Thanksgiving is right around the corner, marking the beginning of a 5-week holiday celebration that can and often spells doom for one’s health and fitness plan.
In just a few days, families all over America will be sitting down to a meal which looks back to that first Thanksgiving.
Feasting together is as old as the human race. It is a way of celebrating and enjoying time with family and friends. But if we are not careful, we can overdo the festivities and end up setting ourselves back over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend.
It’s hard to believe, but the average Thanksgiving meal contains 3,000 calories and 229 grams of fat. And most of us don’t limit ourselves to one indulgent meal. It’s typical to snack and celebrate all day long!
The trouble comes when we have to deal with those extra calories that we have packed into our bodies:
“A 160 lb. person would have to run at a moderate pace for four hours,
swim for five hours or walk 30 miles to burn off a 3,000-calorie
Thanksgiving Day meal,” said Dr. Cedric Bryant, ACE chief exercise
physiologist. Many people start by snacking throughout the day and
that combined with the meal can lead to a total caloric intake of 4,500.
Let’s face it: it is hard to stick to a healthy eating and exercise plan during the holidays. Everywhere we turn there are tempting foods and drinks—from treats at office parties to our own traditional family favorites. When you add in a busy schedule filled with shopping and get-togethers that make it tough to squeeze in exercise, you have a recipe for disaster as far as our scales are concerned.
The good news is that you really can get through the holidays without gaining weight. It will take some effort, but you will thank yourself a thousand times when January 1st rolls around and you have no regrets!
A Few Tips for Turkey Day
The good news is that you don’t have to forgo your favorite holiday foods. There is room for a little indulgence at a holiday feast! The secret is to have a plan as we head into the holiday season. By staying on top of both your calorie intake and your physical activity, you can enjoy your favorite foods in moderation and emerge on the other side just as fit as you are now.
Your Goal: Maintenance
In order to greet the New Year without tipping the scale, it is wise to try to maintain your weight during the next few weeks instead of trying to lose. Remember: you want to enjoy the holidays, not be miserable from deprivation. This means that you will allow yourself occasional treats and splurges and keep the scale where it is rather than trying to actually decrease your weight.
There are several ways to accomplish this:
Look at the big picture, Keep up with how you eating during the several days surrounding Thanksgiving. It’s not a good idea to indulge at every opportunity that presents itself. If you splurge heavily one day, take it easy the next.
Plan your meals. If you know that you are going to be having some heavy, celebratory meals in the upcoming days, limit your intake at other meals to help keep your diet balanced out. Don’t skip meals, but make them lighter and be sure to include plenty of healthy, lower calorie foods. For instance, if you are going to have a big lunch, eat a smaller breakfast and dinner.
Eat breakfast. People who eat breakfast consume fewer calories throughout the day than those who skip this important meal.
Pre-Eat. Never show up at a party or buffet ravenous—you will most certainly overeat. This is setting yourself up for complete and utter disaster. Pre-eat before you go, with a small amount of food that will increase your feeling of fullness, prevent cravings, and slow the digestion of any foods that you do eat when you go out.
Try these foods for pre-eating foods:
Small Salad – This has been consistently shown in scientific studies to reduce the amount of food you eat in the subsequent meal. Having a salad before you go to a party, or having a salad as your first item at the party, could help you eat 200-300 calories less.
Apple & String Cheese – The apple provides fiber and volume while the string cheese provides fat and protein. These components will signal your body that you are full and slow down digestion (making you feel full longer).
Watch your portion size. If you have an idea of how much food you are putting on your plate, you will be less likely to overdo it. Take a look at the chart to familiarize yourself with portion sizes as they compare to your hand.
Deal quickly with leftovers. If you have unhealthy leftovers in your home, you are likely to indulge. Don’t leave them sitting around. Freeze them, give them away or toss them. It’s not worth the temptation!
The last thing you need this time of year is a slowed-down metabolism. Staying active is a great way to give your body a fighting chance to negotiate the extra calories you will be consuming.
Don’t skip your workouts. Even moderate intensity workouts can burn 300-400 calories per hour. You need this calorie-burn to keep up with the richer food that you will be eating. You will also be less likely to overeat if you have just sweated through a hard workout!
Finally, Check in with your future self.
Every day, speak to yourself from the future—say, from January 1. Thank yourself for doing the tough work of self-discipline during these holiday weeks. You might say something like this:
“Thank you! I feel great! I’m no heavier than I was in November, I’ve
stayed on track with my exercise, my energy is incredible and I’ve
got the momentum to spend the rest of the winter getting in even
better shape before spring gets here!”
Holiday weight gain isn’t inevitable. You can survive the holidays with no added weight gain. There is no need to pack on the pounds this Thanksgiving. Figure out your strategy now, and then when the festivities start, just work the plan.
Remember and put these simple tips and strategies into play to control the greatest source of holiday weight gain and keep the pounds off this year. Have a vision of what you want to feel like on January 1 in mind. It’s going to be a great holiday season!
Hope the tips help. Until next time
Best in Health