repair the injury after that. I was always a really small kid growing up. I never really had a growth spurt. And so that was really a source of, I would say, insecurity for me and contributed to an overall lack of confidence. 

And then when I had this injury to my face, that just kind of made it worse because I had these horrific scars on my face. I would say that really started this downward spiral. Well, it turned into alcohol and drug abuse and really just living a lifestyle that was not supportive of good health. And then I found myself in my late twenties, and I started having really bad, lower back pain. And I saw a couple of doctors and they’re looking at my MRI and they’re like, whoa, this looks horrible.

They diagnosed me with degenerative disc disease. There’s really no cure. And basically I was told, yeah, your spine looks like that of somebody in their sixties. From there, the daily drinking continued. I was put on prescription pain medication. Things just kind of continued to spiral and get worse from there.

[00:08:13] Cynthia Garcia: Now today, I’ve rewritten my story about the holidays. And I have a little girl that I show up fully for like fully, I mean, the tree is full on Christmas Eve. Like you don’t even know. And I would be lying to you if I said that it still doesn’t get stressful at times. I mean, hi, it’s still, Christmas is still the holidays.

No matter what you celebrate, whether it’s Christmas or not, the holidays are an intense time. I don’t think I’m alone in feeling this way. And honestly, a lot of stress is feeling like you aren’t doing enough for other people, because a lot of us tend to be people pleasing. Right. This is the holidays we need to show up.

We need to give the perfect gift. We need to bring the perfect food to all of those dinners that we go to in the potlucks and so on and so forth. So with the cooking and the baking and the shopping, it’s a lot. I get it. The holidays can also often remind us of loved ones who no longer get to celebrate with us or families that now live far away, that we can’t.

Or it may cause you financial stress, whatever it is, it’s important to address it. And that’s what we’re going to talk about today. So look, I am not trying to be a Grinch and bring down the holiday spirit, but we might as well be real about the situation because the holidays can bring about a whole lot of feelings other than happy.

So let’s talk about him. So for example, people tend to compare themselves to others more during the holidays than any other time of the year. I mean, think about it. It’s really easy to look at someone’s holiday card or their social post and think that their life is just perfect and yours. Well isn’t like apparently everyone else is having a great holiday season.

Except for you, right? And then you think, well, why not me? What’s wrong with me. I gotta do more. Gotta have more. I got to be more going to feel more. The holidays are also just stereotypically a time to be surrounded by loved ones or family members. And this can bring up a lot of other emotions. There could be a family conflict, even when that’s been going on for a while.

And so it doesn’t really make you look forward to getting together with that person, if you’re getting together with that person or those people. Okay. Or it could be the first holiday season after the passing of someone that you love. And that can really trigger feelings of grief or loss can be incredibly challenging.

Or maybe you simply don’t have a relationship with your family. Maybe you don’t have any family peer. Or maybe something’s happened around Christmas to your family? I remember in high school, I had a friend and her parents got divorced around Christmas. And so every year after that, she had a really difficult time dealing with it.

Now, those things may all be your reality and we’re not here to deny them, but rather to look at ways that even if that is your reality, that may be, you could make things. With just, you know, some effort and planning on your end. And that’s why I want to share with you those three things that you can focus on through this holiday season with practical tips, so that you can make this a season where you thrive and where you take care of yourself. And those things are physical. Mental nutrition and spiritual nutrition. That’s right. It’s the transformational nutrition model. 

Listen in as Jared shares his turning point and what spurred him and his family into action when it came to their health.

[00:12:02] Jared Fisher: I remember one day I was literally laying on the couch. I could barely move. And my kids, they were young at the time and they came up to me and they’re like, Hey dad, you want to go outside and play? And I was just like, it just kinda hit me. I’m like, I can’t even get up and go play with my kids. And so it all kind of came to a head.

I actually went to see a doctor and he told me that I had Andropause, which is basically the male equivalent of menopause. Me going through that my wife come to find out she’s had Hashimoto’s, which is an auto-immune disease. I was experiencing what I was going through, which included drinking every day, eating out every day, taking pain medication every day.

My daughter was having allergic reactions to a lot of the things that she was eating. My son was having anxiety. So my wife was the one who really took the bull by the horns and initiated change for the family by, you know, starting to make all of our food. We stopped eating out every day, and it just went from thinking that we were healthy or doing things that were supportive of good health. But in reality, we weren’t. To making the shift where health became the focal point of both of our lives. And it was no more eating out. It was making every meal that we were eating from scratch and really reinforcing these health habits.

[00:13:30] Cynthia Garcia: So let’s look at some really practical things that you can do in each of those three pillars of transformation or nutrition to feed yourself this holiday season, physically. Sure. But also mentally and spiritually. All right. Physical nutrition. I don’t know about. But the holiday season usually takes a hard hit on my physical nutrition.

I, even though I know I plan, I coach people on this stuff. I am not immune. Right. And so oftentimes I’ll get too busy or too stressed to stick to my workout on a regular basis. And there are some treats around the holidays that I like to protect. I like it. I do. And I’m not saying that that’s a bad thing, right?

Sometimes we can do that as long as we do it with intention and on purpose, right. I never just mindlessly eat. I’m always very intentional and I need to stop sometimes and remind myself or whether I don’t need, but I choose to stop and remind myself of how much better I feel when I feed myself healthy meals.

When I get fresh air. And when I make those workouts are real. Right. And it doesn’t have to like ruin the holiday cheer. So one of the, my favorite things to do is to walk around our neighborhood in the evenings and look at all of the great Christmas decorations right now. I live in Los Angeles and sometimes people hear, I swear.

Y’all I think they think that they’re designing their own Christmas movie set because O. Out like you should see some of the stuff that gets put up in people’s homes and yards. It’s fantastic. There’s actually a fella here named Dr. Christmas and he goes into people’s homes and yards and decorates. And I mean, we’re talking about the entire house is decked out.

Anyways, I get off topic a little bit here, but it’s one way that I can stay active, enjoy the holiday and spend time with my family just by heading out into the neighborhood. I get fresh air lowers my stress levels. And again, we’re getting exercise in a meaningful way where we can do. Now we also try other types of movement.

For example, my daughter is all about ice skating. She’s so active and athletic. So her dragging us out to an ice skating rink around the holidays, it’s just, I mean, it’s a thing. It happens. And again, we’re going to LA, so they build these ice skating rinks and they do, um, you know, just around the holidays because they melt at any other times, but it’s a really nice thing to go out and do.

I always take her to watch the Nutcracker and it becomes a family tradition and that gets us out and about, you know, ahead of time. So think about how you can stay physically fed as you move through the holidays. And if you do enjoy, you know, partaking in desserts and things that you normally wouldn’t that’s okay.

Do it from a conscious standpoint, try to find that balance and eat them in moderation. You don’t want to have to eat the whole cake. You can eat a piece of the cake and really be present. Eat mindfully, right? Smell the food. Feel the texture in your mouth really embrace the flavors of it. Like have a whole experience because studies show that you’ll actually eat less, but enjoy it more if you do that, if you eat mindfully.

So think about. Also respect your hunger cues only eat when you’re hungry and stop. When you’re full. A lot of us have lost track of that over the years, but it’s something that the holidays gives us a great opportunity to get back in touch with. And then finally, from a physical standpoint, get some red.

Right. Get some sleep. It’s really important for most of us, because typically we are doing way more than usual. We tend to have more stress on us. And so getting that sleep and restoring our body and our minds at night is really critical. So make sure that you are getting enough rest and enough. All right, let’s move on to mental nutrition.

So the first thing, check yourself, physically, make sure that you’re doing even the small things, because they really can’t add up and a huge way. And if you fall off the wagon, hop back on the next moment that you remember, it’s really that simple. Don’t beat yourself up. We’re not judging each other here, right?

That’s there’s no point in that. We’re just acknowledging it, being aware of it and then choosing the next right step.

Jared is leveraging his certified transformational nutrition certification in a different way than many coaches who become certified do. And we not only encourage that, but we love it when our students use their education in a way that inspires and motivates them to go out and impact the world in a better, healthier way.

[00:18:25] Jared Fisher: I would say I’m definitely not using it in the traditional capacity. A lot of people probably think that this program is designed for somebody who wants to work with clients one-on-one or in a small group setting. And I would say this is a great program for those who want to do that. But I would say it’s definitely not limited to those who want to work with others, one-on-one, myself being an example. 

So my wife and I, about a year ago, we decided to take one of the recipes that she’s been making, which is a pancake and waffle mix and turn that into a food company. It’s called Organically Food. For me, the way I’ve leveraged, that is part of the program was dedicated to nutrition aspect. Part of the program was dedicated to a psychology spirituality, but there’s also this running a business component. 

And although I’ve been running a business in a completely different industry for the past 16 years, I was really looking for some guidance there to help leverage nutrition and health knowledge and translate that into the business that my wife and I have launched. There’s so much of what I’ve taken from that program has been applied to what we’re doing with Organically Foods. The whole business incubator part of the CTNC program. There’s some amazing resources there.

[00:20:09] Cynthia Garcia: All right. The second pillar is mental nutrition. So it’s really important to acknowledge during this time that you have feelings that may not be joy and Christmas cheer, and you need to know that you’re not alone in this. In fact 64% of people with mental health conditions report that the holidays make their conditions worse and whether or not you have a mental health condition that’s diagnosed, you may still be feeling the effects of poor mental nutrition.

So let’s talk through a few factors that may hinder your mental health during the holidays and how you can get through. So if someone close to you has recently passed away and it’s really difficult for you to be with loved ones, then know that it’s normal to feel sadness and grief. A lot of times we just say, well, the show must go on.

The holiday must go on. People are expecting me, got to show up, gotta be there, got to put the smile on the face. Got to do it. Do you work? Could you just take time? To express how you really feel to just be who you are to not force yourself, just to be happy because it’s the holiday season. You don’t have to do that.

That’s a choice and you can choose differently. And that is okay. It’s perfectly okay. One of the most important lessons I’ve learned in terms of helping my mental health during the holidays is that it’s okay to say no. Right? So be who you are, feel what you feel. And if you want to say no, say no. Say no, listen.

I feel like the holidays are the time when everyone you’ve ever met or vaguely even been introduced to once to see you and hang out. And it’s when all the family is like, Hey, come spend some time with us. And oftentimes that’s means travel and activities and lack of rest and too much food and too much wine and it can be overwhelming.

And that’s just the fact and saying, yes, when you should say no, can not only leave you feeling exhausted and burnt out and overwhelmed and stressed and anxious. But it can also leave you feeling resentful of the very people that you’re trying to be joyous with. You’re hanging out with these people and you’re exhausted and you’re like, oh, why am I even here with you right now?

And of course that makes your fuse a little shorter. You’re more anxious, you’re more irritable. You’re probably not sleeping as well. And then that can lead to arguments or disagreements with the very people that you’ve taken time out and taken all this. To spend time with. Right. So think about that. And is it something that you want to put yourself in the midst of, or do you simply want to say gosh, would love to just not really having the time to prioritize, seeing one more person and taking care of my mental health.

So this year I’m saying yes. You can do that. You really can. And just be honest about the situation I, to make up excuses, just be honest, your real family and friends and people who care about you will understand. They really will. And if they don’t, it might be time to look at that relationship.

Prioritize things that you want to be a part of and plan ahead. That’s another great tip for you. So you can say, no, you don’t have to do it. You can feel what you feel. You can be, who you choose to be. And another thing that you can do is to actively choose what you want to be a part of and plan for it.

So schedule times to bake or to cook, but also scheduled times for solitude and regrouping, especially if you’re more. Another way to help with your mental health is to stick to your routine. Cause let’s tell the truth. The holidays are notorious for keeping you at pasture bedtime, enticing you to eat more than usual.

As we’ve already talked about giving you an excuse to just ditch your workout routine. Cause there’s other, you’ve got to wrap gifts, you’ve got to go shopping, right? But maintaining control of your day is one of the best ways to minimize stress, stick to your normal schedule as much as possible to decrease stress and anxiety.

Now I am a creature of habit to the extreme. I really am. Everything is in my calendar. I wake up at the same time every day I follow my normal routine. I’ll even eat the same things on a regular basis, just because I love not having to think about it. And I love knowing what to expect. It’s one less decision that I have to make in my super busy.

And so during the holiday season, I really try not to stray from that. Now, obviously there are things that come up and additional commitments and travel schedules, and those things are reality for most of us. But as much as you can stick to your schedule that you already have throughout the rest of the year, better off your mental health is going to be.

We asked Jared what he would say was his favorite aspect of the CTNC program, and I love his response. Let’s listen.

[00:25:23] Jared Fisher: From the curriculum to the faculty, I really feel like Cynthia has just pulled together some incredible resources to create a very comprehensive program that you can follow at your own pace. What I also really liked about the program. It’s not just focusing on nutrition. It brings in and ties in the psychology component, as well as the spirituality component.

This program specifically, it’s such a comprehensive well-rounded program and it’s so well done and well put together. I would say it would be nearly impossible to go through this program and not come out with some amazing ideas and have at least a sense of direction as to what is it you want to be doing.

[00:26:19] Cynthia Garcia: All right. Let’s touch on that third thing, which is spiritual Tricia, take a step back and let’s think about what the holiday season is really about. I mean, I think we can all agree that no matter what your beliefs are, what holiday you celebrate. It’s really a time to draw in close your family and your friends, those people that you care about.

It’s a time for connection, which is what we see spirituality as here at ITN. It’s all about connection, connection to yourself, to others and to the planet or something bigger if you choose. So what does it really mean to you? The holidays? They don’t have to be perfect. They don’t have to be just like last year or better.

They just need to be about connecting with yourself, with others and with feeding yourself spiritually. Now we get so wrapped up in all these tiny little details than the image of it. Don’t we too. I mean, I do too. I want my Christmas tree to look perfect. Christmas cards. If I sent them out, I’d want those to look perfect.

I gave up on those a long time ago. It’s only so much I can do in my day. I said no to Christmas cards that worked for me. It’s all about my mental health. So. Don’t get too caught up. Do what works for you, right? We get so caught up in these tiny details that sometimes we forget the big picture. We forget about the time that we spend with our families, the relaxation we’re supposed to feel the higher power we may or may not connect with this year.

Make an effort to take a deep breath and focus on the real reason that you’re celebrating the holidays to begin with. Okay. Think about that. Think about connecting to those that you do have great relationships and also let’s call out those that you don’t have good relationships with. Now, for me, you know, again, gripping in the south, we had a crazy family, it was a very volatile environment.

And pretty much at the end of every single holiday, there was a fight. Somebody you would get into an argument which sometimes turned into a physical fight. It’s true. It happened a lot of times. And so what I realized after, I mean, growing up in this and many, many, many, many, many years of seeing the same movie on a different year, that I decided that I wasn’t gonna put myself in that situation anymore.

I just don’t want to deal with it. I’d seen the movie. I knew how it was going to end and for my own health, I decided to not partake in that situation anymore. Now that’s for me. And there’s a lot of deep history and stories and triggers that are involved here. So that’s for me, you do you, but if you choose to be around other people, focus on the present moment and don’t get pulled too far into the.

A lot of us go into these situations where maybe we only see these people once a year. And we’re reminded of what happened last year and the year before or the months before. Instead of that, just really open yourself to that spiritual connection. Focus on the present moment. Be here now as rom Doss would say, stay open and stay curious.

Let go of judging other people. I wonder why aunt Mary somehow felt the need to say that right here to my face. I wonder, I wonder why. Huh? That’s interesting. I’m so curious as to why she said that we’re not going to judge aunt Mary. We’re just gonna let her have her thing. It’s all right. Just focus on you.

Stay in control of. Now you might also be thinking, okay, great. Sure. If I had friends or family to connect with, I might turn to that tactic, Cynthia, but I don’t. And that’s a very valid question and you’re certainly not alone, even though I know it feels like it, a lot of people are in this situation. And so if you feel lonely or isolated, seek out other community, you can look to religious or other social events or activities in your community.

Most communities have websites. They have online support groups. They have social media sites. There’s virtual events that are popping up left and right. All of these things can offer support and companionship during this time so that you don’t have to be alone. A really great way to overcome this during the holidays is to volunteer your time, doing something to help others.

That feeds you on such a deep spiritual level. It lifts your spirits. It broadens your friendships, your develop new relationships or further develop the ones that you have, you know, and this doesn’t have to be something that you do in a major way. You don’t have to like volunteer at a food bank or anything like that.

You could simply drop off a meal at a neighbor’s home during the holidays, right. It can be really, really simple. Give a toy to the kid next door. Additionally, you want to take time to ground yourself and practice mindfulness during this time, because it is so easy to get swept up in the hustle and bustle of the gifts and the food. And instead schedule moments to just sit with yourself and focus on being really present, just focus on being present, focus on as they say, the reason for the season. And that is connection. And part of that is with. 

We are hearing from Jared one last time as he shares his epiphanes not only from his journey, of reclaiming both his and his family’s health, but also from his personal journey of becoming a certified transformational nutrition coach with ITN.

[00:31:57] Jared Fisher: The realization that I’ve come to, at least for myself, is that health above anything else is my greatest asset. I really truly believe it’s the foundation for happiness, for fulfillment, for a better life. I feel like good health just makes everything else in life better. You talk to somebody that doesn’t have their health and what is it that they want more than anything? They just want to be healthy. 

With good health, I’m able to be a better father, a better husband, a better leader. It’s made such a big difference in my life. I’m so passionate about sharing that with other people, because I see so many people struggling and not knowing what to do, not knowing where to turn. My name is Jared Fisher. I live in orange county, California. I’ve been married for 13 years. I have a son Jackson a daughter Jaycee. And being involved in the health and wellness space I would say that’s really become like the centerpiece or the focal point of my life as of about eight years ago.

[00:33:11] Cynthia Garcia: So look, the holidays are a time when we focus on others by sending cars, buying gifts and cookies, but during high stress times, it’s more important than ever to find time for. So if you know that the holidays are going to be stressful plan accordingly and make sure that you’re scheduling and me time carving out time for self care and following the principles of transformation or nutrition by focusing on just those three areas, just those three areas.

Even if you pick one thing from each area every day to focus on your holidays will truly be transferred. Alright, I am wishing you and your loved ones, an amazing holiday season. I hope it’s full of connection, health and happiness. If you enjoyed this episode, please a follow or subscribe to the. Please also rate, give us a review, tell us what you’d like to help us spread the word I’m so passionate about helping people transform their lives, mind, body, and spirit.

And so I can’t do it alone though. I need your help. So share this podcast episode with someone who, you know, that might struggle through the holiday so it can help them as well. Listen, thank you so much for joining me today. I appreciate your time and your attention. I will be back here next week with a brand new episode and until.

Don’t forget, you can see all the show notes and other resources for this episode over at transformationornutrition.com. And I’ll see you back here again next week for another amazing episode.



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