Tomorrow is Thanksgiving and while everyone enjoys time with friends and family, and a couple of days off work, if you are trying to lose weight or stay fit, the annual feast can be intimidating. To help you make it through Thursday without a food coma, here is your Thanksgiving Fitness Survival Guide!
Skip the morning parade and hit the gym. Be honest; you don’t really want to spend your Thursday morning watching giant cartoon character balloons and C-list celebs tie up traffic in New York City, so why not use this time to sneak in a workout? Many gyms are open, albeit briefly, on Thanksgiving, and a little morning exercise will get your metabolism going and create a nice last-minute calorie deficiency before you belly up to the big kid table.
If you are out of town for Thanksgiving, exercising can be a bit trickier as you don’t have the familiar confines of your regular gym at your disposal. Weather permitting, you can visit your or your spouse’s old high school and jog around the track. Not only will this burn calories but also the trip down memory lane will conjure up memories for the two of you to talk about.
Snowed in? We’ve got you covered. Find a nice open area. With extended family loitering around, this task might be a touch difficult, but an empty basement or even bedroom will do. Alternate between bodyweight squats and pushups, doing three to five sets of as many reps as you can.
Turkey Day Tip: If you want to amp it up a notch, find some household items like a bottle of liquid laundry detergent to hold while you do your squats.
Eat a healthy pre-feast snack. This might seem counterintuitive to eat before you eat, but hear us out. Lots of people don’t eat all day, knowing that they have an avalanche of food in their future. The problem with this method is that your body goes into starvation mode and when it comes time for Thanksgiving dinner, you feed your face until your pants are too tight and you nod off on a recliner while your nieces and nephews draw all over your hands and face with every colored marker in the box. Trust me, I’ve been there.
If you allow yourself a nutritious snack like a bowl of fruit, a plate of veggies, or a cup of yogurt and a banana before the big show, you will be less likely to overeat. Plus, there is the snowball effect. Starting the day with healthy choices establishes momentum for more healthy choices. As an added bonus, you won’t wake up with a rainbow on your face.
Eat pilgrim portions. Fight the impulse to stack turkey on top of turkey, build a mountain of mashed potatoes, and scoop helping after heaving helping of stuffing on your plate. Take a cue from the times of the first Thanksgiving when the Pilgrims and Indians didn’t have the luxury of riding horseback to Wal-Mart or any other grocery superstore to buy in bulk. Take just enough to satisfy you, not stuff you. When it comes to turkey, one serving is 2-3 ounces, about the weight of a deck of cards. For your sides, use the eye test. You know how much is too much. Once you have cleaned your plate…
…Play the waiting game. After you have finished your reasonably sized plate, wait a while. Watch some football. Help clean. Talk to your great Aunt Gert about her hip replacement. Give your body some time to digest instead of immediately filling your plate again. If you are still hungry after 15 minutes or so, go ahead and eat a little more, but commit to eating less food than you put on your first plate.
Draft Your Dessert. We are not going to tell you to skip dessert, we aren’t. As a matter of fact, we are looking forward to dessert the most. Treat your dessert choice like you are drafting a fantasy football team—take the best player available. If you are dying for a slice of pumpkin pie, have one. If cookies are more your thing, by all means, eat one. But here’s the catch. Your fantasy dessert draft has only one round. Pick the treat you like the best and eat one helping of it. Leave the rest alone. They might taste fantastic and give you the sugar-rush you need to avoid a Thanksgiving nap, but they won’t be worth the time it takes to burn off the calories on Black Friday.
You can do this. If you follow these guidelines, Turkey Day will just be a speed bump on your fitness journey, not a complete detour. Make healthy choices so you don’t have to put a bigger pair of pants on your Christmas wish list.
Good luck and Happy Thanksgiving!