Thanksgiving Week. For some of us, it’s a time of bounty- a time to get down on gains. For others, it’s a source of anxiety. Maybe we have weight-loss goals, maybe we’ve been doing real well and making progress with nutrition and fitness. We don’t want that undone, and worse, we don’t want the slippery slope of holidays to undo our progress.
Don’t stress, just keep these tips in mind for Thanksgiving Week:
1. Focus on the Week, not the Day
This means you aren’t a failure if you go off the rails for one day. Knowing Thanksgiving is a big day for food, glutton and treats, consider setting yourself up well for the rest of the week. Meal prep and focus on whole food, quality proteins in the days leading up. This will provide healthy balance. Health isn’t just calories.. it’s social!
On Turkey Day, start with a nutritious meal- whether it’s a smoothie, some eggs or a protein shake. Be mindful and keep away from anything too heavy since that will allow you more leeway for the rest of the day. Or just skip breakfast/fast (more to come on that).
2. Be Mindful
Know what you want before you get it. Are you a mashed potato person? Well load up. Don’t take the other sides if you don’t really like them. Don’t worry about hurting people’s feelings. We’re all adults. Eat what you want and don’t take food just to be polite. You’re the one who has to live with your body, not Aunt Gertrude. And maybe you don’t want Aunt Gertrude’s gut-bomb mystery stuffing making your gunbelt tighter and pinchier every time you sit.
3. Pace Yourself
Fill your plate halfway or 2/3 rather than overflowing. First, you can sample and figure out what’s best and what you’ll truly enjoy. This goes back to obligatory eating in an effort to not offend someone. We all know the best part of Thanksgiving is long-haul eating, so you may as well take moderate plates and go back for more when you so choose.
4. Protein First
Protein is the most satiating, nutrient dense macro. So load up the turkey and enjoy. Just like any other day, the more protein you have, the more full you’ll be (in a good way). You’ll feel good, be satisfied, and will be less likely to overdo the other stuff.
5. Work it Out
Smash the weights, do a bodyweight circuit, Turkey Trot, or take the family on a stroll while the oven is doing its thing. This will prime your body to burn calories and utilize the stuff you inhale later (make your food work FOR you). After your dinner (or between rounds) throw the ball around out back or take a stroll around the block. Light movement is shown to help digestion, and will prevent that comatose state where you’re holding your belly and groaning for an hour.
6. Practice a Fast
Intermittent Fasting is somewhat of a fad lately, but it can be useful if it does not breed unhealthy eating/binging. Essentially, you take a break from eating, from 12-16 or more hours. It is linked to helping with blood sugar regulation and reducing cravings. So, one option is you stop dinner the day prior at 1900 (7pm) and don’t eat again til 7am.
That’s 12 hours, and shown to be helpful. If you have some black coffee or water and skip breakfast, you’re doing great, maybe you wait until noon or 1 pm to break your fast. Again, if you find yourself gorging, then fasting might not be for you. For many, it’s just something you have to practice like stretching a muscle, it will get easier.
*I would not recommend HARD workouts fasted if you aren’t used to it. Light to medium exercise should be fine for most active people.
Podcast: Huberman Lab, Episode 41: Effects of Fasting on Fat Loss and Health
Amazingly thorough and explanatory discussion on all things fasting (windows, types, performance)
7. You Didn’t Fail
Often in diet culture, if we “slip” we give up. If I eat 2 cookies, I’ll eat 5 more. Why not? I already went off plan, so may as well accept it. This is short sighted, emotional, and unnecessary. Have the treats you want, ENJOY them. Savor and share, don’t unhinge your jaw and blackout. After all, it’s the holidays. But don’t feel like having a slice or two of pie means you have to have half a pie. Don’t feel like you have to extend Thanksgiving Day eating into Thanksgiving 4-Day Weekend Food Frenzy.
*Or do, but I expect P.R.s on all your major lifts each day. (fist bump emoji)
**I’m not a doctor, this should not be taken as medical advice- it should be taken as gritty, useful, awesometastic advice.
Enjoy your wonderful holiday, family and friends. If you liked the post, please share it out. Be well and stay gritty!