Well, Thanksgiving aka THE ULTIMATE CHEAT MEAL DAY, is upon us and for some that could be the opening of Pandora’s Box when it comes to staying on track with your health and fitness goals. According to the John Hopkins Weight Management Center, people gain 7 – 10 pounds between Thanksgiving and New Years Eve. Which isn’t too surprising with most people packing in around 3,000 calories during their Thanksgiving Meal. (That’s right, I said meal, that doesn’t include the post nap leftovers and late night turkey sandwiches).
On top of that, Thanksgiving kicks off the Holiday Party and travel season, where your calendar gets filled with social events and visiting friends and family. Which can lead to higher stress, minimal sleep, and less time to spend on your needs, wants and goals. I know that I am being a bit of a downer when it comes to the holidays, as it pertains to your health and fitness goals, but you can still be victorious this holiday season and stay on track!
Here are my top 10 Tips & Tricks to Survive Thanksgiving & The Holidays
- Have a Plan: As I mentioned, this time of year can be stressful and you can be pulled many different directions, but if you can take the time now to plan out your holiday schedule with work, social events, travel, and family, you will feel less stressed, which will keep your cortisol (aka the Fat & Stress Hormone) levels down. Once you have a better idea of what your holiday season will look like, take some time plan out your workouts. Your workouts should be a priority and when you schedule things into your calendar, just as you would a meeting, your chances for working out increase greatly.
- Set Realistic Goals & Have Realistic Expectations: Chances are, you won’t be able to spend as much time working out or meal prepping as you would want during this Holiday Season, which is totally okay. The key is to make a valiant effort, but also realistic with what you can physically do. If you know that you only have 30 minutes to workout, focus on doing High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) workouts that get your heart rate up and burn fat in only 30 minutes or if you can’t make it to the gym, hop on to YouTube and find a workout video to do at home. If you are on the road and can’t do a full meal prep of your meals, at least pack healthy snacks to take with you and do your best to make healthy choices at non-social meals. The key is to have a “No Excuses” mentality and make it work.
- Be Mindful: This one is a great one for Thanksgiving, as you will be bombarded with tons of food, the key is to think about what you are eating and pay attention to how your body feels. On Thanksgiving, I aim to have half of my plate full of all of the green vegetables that are available – salad, green beans, brussel sprouts, etc – then I add the turkey. Most of my meals consist of green veggies and protein, so I’m still able to be on track. After that, I take a small scoop of whatever carby deliciousness I can find – stuffing, sweet potato casserole, cranberry sauces, macaroni and cheese. Remember, it’s just a scoop! When eating my meal, I take my time, chew eat bite and enjoy each morsel. I also give myself a 20 minute break after my first plate, to decide if I am still hungry (which I’m normally not). This helps to keep me from overeating and ensure that I actually enjoy my meal without feeling stuffed. I also give myself a designated dessert time, so that way I can be ready to really my dessert. Here’s a video that gives a great overview of how to create your plate for Thanksgiving.
- Stay Hydrated: Remember that there are many calories hidden in many holiday beverages. Your best bet is to stick with drinking as much water as possible throughout the day, as many times, we mistake thirst for hunger. When it comes to your holiday meals and parties, alternating between a cocktail and a glass of water (sparkling, if you want to be fancy) is your best bet to stay on track. I personally, love a glass of champagne, as it is lower in calories and quite festive. If you want to get ideas of how to jazz up your water, check out these fruit infused water recipes.
- Eat Breakfast: One of the best ways that I have been able to stay on track, during the holidays or when I travel, is to make sure that I eat breakfast. I aim to have a breakfast that has a good mix of protein, fiber, and good carbs, to ensure that I stay full throughout the day and get a good dose of nutrition to start my day. Eating breakfast during the crazy holiday season, can also help you to avoid overeating when attending Thanksgiving Dinner and holiday events. Before Thanksgiving eat a big, yet healthy, breakfast to ensure that you arrive for dinner not starving and you will be able to enjoy your meal and yourself, without feeling stuffed or without the guilt of eating 3,000 calories.