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Thanksgiving is right around the corner and for most women the stress of keeping up with fitness through the holidays is REAL and the anxiety over all the food is no joke.
So if you’re wondering how to avoid getting fat yet still live your life, you’re in the right place.
I’m ALL about eating the stuffing, the wine and the pumpkin pie and more importantly, celebrating with the people I love. This is a time for joy! Not a time for worrisome feelings and regret. And it took me a long time to get there. So before I get started, I just need to say that there is no judgement if you have ever done any of these “not so good” things in the past. I personally have done ALL of them and that’s why I wanted to talk about this topic and share what I have found that truly works for my sanity and my happiness.
Here are my Do’s And Don’t’s for exercising & eating around Thanksgiving:
IF you can lift weights or resistance train rather on Thursday morning sometime, you’re GOLDEN! I mean, you already know that by lifting, your body breakdown muscle and then when you eat you are repair your muscles and enable them to grow which increases your strength and speeds up your metabolism. Knowing you’re probably going to eat in a surplus, you might as well put those calories to good use! aka muscle. It’s a win-win.
If you can’t get to a gym because well, covid, or really whatever other reason, no worries! The next best thing you could do is a home based workout with bands if you have them or even a bodyweight workout can be super effective. You can do things like HIIT or tabatta or follow a Youtube video – there’s so many options.
The next best option after that is cardio. I prefer running and if this wasn’t the year 2020, I might even recommend signing up for a Thanksgiving 5k. I made that a tradition with friends for a few years and it was a ton of fun. Because that’s what your exercise on Thanksgiving should be! F-U-N. IT shouldn’t be punishment for what might happen later. Do it because you love your body – not because you hate it!
My #1 tip of all time is to never show up to the party starving.
I can’t tell you how many times I have intermittent fasted before a dinner party only to get there and not be able to control myself around the apps, I’d drink way too much before dinner was even served and then I’d just be on auto-pilot and I’d inhale my food without thoroughly enjoy the taste. What a shit show. What’s worse it I continued to do that for a long time without even realizing I actually had the ability to not be starving – who woulda thought?!
But seriously, when I feed myself the day before and the morning of and even have lunch, I actually take my time when the food is served and it’s a much better experience all around. For me, the day before thanksgiving looks no different than an average day. The morning of, I do not fast or try to hold out as long as I can but I do modify my meals with less carbs and fats because I know that’s what I’m going to get more of later.
I know I’ll most likely be lacking on protein in the evening so I focus on getting protein in the morning and having plenty of volume for veggies. For example, my egg muffin bites recipe in my Funsized Recipe Library works perfect for this! Or even just an egg white omelette with peppers, onions and bacon. Lunch might be chicken and veg and some rice. But you get the idea. I def don’t have as much carbs and fats but they are still there to hold me over so I don’t show up ravenous.
When it comes down to the actual thanksgiving dinner there’s 2 different ways I would go about portioning out foods. The one way I would NOT measure my portions is getting out my trusty dusty scale. Trust me, The last thing you want is to look like you’re on a diet because then snoody Aunt Judy is gonna say some passive aggressive remark and make you feel even worse.
So anyway, when it comes to portion sizes, you can be discret with these 2 methods. The first is put using your hands. Now, there’s the traditional way and theirs my way. I dunno about you but since my body is petite, my hands are petite and if I only use the palm of my hand for protein, I’d only get 2 bites. So I take a little modified. So for protein I do the size of my entire flat hand from wrist to tips of fingers, for carbs a fist, for fats 2 thumbs (like gravy!) and for veggies whatever would fit in 2 cupped hands. I will put a diagram of these in my stories to help. Oh and for dessert, Make a heart with 2 hands and fill that up. Fun story, I was looking for a visual to post and I noticed none of them have the portion size for dessert and I was like well that’s no fun! Who has thanksgiving dinner without dessert??? So here’s my version:
The second way of portioning out food is using your plate. I prefer this method better because I love having a full plate of food. First, I always always always start with the protein. I fill up 1/4 plate with turkey. Then an entire half of the plate is mostly green vegetables from green bean casserole, brussel sprouts, salad, you name it. Now just keep in mind that these veggies are probably cooked with oil or butter and have sugar or breading or bacon or some other carb all over them. And it’s totally ok! but keep in mind that because of that, the remaining quarter of my plate is the super dense stuff like stuffing, yams, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, and what ever else your little heart desires.
Now I love wine and liquor but I love food way more and I much rather eat my calories than drink them so it’s easy for me to have 1 glass and call it a night. The thing about alcohol is that it’s so prioritized by your metabolism that it actually prohibits your body to break down any of the food until the alcohol is out of your system. So the more you drink, the longer it will take for your body to get through all that food. And I think just knowing that alone is another reason it’s easier to cap out at 1 drink. I prefer to sip on sparkling water in a fancy glass with a lime in it and it looks like a cocktail so nobody even knows, it’s fine. Besides, I rather save room for dessert!!
And okay guys, I gotta be honest. If you downloaded my Pocket-sized Holiday Eating Guide, you’d have seen that I said have a miserable slice/piece of dessert. Well…. I dunno about you but one slice is definitely not enough for me. I’m way more likely to have 2. AND I don’t give a FUCK! I know now that those 2 pieces are NOT going to make me fat. There have been so many years that I would beat myself up over overindulging and I’d workout so hard the next day because I was so scared of gaining weight and the truth is. I wasn’t gaining weight! It was all in my head.
Besides, You’ve heard this so many times but it’s worth repeating… one bad meal isn’t going to ruin all your progress. So even if you ate without a care and however it may please you, if you get on track the next day you will be ABSOLUTELY fine!
With all that being said.. It’s not how a person eats on Thanksgiving that makes them gain 5lbs over the holidays… it’s what you do on all the days in between the holidays that determine that.
Now, that’s not permission to go and do 2 workouts and and extra long run the next day. Honestly, no matter how much you eat, you don’t have to make up for it the next day with extra cardio. Just get back on your regular schedule.
Also, do not fast the next day. I mean obviously, if you wake up and you’re not hungry you shouldn’t force feed yourself. But if you wake up and you’re hungry.. eat girl!
The cool thing that happens when you eat in a surplus on days like thanksgiving is that your leptin levels actually shoot up which boosts your metabolism which is the reason why you feel hungrier than normal after a large day of eating. That’s totally normal and a good sign that things are working exactly as they should.
But like I said, the mistake most people make is that they continue to eat like its Thanksgiving all weekend long. If you get back on track the next day, you’ll lose any bloat you might have had very very quickly. Girl, I’m all about leftovers but I use them wisely and this is when I’d measure them out with my food scale and try to track as best a possible.
But, whatever happens on Thursday, I want you to know that regardless how much you eat or drink, you are not a failure.
Just because you don’t stick to my plan doesn’t mean you’ve failed. Success looks different for everyone but here’s the real key piece here… Remember, it’s just one day… It’s just one meal! One day isn’t going to ruin your progress. So whatever you eat and whatever you drink, ENJOY IT! You deserve it!