It’s the beginning of the week of Thanksgiving! I don’t know about y’all but I LOVE Thanksgiving for a few reasons, like: family, gathering, EATING, a break from school/work, and because the rest of the world joins in celebrating Christmas (yes, I’ve become that person starts the Christmas season BEFORE Thanksgiving… older and wiser, I say!)
However we all know about the general coma that Thanksgiving induces. I don’t just mean the initial food coma after your second serving of turkey either. I’m talking about how crazy our schedules get even after that Thanksgiving feast. The truth is, the holidays can be a little rough on the health and fitness routine, but it really doesn’t have to be that bad! Here’s a few tips on how to get through Thanksgiving without totally wrecking your fitness train (and, best part: it’s applicable to the rest of the Christmas season!)
- GET IT IN WHILE YOU CAN
When it comes to fitness as a lifestyle, the biggest mistake I’ve made in the past is being so religious about my schedule that I end up skipping what could be a good sweat session for the sake of order. For instance, usually my week looks like Monday: legs, Tuesday: short run, Wednesday: arms, etc… so if I got to Tuesday and it was raining outside or I was running behind on time, I’d let it throw me so far off that I’d just skip it.
How is this relevant to Thanksgiving? Your schedule will most likely be whacko this week. If it throws you off, don’t skip the chance to burn some calories. Can’t go to the gym cause it’s closed? Go for a walk or hiking if you’re near an area that allows it. The weather’s bad? Find space in your house or apartment to at-home HIIT workout. Don’t let disorder throw you completely off. Something is better than nothing, and it’ll help you bounce back easier the following week.
2. INDULGE IN WHAT MATTERS– BALANCE IS KEY
The biggest challenge at Thanksgiving is that there is SO MUCH TO CHOOSE FROM. Usually, my game plan going-in is this: Thanksgiving happens once a year, so let it be the day you indulge a little. Just make sure you choose wisely. For instance, rolls and cornbread happen year round. Forego the bread so you can have a little pie for dessert. Or you may be crazy about some sweet potato casserole. Get some of that and forego the dressing. You get the idea. Have what you enjoy, but skip what you don’t really care about.
3. PORTION CONTROL– CUE THE HORROR MUSIC
This one’s the hardest for me. Personally, I find it easier to get small servings of what I want and then go back for seconds if need be. No matter, what I always make sure that I have a decent amount of turkey so that I fill up easier before going back for round 2 or dessert.
Also important, portion control doesn’t have to look like model-sized dollops of food on your plate. It just means that you don’t pile your plate sky-high. Remember, your body has to have fuel, and Thanksgiving -just like any other meal – is an opportunity to fuel your body. The principle that starving your body slows down your metabolism is extremely true. Which brings me to my next point….
4. DON’T STARVE YOURSELF ALL DAY UNTIL THE FEAST
This is a terrible idea on so many levels. Not only does it set you up to overeat when the dinner bell rings, but it also messes your metabolism up for the day. It doesn’t happen overnight, but when under eating occurs your body goes into preservation mode and will preserve far more calories as fat than fuel. Look at it this way: your stomach isn’t a bucket that transforms food into energy or fat. It’s just a small part in digestion that leads to the converting of food to energy. And you need energy all day. So don’t skip meals to save up room for one!
5. GET IN A HEART PUMPING WORKOUT AT LEAST 2 DAYS AFTER THE FEAST
Another popular notion in the fitness world these days is that you can’t outwork what you eat. True, but you also can’t out-nutrition what you don’t burn off. I’ve said it before, but your body stores any unused energy (food) as glycogen for up to 48 hours after you’ve eaten. After that, it will become fat. But what that means is that after an indulging meal, you technically have 2 days to get that stuffing burned off. So be proactive about it! If you have both days to work out, then use both days!
I’d recommend that at least one of those days be some type of HIIT training or Tabata intervals. Here’s why: HIIT will take your body into carb burning mode. The heart rate level required for that is usually at or above 160, and typically your heart doesn’t sustain that in steady state cardio, but it usually will in a HIIT workout. Since that Thanksgiving feast won’t yet be stored as fat, you need to burn off those carbohydrates, and a HIIT is an excellent way to do that.
And with those 5 tips, you should be able to reasonably ENJOY your Thanksgiving holiday without feeling guilty and without completely sabotaging any progress you’ve made physically. Just remember the most important thing: to relax, enjoy family and friends, if you eat a couple bites too many it’s not the ned of the world, and be THANKFUL!