By Thomas Maranian
With only seven days until Thanksgiving and just over a month until Christmas and New Year’s celebrations, staying fit for some may seem overwhelming. The key strategy with what little time is left is to plan ahead. If you fail to plan, you will set yourself up for failure. Grab a pen and paper and set up a list of goals for yourself. Make a copy for your bedroom wall, kitchen, car, and office. Make sure you write down everything you want to achieve come the holiday season.
The first issue that must be addressed is overeating at Thanksgiving dinner. Breakfast is essential to a healthy diet and for maintaining a steady metabolism. By no means should you think that skipping breakfast on Thanksgiving is the right way to go. What you need to prepare yourself for is smaller portion sizes and the will power for self-control. A standard 2000 calorie diet could turn astronomically high into 3,000-5,000 calories with Thanksgiving dinner. That is over two days’ worth of food consumption! Turkey is delicious and to some extent, nutritious for the body. Yet with all the added side dishes including mashed potatoes, stuffing, gravy, and others, your standard size plate can turn into two, or even three extras. And with that comes one too many servings. A vast majority – if not all – families tend to usually include a wide variety of appetizers before the main course, and desserts afterward. From trifles to pies to cakes, one festive gathering can turn into a never ending feast. This is why proper caution and delicacy must be ushered beforehand to avoid the potential threat this one day can have on your health.
A neat trick that you may never have thought of before is actually quite simple: up your fluids before the big meal. Drink a good amount of fluids (only water) before heading to your aunts, grandparents, or friends house for Thanksgiving. Water is the greatest gift of all. You will be amazed by how full you will feel after consuming a good amount. This will also leave you wanting to eat less at dinnertime seeing as you won’t have as much room left for it all. Keep a bottle with you at all times. Just make sure to stay hydrated. If you are truly invested in maintaining a healthy lifestyle, then only drink water! Juice, soda, smoothies, and even coffee and tea offer no nutritional benefit to you. Sugar makes up most of the components of these drinks, and sugar is a short term energy source that turns into fat. That is what you are trying to avoid! Water is the way to go, every day.
As any proper diet goes, you want to set up a meal plan for yourself. At this point, you probably have been going to these dinners for more years than you can count, and what is being served is second nature to you. That being said, this makes it easier to set up what you will aim to avoid, and what you will allow yourself to eat. If your diet all along has been 1,500 calories per day, then that is exactly what you want to eat on Thanksgiving day. This holiday – as much as we would like – is not an excuse to let loose and eat everything in sight. Fitness and nutrition is definitely a delicate matter that cannot be manipulated to our liking. The numbers add up in the end, and to ensure you remain healthy this season, your number one priority is not to make any rash changes. Whatever calories you typically take in on any given day, make sure you stick to that. Eat around that throughout the day and leave room for the big dinner. Just because the food is in sight does not mean you have to eat it all. Discipline yourself to eat only what you know ahead of time will ensure you don’t add unwanted weight.
Although numbers on a scale don’t necessarily define who we are, they certainly have a major impact on our diets. Many people immediately jump on a scale after the festivities are over and are so hard on themselves for what they see. Anywhere from one to ten pounds (and possibly more) can be added to your weight after this holiday. You might think that now, more than ever, is when you do not want to jump on that scale. But that is a false mentality. If you plan ahead and eat like you normally do, the scale does not need to be the enemy.
Of course Thanksgiving dinner is more a time to catch up with family and friends than anything else. And the good thing about this time of the year is that the cold weather has kicked in. Use that to your advantage! Get out there and ramp up your cardio. In addition to planning a healthy days’ worth of food for the special day, set up a workout plan as well. There has been huge increase in the percentage of young adults who are introducing fitness into their lifestyle. There is much and more to get out of it, there is no argument to that. What you can do to make sure you maintain a well-balanced and healthy lifestyle around the holiday season is to up your exercise routine. It is known that working out in the cold increased the amount of calories your body burns. Therefore, high intensity interval training is the greatest ally come these next few weeks. Basically this form of exercise interval bursts of high intensity, followed by low intensity. In other words, if you are running outdoors, sprint for 40 seconds and follow it up with 20 seconds of steady state running. It is a sure way to save time, and the benefits are much greater than a 30-minute steady state outdoor run. With this interval training, you increase your heartrate substantially for a set time, and follow it up with a much lower state but for half the time. Repeat the process for as long as you can manage. The best thing about it is it promotes caloric burn up to 24 hours post workout. This is not limited to running alone. Weight training can mirror the exact same approach. Most of you have probably heard of it in the past, and are tired of hearing about it. You give it your all for as long as possible, and the rewards are everlasting.
In addition to upping your cardio, you can also make sure you are constantly moving. Do not stay seated for extended periods of time. Especially after all the eating you might end up doing, you’re going to want to stay active as much as possible.
In regards to the New Year’s celebrations, the same planning applies. Set yourself up for success, not failure. Perhaps with the passing of another year, and the start of a new one, you might want to change your lifestyle. Perhaps you have been researching fitness, nutrition, and health for some time, and now you want to make a big change to your life. Every resolution is a good one. If you truly hope to improve your health, it all starts with a simple plan. It all starts with you.