Healthy Hacks to Help Keep Your Fitness Goals on Track this Thanksgiving from Healthy Hacks to Help Keep Your Fitness Goals on Track this Thanksgiving
Healthy Hacks to Help Keep Your Fitness Goals on Track this Thanksgiving
Whether we’re training for a race, aiming to lose weight or working at improving our eating habits, for the most part, we all go into the holiday season with the intention of sticking to our fitness goals. But as Thanksgiving creeps closer and closer, more and more obstacles begin to pop up in our paths. Pumpkin and apple pies here, a few parties that get in the way of your workout schedule there… We trust you know how it goes: we’ve all been there before. It’s easy to fall off track.
And then of course, there’s Thanksgiving Day. You want to enjoy your favorite foods but you also don’t want to go overboard. Just thinking about how to find that balance is stressful for many, and actually implementing a strategy that allows you to do so can be difficult too. There’s really no reason to stress over your food intake on Thanksgiving Day, though. Even if you do go a bit overboard in a single day, your goals won’t be entirely sabotaged.
Nonetheless, we know you still care about your health and are determined to keep your goals on track, so to find out the best ways to have an enjoyable Thanksgiving without sending your goals spiraling off track, we chatted with Georgie Fear, a registered dietitian, pro nutrition coach and author of Lean Habits For Lifelong Weight Loss. Here she shares 10 simple and practical tips you can implement on Thanksgiving, all through the holiday season and beyond.
It’s just one day.
“Remember that Thanksgiving is a day,” Fear explained. “You don't want to get into ‘Thanksgiving Break’ mode for four or five days if that means overeating for that stretch of time, and shelving your physical activity habits.”
Ditch the diet versions.
“You don't have to convert your festive dishes to bland ‘diet versions’ to make your meal significantly healthier,” Fear said. “If you want real butter and whole milk in your mashed potatoes, use them! Just taste them as you go, adding a little at a time, and stop once it tastes good. You might add a lot more calories and fat if you just drop a whole stick of butter in at the start.”
Spend time outside.
“Use the extra time off to do something fun outdoors with your family,” Fear suggested. “Go for a hike together and you'll not only burn some calories and boost your heart health, it's a great way to spend time together, enjoy nature and have a conversation. If you have small kids, consider bringing a wagon along so they can hop in and ride when they get tired. They'll think it's fun and you'll get an ever better workout!”
“Volunteer to help sort food at the local food bank,” Fear said. “In a couple hours you'll move around a lot, meet some new people and feel good about helping out others who are less fortunate.”
Make grocery shopping more productive.
“Do your grocery shopping on foot. The key to making this a pleasant workout and not a backache recipe is to invest in sturdy, reusable grocery bags (the plastic handles on the free ones are much less comfortable to grip) and to load two of them equally,” Fear said. “Carrying one on the left and one on the right turns just another errand into a farmer’s carry!” Fear also noted that dividing the bags and carrying one on either side is a smart strategy in general since carrying weight on one side can worsen lower back pain.
Take part in a turkey trot.
“Enter a turkey trot in your town to see if you can beat your old PR in the 5K or 10K,” Fear said. “If you're not a runner but your spouse is, consider walking or volunteering. After a race, I always make a point to help out by picking up some of the ubiquitous paper cups that are often littering the ground. Besides lightening the cleanup task for the volunteers, it reminds me to stretch out my hamstrings and walk around a bit, before plopping into my car seat.”
Add more veggies to your meal.
“Add extra vegetables to your Thanksgiving feast to keep the spread interesting and also add nutrient-dense options to balance out the more indulgent fare,” Fear said. “Roasted or baked winter squash has half the calories of the same amount of sweet potatoes, and can be substituted in many recipes.”
Increase the intensity.
“Challenge yourself to try for an increase in your weights lifted at the gym, or see if you can increase the volume of your strength training routine by adding additional sets or reps with the weight you normally use,” Fear suggested. “Thanksgiving break can be a perfect time to challenge yourself athletically, when you have more time than usual to sleep and stretch, and you know you'll have abundant lean protein and carbohydrates around for recovery. Remember that even if you're in a calorie excess, you can be building muscle if you're lifting heavy.”
Slow it down.
“Slow down while you're eating,” Fear explained. “You'll enjoy your food more, take in more of the experience and be able to practice more gratitude if you aren't racing to get seconds before everyone else. You'll also end up being more mindful, and stop eating when you want to, as opposed to five minutes after you wanted to and having a bellyache.”
Live in the middle.
“I encourage my clients to plan to live in the middle of the spectrum, where the extremes are ‘rigid diet mode’ and ‘eat and drink everything’ mode,” Fear said. “Both ends of the spectrum don't feel awesome and have plenty of drawbacks, either in life quality or health outcomes. Your middle ground might include eating your favorite dishes with zero guilt, but also including some healthier and lighter meals, stopping at satisfied instead of stuffed, and keeping your drinking moderate so you can sleep well and also get in workouts.”