Thanksgiving has always been one of my favorite holidays. I love the food, love getting together with family, and it signals the beginning of one of my favorite times of year – the holiday season!
But there is a downside too, and I’m sure you already know it – the holidays are a time that can wreak havoc on your physique, even if you have the best intentions to stay on track from now until after New Year’s.
Personally, I think it is a mistake to say that you aren’t going to have ANYTHING ‘bad’ over the holidays. That way of thinking is just a setup for stress, guilt and disappointment. First of all, erase the thinking that certain foods are BAD and OFFLIMITS. Once you set perimeters like that, you tend to want those foods even more. Instead, change your mindset. There are no bad foods … just foods that are healthier than others and you have the choice to eat whatever you want.
I used to think the only way to stay in shape was to avoid anything ‘bad’. It was the way I got in shape for a contest, so I figured that was the only way that it would work during the holidays as well. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case.
That approach caused me to binge and overeat during the times I could have whatever I wanted. It turned out to be a recipe for disaster. I needed to change my way of looking at food and most of all, I needed to understand that, although there are more nutritious foods than others, portion sizes are the key. A small cookie, a piece of chocolate or a slice or pie here and there isn’t going to kill your progress – as long as it happens in moderation and you don’t go overboard. A lot of times that is easier said than done.
So with that in mind, here are six tips that can help you enjoy Thanksgiving and all of the other holiday get-togethers. Plan it out, make healthy decisions 80% of the time and be smart about maximizing your muscle!
Happy Thanksgiving and Happy Holidays!
1 PLAN AHEAD
You know you are going to have a big dinner on Thursday. Hopefully we all are ☺ So make sure to stay on track the rest of the week by going to the gym each day and making healthy decisions with your diet. If you are tracking your macros each day, be sure to stay on target. That way, go over your macros for the day, (or eat more than normal) you can get back on track right away without much damage. It is when you have multiple days with an overabundance of food that the weight piles on – fast.
2 EAT BREAKFAST
Do not skip meals early in the day thinking that it will make up for the excess calories you will eat later. If you don’t eat breakfast, by the time the afternoon rolls around you will be starving and will DEFINITELY overeat, not to mention be tempted to snack on those not-so-healthy appetizers the rest of your family may be eating!
3 WORK OUT
Get to a gym, get in your cardio – both preferably – but if you can only do one, at least you are doing something. Getting in a workout will help rev up your metabolism for the rest of the day and will help you burn some of those extra calories you’re going to eat later in the day, and use some of them to recover and grow.
4 FOCUS ON PROTEIN
Most Thanksgiving and holiday dinners have a lot of “bad” carbs and fats – stuffing, gravy, buttery mashed potatoes, breads chips, dips, desserts and more. Start by loading your plate up with protein and vegetables first. By now 2/3 of your plate or more is taken up. Fill the remainder of your plate with your favorite foods. For desert, do the same thing with fruits instead of pastries and pies.
5 ENJOY THE MEAL, LIMIT THE ALCOHOL
When alcohol enters your body it is broken up into acetate and fat. The fat gets stored away and the acetate is used as your primary source of energy. Your body first burns off the alcohol calories. Only afterward does it get to the fat, carbs, and protein that you have inside of you. A sure way to delay the fat burning process is to drink alcohol. You’re actually stopping fat from being melted away.
Alcohol contains zero nutritional value and has a whopping 7 calories per gram – nearly as much as a gram of fat. And, as we all know, it also causes all inhibitions to go out the window, which most likely will lead to eating more as well. Follow that up with a hangover the next morning, which often results in another skipped gym session, and the effects start to multiply. The decision is yours, but to me I would rather enjoy one glass of wine (it has antioxidants lol) and a dessert and have a killer back workout the next day 😉
6 TRAIN YOUR WEAKEST BODY PART ON FRIDAY
Use all of those extra Thanksgiving carbs and calories for fuel! You’ll have more energy, more glycogen stores and will be able to use all of that to train harder, longer and get a great pump. If you plan it out so you can benefit from the meal, you’ll actually be able to use Thanksgiving to your advantage … rather than beat yourself up for going off-plan. Every time I have a cheat or treat, I train my weakest body part the next day. I just imagine the food being pushed into my muscle. Try it, I guarantee the workout will be amazing!