There’s a million Thanksgiving Survival Guides out there from a variety of health and fitness professionals. This is the only one you need to read.
Thanksgiving Survival Guide : Read This First
Let me start by saying, you don’t have to follow any of the advice I’m about to give you when it comes to “surviving” Thanksgiving. The truth is that you can do whatever you want, I’m not your Dad or your Boss. You can make the call when it comes to how you approach Thanksgiving and I promise you there will be no judgement from me.
However, if you’re interested in how a former overweight, depressed and confused guy like me (plus my clients) handle the Thanksgiving holiday feast…read on!
The Problem with Trying to Survive Thanksgiving
Whenever someone contacts me in panic about how to survive Thanksgiving, there are usually one of two reason why. First, that person has been near perfect with their diet and training and are deathly afraid of losing all their progress. This is something that I can definitely relate to after losing 80 lbs of body fat and working to keep it off over the past 8 years. That fear of eating to your hearts content and then somehow waking up back inside your overweight body is something out of a horror flick for sure.
The second reason that someone would freak out over Thanksgiving is due to the fact that they haven’t been disciplined with their diet and now the fact that they’re entering a calorie feast makes them super insecure about their lack of consistency. The realization that they should be more strict and focused on their nutrition is slapping them in the face and they start to regret the time they’ve wasted. It’s like when your vacation creeps up on you and you realize you forgot to get lean. That panic button gets hit real quick!
Both scenarios are understandable, but completely unnecessary. The problem with the whole “Surviving Thanksgiving” idea is that it elevates one day of high calories to a state of national emergency when it’s truly not justified. Imagine if one day of fasting (zero food) would mean that you’d wake up malnourished and anorexic. If you’ve been doing great with your nutrition and workouts – one day won’t derail you (unless you allow it to to turn into a week or two of over-eating). If you haven’t been on track then it’s time to take action and get on track, but in the meantime be sure to enjoy Thanksgiving. One day won’t make or break you.
Skip Breakfast on Thanksgiving and Enjoy Dinner
There are a few strategies that can work for making Thanksgiving a bit more controlled. However, my best advice is to keep it simple. Counting calories or trying to watch portions is fine if you really want to. But, I’m guessing you won’t so the best bet is to keep your food intake low to zero earlier in the day and just waiting to feast later on. Funny enough, most of my clients follow intermittent fasting where they skip breakfast and wait 4-6 hours after waking up to eat their first meal. This translates very well to Thanksgiving, so if you’re already following this approach don’t change anything. Maybe keep lunch light or munch on some appetizers before enjoy a good amount of food for dinner (plus some dessert of course).
The only real rule you might want to think about is never eating to the point of being sick. That’s just unnecessary. Being so full that you feel like throwing up is terrible for you. Eat to your heart’s content, but don’t get sick. Being satisfied and full is fine, but thinking about pulling the trigger is flat out dumb – don’t do that.
Enjoy A Few Drinks if You Feel the Urge
Food and alcohol is something I usually suggest clients avoid combining, but in this case – who cares? Happiness isn’t just about being fit and healthy. At times happiness and enjoyment means drinking a few drinks and enjoying some alcoholic beverages with friends and family. If you’re someone who enjoys a cocktail or two, have at it. Try and avoid a ton of sugary drinks, but if you end up having some higher calorie beverages, don’t panic…you will be ok.
Once again, my only rule of thumb here is to avoid getting sick. Plus avoid being the “drunk” of the party. Nobody likes someone who’s too tipsy, unless you get really funny and entertaining when you drink like I do (no joke, it’s the truth). Just be sure to avoid driving if you drink and be responsible.
By the way, my favorite drink for any occasion is a Moscow Mule. Vodka, spicy ginger beer, and lime juice…amazing! Don’t forget the copper mug!
Workout if You Have Time and Energy
I highly suggest getting a morning workout in the day of Thanksgiving. Why? It simply feels awesome to start the holiday off after an awesome workout! Plus, burning a few extra calories never hurts right? It will get you fired up to enjoy the day to the max and since you’ll be eating and drinking, you’ll feel much more at ease knowing you got a good sweat on prior to the day’s events.
If you’re following a workout program that’s been working great – just stay consistent with that. Or if you’d like to try something new, here’s an awesome and fun workout to try:
- 1 Mile Run
- 50 burpees to pull-up
- 1 mile run
- 50 burpees to pull-up
- 1 mile run
Or you can give this one a shot:
20-1 Ladder (Do 20 reps of each movement, then 19, then 18…all the way to 1)
- Medicine Ball Slams
- Push Ups
These are just examples of some fun (and challenging) workouts that can be added to your current routine or done on their own.
Relax and Enjoy the Day
If you only take one piece of advice from this article – take this one: RELAX and ENJOY the Day! Happy Thanksgiving!
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What Happens After Thanksgiving is What Really Matters
The biggest issue people struggle with is getting back on track after a splurge day like Thanksgiving. Leftover food and alcohol sit there in front of your face and tempt you to consume it all. You think “Oh this shouldn’t go to waste” and next thing you know Thanksgiving Day turns into Thanksgiving 6 weeks.
Your best bet is to enjoy the Holiday, give massive thanks and remind yourself to be thankful and full of gratitude daily (not just once a year). Send the leftovers home with relatives and store the alcohol for a special occasion. Clean up the house and get back to business on Friday. And by business I mean your daily routine.
I can’t lie, this might be challenging, but be prepared to face resistance and temptation to keep the party going. Just keep in mind that Christmas and New Years is now within reach so there will be parties and more food coming your way, therefore it’s important to stay ahead of the game. The cool part is that within a few days you’ll see the Thanksgiving bloat and water weight go away and you’ll be back to where you were (maybe even slightly leaner) after a few short days of consistent eating and training. Just promise me you’ll send me thank you email for encouraging you to live life instead of sweating the small stuff.