By Valerie Driscoll, Lead Coach and Coaching Program Developer for Apollo Health

“Summer, celebration, and older” were the words I typed into the search engine as I looked for an image to accompany Apollo’s Mastering Nutrition for Cognition marketing email. Out of 100+ photos that popped up, there was a single usable option. Why, might you ask? Well, every other photo contained some form of KetoFLEX12/3 non-compliance: wine, margaritas, hamburgers with grill marks and buns, potato salad, orange juice, corn on the cob, desserts, marshmallows! My frustration as I scanned the photos turned to bemusement as I thought, “What the heck did you think was going show up with those parameters? This is precisely how 95% of the world defines summer celebration.”

In my experience as a facilitator and coach, the word celebration often begins a story of getting off track, falling off a wagon, or any one of the other metaphors that describe a lack of forward progression. As KetoFLEX12/3 followers, celebrations are among our most threatening times “out in the wild,” where we are preyed upon, not by lions and tigers and bears, but instead by family, friends, and festivities. I refer to this season as “the dodge days of summer” as evasive maneuvers need to be employed in order to stay mostly true to the game plan.

Last month, I wrote about mindfulness work as a process of stabilizing and calibrating ourselves, and these concepts apply well to the challenge of celebrations. Stabilizing requires building a solid foundation of core habits and skills, creating an ever-strengthening base. As with anything, some of us come built with a strong and steady foundation, and some of us have to work harder at it. As celebrations can bring ninja-level challenges, they are an exceptional place to create a better base.

Here are some great ways to stabilize:

1) Admit to yourself that this is a challenge; in most cases, you are going to be the outlier in a group, and outlying can be tough for those who do not embrace it, which leads to #2.

2) Embrace it, for you are also the celebration! Whether you do your embracing like a Greta Thunberg or like a Beyoncé doesn’t matter, but by following the Bredesen Protocol: you are a disruptor, a pioneer, a visionary, a maverick, a rebel, a badass — choose your adjective, but choose one that makes you stand a little taller upon your foundation. You have made yourself a science project that is going to change the world! Yup — CHANGE THE WORLD. You deserve this celebration — you are the Greta /Beyoncé of cognitive decline — so own it.

3) Know your stuff: print out your Grocery Guide, study the Brain Food Pyramid and Apollo’s nutrition guides. Be able to look at a buffet table and assess within a minute or two what your inner Beyoncé will eat and what food will just not meet your criteria.

4) As always, apply some self-compassion for all the work you are doing. Take a breath, give yourself some grace, and keep going!

Calibrating is the ability to quickly and easily make adjustments from your foundation when temptation looms. Mindful calibration allows you to create a response, rather than a reaction, to a trigger, and any celebration you go to is likely to have more triggers than balloons. Good calibrating, at the novice level, requires a good bit of preparation and calm; the calmer you can be, the less preparation you will need, so prep accordingly. Hopefully, these suggestions can help:

1) Anticipate your key triggers – Remember people, places, and things. What is going to require the most agility? Will it be someone asking what you want to drink, the carrot cake you did not expect, or the chocolate fountain?

2) BYOB – Bring Your Own Bottle of flavored seltzer, mocktail, or iced tea and immediately put it into a party glass. Remember, drinking alcohol is a double whammy — not only does it raise blood sugar and act as a neurotoxin, but it also makes us do other dumb things.

3) BYON – Bring Your Own Nosh. If you think you might be stranded in a KetoFLEX 12/3 food dessert, offer to bring something for the festivities that you can eat. Don’t fuss as to whether anyone else will like it; Beyoncé would never worry about that, and neither should you, although bonus points if you can make people realize that good food can actually taste great.

4) Have your elevator pitch ready, just in case anyone asks why you are eating or drinking in a particular way. Telling your story might also be changing someone’s life for the better.

Armed with the above and any other tools that feel right to you, you are ready to face any gathering that comes up this summer season. Know, too, that thousands of other protocol followers are out in the wild doing the same.

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