3 Tips to Survive Thanksgiving on a Weight Loss Journey
Turkey Day is here! Here are my top 3 Tips to Survive Thanksgiving on a Weight Loss Journey
Gobble, gobble! It’s that time of year, so put on your pilgrim shoes, make a handprint turkey, stock up on pumpkin puree, and watch Planes, Trains, and Automobiles. Thanksgiving seems to get walked all over by it’s flashy sibling, Christmas, but it still gets its day.
Pumpkin season, in general, seems to start earlier and earlier every year. I mean, Starbucks’ Pumpkin Spice Latte came out on a hot, steamy, summer August day! That’s a long time to contend with all the “limited time only” treats you wanna shove down your gullet before time runs out. Spoiler alert: there will always be a limited time only treat available, I guarantee it.
So before I go into my top 3 tips to survive Thanksgiving on a weight loss journey, I want to stress how important it is that you treat “treats” as such: treats. You don’t need a 400 calorie PSL sugar bomb every morning on your way to work to get the most out of your 3 months of corporate, retail fall. Don’t buy Christmas candy in October. It’ll still be there in December. Don’t succumb to the “it’s the holidays!” mindset unless it is, in fact, the actual holiday. It’ll make the treats, goodies, and special days that much more special, I promise.
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Thanksgiving is upon us!
Now, let’s focus on Thanksgiving specifically. It’s literally just days away at this point. How you approach your Thanksgiving celebration(s) can have a significant impact on how you feel come Cyber Monday. My goal, and probably yours, too, is to feel healthy, happy, and strong at the end of the weekend. Here are my top 3 tips for surviving Thanksgiving on a weight loss journey.
1. Have a plan.
We’re going into a holiday that revolves around food. And family, sure, but mostly food. This year is special in that families are finally able to get together again, in person, thanks to the COVID vaccine – hallelujah! The social aspect of this Thanksgiving is going to be off the charts compared to last year. Social events and gatherings are challenging when it comes to weight loss, and even weight maintenance. The wine is flowing and the charcuterie boards are spilling over with good ol’ high-calorie comfort.
In order to survive, without blowing your diet and pride out of the water, you need to have a plan. Your plan will be made up of intentions, and specific, trackable goals.
Plan to pack your meals and snacks for the road instead of stopping for fast food. If that’s not an option, check food labels at gas stations and restaurant nutrition information online. Buy and order food according to your goals. This means it may not be the most delicious thing on the menu, but that’s ok. Sometimes a fit girl’s gotta do what a fit girl’s gotta do. Especially considering Thanksgiving dinner, drinks, and desserts are on the upcoming menu.
Someone else preparing your meals?
Eating dishes you don’t prepare yourself, or even have any idea what ingredients were used in making them, can be stressful for a macro-tracker like myself. Or anyone on any sort of weight loss and fitness journey, really. Plan to nail the meals and snacks you have a bit more control over as best you can.
Stash some things like protein bars, meat sticks, apples, baby carrots, and pre-portioned servings of pretzels in your purse, coat pocket, and/or glove compartment when you’re away from home. Focus on and prioritize lean protein and volume foods when possible.
It’s easy to forget to drink enough water when you’re out of your routine, so plan to bring your water bottle with you wherever you go. Staying hydrated has a bigger impact on managing and preventing hunger than you might think.
2. Know this is not your last meal.
You are not on death row and this is not your last meal. It’s not the last time you’ll ever eat turkey, potatoes, stuffing, and pie. You can make that shit any day of the year, by the way. Jus’ sayin’. Just because Thanksgiving glorifies these food items doesn’t mean they are only available on Thanksgiving. In fact, you’ll be faced with a damn near identical menu in a month when Christmas rolls around. So chill.
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Identify your mark.
When you think about your absolute favorite Thanksgiving food, what ONE dish immediately comes to mind? THAT’S your mark. Make sure that item is on your plate, and reach for some protein on the side for good measure.
If what came to mind for you was the turkey, you’re in luck because it covers this requirement! Two birds, one stone. Or would “one bird, two stones” be more appropriate here? In any event, you make 100% sure you get some of the food, or foods, you absolutely positively cannot live without this holiday into that belly of yours.
Aside from that, be relentlessly discerning about what else you scoop onto your plate. But if there’s a raw fruit or veggie tray, definitely ravage that bitch. But ditch the dips.
This is no time to be polite.
An “a little of this, and a little of that” attitude is bull. Do not, I repeat, do NOT put anything on your plate just to be polite if you don’t actually want it. If, after the first bite of something you DID deem worthy of valuable plate space, you decide it’s not a “10,” zero more bites of it should pass your lips.
Get only what you came for, and to hell with the rest. If that means all you eat all freaking day is turkey and pie, then all you eat is turkey and pie. Are mashed potatoes and gravy all you really want? So be it. Even if it means your belly is full of nothing but cranberry sauce and rolls, you’re weird, but cool. Own it. It’s not your responsibility to eat food you don’t want for no reason. You do you.
3. Set some limits.
This could also be phrased “practice moderation.” But, that’s not specific enough.
Tell yourself you’ll make ONE plate of food, and refrain from reaching for seconds. Chances are you’re stomach is plenty satisfied after the first plate. And if anything, the food that is sitting out on the table in casserole dishes while everyone breaks bread will only get colder and less appetizing. Quit while you’re ahead. You can’t get a refund on calories eaten.
Limit yourself to ONE serving of dessert. Most desserts are very rich and sweet, and pecan and pumpkin pies are no exception. You don’t need to eat ½ a pie or a dozen cookies to satisfy your sweet tooth. Take or slice smaller pieces and, again, if it’s not a “10,” put down the fork. Your taste buds and waistline will thank you.
Limit yourself to a certain number of drinks. My magic number is 3. I always ALWAYS regret the 4th alcoholic beverage. Whatever your number is, don’t go over it. You’ll thank me when you’re energetic and headache free.
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Hold yourself accountable to your intentions and stay strong. If holding yourself accountable isn’t enough, ask a friend or family member to help.
This may sound silly, but I’ve specifically asked my husband to intervene if he notices me going off the rails with food. In turn, he’s asked me to police his alcohol intake. We both know our, and each other’s, weaknesses in these types of social settings. Neither of us want to feel like garbage over the long holiday weekend. So we’re doing each other a solid by holding each other accountable to the intentions we’ve set for ourselves.
Perhaps your accountability partner will be yourself, a significant other or family member, a long distance friend, or your food tracker app. Whatever it is, commit to it.
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Holidays and goals can coexist
The holidays are for fun, yes. But that doesn’t mean you can’t also keep after your goals while having your fun. Plan ahead, eat only what you can’t live without, define your limits, and follow through.
Catch up with family, laugh with friends, and watch some football! Just do your mingling and cheering out of arm’s reach of the snack table, and you’ll not only get outta this holiday alive, but you’ll feel alive. None of this bloated, hungover, food coma on the couch nonsense for you. That’s not what the pilgrims would have wanted. 😉
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Find me on Instagram to see my 3+ year postpartum fitness journey progress, and ups & downs. I share how and what I eat daily to maintain my 30 pound weight loss, and how I train to feel like a badass. As “badass” as a 38-year old stay-at-home mom of 2 in the ‘burbs can feel anyway.
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Here are the Thanksgiving goals I assigned for myself last year (2020), and posted to my fitness Instagram account:
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