By: Darrell W. Butler
ACE, NFPT, ISCA Certified Personal Trainer
Well it’s that time of year again; the fitness goal crash and burn season has officially arrived! Actually, for many of us the season began when we first started to polish off that leftover Halloween candy. However,the official downward spiral normally starts with Thanksgiving, where we binge to the point of having to request the next pants size up on our December wish-list!
Then, of course, we party it up on New Years Eve because “starting the next day, our resolution will be to not fall into the same bad habits the next year”…until we do.
The fortunate thing about Thanksgiving and the other aforementioned holidays is that they happen at the same time every year. These dates are not a surprise. They’ve been on the calendar for months now, and that’s really good news because it means that we can plan around them.
Realistically Thanksgiving is a wonderful time to spend with family and friends, so if you’re one of the select few who has actually managed to stick to your fitness goals all year, feel free to just enjoy yourself without stressing too much about the scale. I’ve always maintained that with an otherwise healthy lifestyle, you can do just about anything in moderation, so go ahead and take the day off, recharge and come back to your fitness routine the next day refreshed and refocused!
The rest of us, however, may need to put a little extra thought into coming up with a game plan to not let this day lead to our demise. Come on people, it doesn’t have to be this way! It’s time to break the cycle, starting with Turkey Day! So here are seven surefire ways to avoid packing on the extra pounds this Thanksgiving weekend!
1. Drink a few glasses of water before your meal. This serves multiple purposes. Aside from being great for easing with digestion and overall body functioning, the water will make you feel fuller, which will allow you to feel more satisfied with less food. The water will also help to offset some of the effects of the higher sodium content found in many of the foods consumed on this day.
2. Tell your friends and family about your fitness goals, so that they can help support you. If you’re close enough to the host, they might even make a few lighter options for you or you can bring a healthy dish of your own. If nothing else, this will at least help to explain your actions, which in a supportive environment should empower you to resist going overboard with temptations.
3. Pass the sides! In particular, try to resist overdoing it with sauces and bread-based side dishes. Your safest selections are salads, green vegetables and lean cuts of turkey. Go heavy on those items and leave the gravy soaked stuffing for the birds!
4. Get up once you’ve finished eating. Most of us are good at eating in moderation that first time around, however by rounds two and three, you may have a problem! if you still want to remain social and someone else has also finished their meal, try and take the conversation over to another area of the house, away from the table where you’ll be tempted to have another serving.
5. Stay active after the meal is over. Instead of stuffing yourself and falling asleep on the couch in a food-induced coma, try going for a walk or playing with the kids, anything to possibly burn off a few of those calories. You should also start your day off right by exercising that morning. That will keep your mindset focused on staying in shape, and will rev up that metabolic engine to keep it burning strong throughout the day.
6. Do not take any leftovers! I should clarify; you should take turkey and leaner sides but leave the desserts, fatty sides and sauces for someone else! Of course if you’re hosting, make sure that you send the desserts, fatty sides and sauces home with your guests. It’s essentially a tug-of-war for who will be stuck with the temptations in their house for another week so make sure that you’re on the winning side of that battle!
If you absolutely have to take something as not to offend your host, and couldn’t wrestle away one of the healthier selections, try to find a neighbor or charity to donate the food too so that you won’t be tempted by having it in your home!
7. Make good choices for the rest of the weekend! Just because you might take some extra liberties on Thanksgiving Day, that’s not a license to binge all weekend! Try to go back to eating well and working out as soon as possible instead of letting that single day of pleasure turn into a two-month caloric nightmare!
Also, make sure not to skip meals the next day to “punish yourself” for eating poorly the day before. Instead, try to have several smaller healthy meals and drink plenty of water to help flush your system.
Obviously the holiday season is a rough time to stay on track with your fitness routine, but if you can apply even one of these tips you’ll be better off in the long run. Keep your goals in clear focus by either writing them down or buying an outfit in the ideal clothing size that you’d like to be. Hang that in the front of your closet so you’ll have a visual reminder of your goal every time you open the door!
Of course, if all else fails, your best bet for losing weight this Thanksgiving weekend is to invite my brother, who has somehow managed to get both drumsticks and the lion’s share of red velvet cake every year since 1977. Thanks Dwayne! I’ll see if he’s available to travel…