Thanksgiving 2020 Recommendations, no matter what your goals are:
- ENJOY EVERYTHING ABOUT THIS DAY!
2020 has been a hell of a year. If you’re like me, you’ve experienced every emotion possible. From sadness, to anger, fear to elation. A lot has gone on that’s out of our control and to some degree, what has been in our control has been worthwhile and probably helped you grow in some way shape or form as a human being (at least, that’s my hope!).
This year, coming up on holidays that are typically spent with family, sharing copious amounts of delicious food, good drinks and lots of laughter, my expectation and hope for myself, my family, my clients and anyone reading this blog, is to fully enjoy EVERYTHING about this day.
You may have decided to forgo large gatherings (of which I will not comply – yes, I will get political here too), or may have decided to rebel against un-constitutional mandates. Whatever your decision and choices this year, make sure you fully grasp the intention of this day. To be THANKFUL for what you have. To be thankful for what others sacrificed so we could celebrate freedom from tyranny, freedom to worship freely, freedom to work – the Pilgrims came here, risking everything, so we could enjoy such freedoms.
To not enjoy such a day is, I feel a true slap in the face, to all those who died to get to this land, who fought for this land (not saying it was always right what happened) and to those who continue to fight against the powers that be.
To enjoy this day also means to enjoy what we see, feel, eat, drink, who we get to be with, what we do, etc on this day. It’s a celebration. If you are not enjoying what is it for?
When we truly enjoy, from a health and fitness perspective, the food we eat and drink we feel fulfilled. There is also something that happens in our brain (I’ll spare you my psychological perspectives) that helps us refrain from over doing anything (like finishing off the whole pan of pumpkin cinnamon rolls…. guilty *raises hand*). Allowing yourself to enjoy and not deprive yourself of the things you truly enjoy – yes, food and drink is something to truly enjoy – releases you from the binge/restrict cycle many experience at Thanksgiving.
No matter what your health and fitness goals are, learn to enjoy these celebrations. Don’t use them as a time to ‘test willpower’ and don’t see them as something you’ll have to ‘make up for in the gym’. It’s one day to truly enjoy the blessings of this life.
2. CONTROL YOUR CONTROL-ABLES
Instead of throwing in the towel completely in the name of enjoyment, you’ll find that you will enjoy your celebration a bit more (in my opinion), if you pick a couple of things to control through the season. Having one or two actions that you can easily control sets you up to not over do the food and drink and also feel good after the indulgences because you set yourself up for success in other ways that ultimately take away the guilt of what you didn’t control.
Example: Choose to take a couple of short walks on Thanksgiving. Perhaps in the morning before festivities start, before the big meal and then in the evening. We’re talking 20m of walking at three times / day. Leisurely, enjoyable walks with family or friends. Grab some hot tea and enjoy some crisp air and some good conversation. Leisurely walks are known to lower cortisol (let’s admit it, Thanksgiving can be stressful with family, schedules, fear of foods, etc so lower stress hormones can be a lifesaver on these occasions!). Walking provides your muscles and body with some very good movement (keeps the bowels moving as well as prevents the body from getting stiff) and when you do something good, like moving, you will find that your ability to control other things in your day much easier.
Pick 2-3 things you will commit to controlling. My top 3 are below:
3. DRINK WATER!
This is my number one controllable no matter what season or celebration I am living through. We have plenty of potable water in this world. Commit to drinking it. You’re made up of water, without it you die, so drink more of it.
On Thanksgiving and other holidays, I always commit to 1 gallon, minimum. I buy a gallon at the store and take it with me. I commit to myself to finish that gallon before bed. Regardless of other drinks – yes, I drink alcohol and coffee on these days – my gallon will be gone before I go to bed at night.
Water helps shuttle the nutrients we eat to our muscles and other cells. If you’re going to take in an abundance of nutrition, might as well use it.
Water helps our bowels work and move. No one likes to eat like a pig, then look like a pig, not to mention have a belly that looks a bit more rotund because nothing is moving through the system.
I can almost promise you that if you commit to and actually do drink 1 gallon of water during the days of feasting, you will feel leaps and bounds better than when you haven’t in the past.
Whether this is short walks throughout the day, as I mentioned above or grinding out your typical training session prior to the festivities, moving is top 3 most beneficial things you can do for yourself. Working nutrients and glucose through the system, giving your body a reason to use the food you’re giving it and releasing feel good hormones will benefit not only your mood but your body as well.
Grab the football and play some catch with the kiddos, walk the dog, play wii or anything that gets you off the couch and locomoting (I made that word up, according to grammar check).
And on that note:
The day AFTER Thanksgiving or other festivities should not be spent laying around either. Take advantage of the extra fuel your body consumed and hit some PR’s in the gym, or just do some better lifting, run a little faster/longer, hike a little farther. Use what you were given to do something good for your body.
5. PROTEIN FIRST
Assuming you have no issues regarding eating protein (ie kidney disease, etc), focus first on eating protein. Then enjoy the extras. Protein is filling, satiating and is difficult to store in the body in excess.
My plan is always to first fill my plate with turkey, or other meats. That will take the majority of space on my plate. Then, veggies – regardless of what is on the veggies (green bean casserole, salads, and others). Then the space left on my plate is filled with the rolls, Jell-O salads, potatoes and other fun and highly palatable treats.
Another thing to mention here is to pick your must haves as far as foods. What are the foods you are MOST looking forward to eating? Can you eat just those and be satisfied? If so, don’t feel any pressure to eat anything else. If you feel like you’re going to miss out by only eating those foods you most look forward to eating, take a little less of the MUST HAVES and eat a little of everything in general.
It’s really about making choices that will make you happy, better and what will encourage satisfaction in the end, rather than taking no responsibility and making decisions that will make you feel guilty, sick, gross or unsatisfied.
If this means you have two cinnamon rolls, rather than one cinnamon roll and asparagus with cheese, then have the 2 cinnamon rolls and move on without the asparagus. Is that the best option? Maybe. Maybe not. Might be the better option in the end if eating one cinnamon roll and the asparagus causes you to have the second cinnamon roll anyways and you end up feeling stuffed and in a huge caloric surplus that you feel bad about. Stop trying so hard to make decisions to be ‘good’ and make decisions to be ‘satisfied’.
In the end it comes down to:
If you end up not controlling your control-ables, life will go on. If you do control those control-ables and end up feeling gross, life will go on. You are not going to ruin any progress on one day. You will be just fine.
After the festivities:
Don’t punish yourself in the gym or by not eating for days after or going on an overly strict ‘diet’ because you enjoyed a little extra on one day. If you take drastic actions following an over feed, you are setting yourself up for more failure. Please reach out to me if you’re unsure how to set yourself up for success after and during the holidays!
Use those extras for a better workout (not a guilt ridden workout).
Keep drinking water – the best way to flush water is to drink more water.
And as an FYI, the extra foods you eat will not automatically be stored as fat. To be stored as fat, you’d have to consistently over eat for long enough that your body would start being unable to adapt to the overconsumption.
Most likely, you’ll retain some water because of the extra carbohydrate content of the foods you eat (every gram of carbohydrate your body stores in the liver and muscle cells will store with it 3-4+g of water). It’s just water. So drink more water and you’ll see much of the excess be flushed via urine, sweat and energy expenditure within a few days max.
That water can help muscles lift heavier, longer, better.
Now go enjoy your holidays with friends, family and whoever else you chose to celebrate with. Remember why we celebrate this day and spend some time being grateful for the opportunity to live in a country that we do, because of the sacrifices made before us. This year, it seems those sacrifices may come again soon.
Please worry not but stand for the good, the right, and the already fought for.
Happy Thanksgiving 2020!