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3 Strategies to Avoid Gaining Weight over Thanksgiving

3 Strategies to Avoid Gaining Weight over Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving marks the beginning of a joyous holiday season that includes spending time with family, exchanging gifts, and reflecting on the blessings of the past year.

It also marks the onslaught of delicious meals that are capable of completely derailing your fitness. Ugh—you can almost feel your waistband getting tighter…better loosen up that belt.

Here’s the good news: If you put the right plan in place, you won’t come out of Thanksgiving and other big holiday meals carrying 10 extra pounds with your diet in shambles.

This piece includes the exact strategies you need for before, during, and after the big holiday meal. If you can master each of them, you won’t have to refuse a piece of grandma’s famous pumpkin pie.

Three Strategies for Surviving Thanksgiving

As we approach the holidays, we all fall into one of three categories:

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  • You’ve already hacked your fitness and are maintaining a lean physique. You can employ a few of these strategies to minimize the fallout, but since you’ve put in the hard work all year, the holidays should be a breeze.
  • You’re smack dab in the middle of a cut and you’re dreading having to face the holidays just as you’re starting to see some upper ab definition. You contemplate moving out of the country and converting to another religion to protect your fitness progress.
  • You’ve struggled with fitness all year and, quite frankly, you’re sick and tired of messing with it. After all, 2017 is just six weeks away. You decide to f*ck fitness, enjoy the holidays, and deal with the fallout starting January 1.

If you fall into category 1 or 2, I have to applaud you for being proactive about the impending holiday binge and looking for strategies to minimize the potential fallout. You’ve come to right place. We’re going to get you through the holidays with minimal fat gain.

These strategies work better if you’re already eating clean and lifting heavy (although you can still use them if you’re not) and can also be employed for any big cheat meal, not just holidays.

Strategy 1: Make the Holiday a Workout Day

Your first step is to make sure the holiday meal falls on a workout day.

You want to do this because you’re allotted a higher calorie budget on workout days, and when you’re facing the prospect of a big meal, you need the biggest budget you can get.

If you’re not lifting heavy, just get some kind of workout in, whether it’s a lift or cardio. Even if you just burn 100 calories at the gym, that’s 100 more calories you have for dinner.

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Strategy 2: Employ Eat Stop Eat the Day Before

An advanced strategy for the holidays is to employ Brad Pilon’s Eat Stop Eat fasting protocol where you actually fast for 24 hours before the big meal.

For Thanksgiving, you would eat a big dinner Wednesday night and then begin your fast. You won’t eat anything on Thursday until the big Thanksgiving dinner is served.

This strategy isn’t for everyone, but if you’re already used to fasting or have serious mental discipline, a 24-hour fast will seriously help you minimize your holiday weight gain.

Strategy 3: Save Your Carbs & Fat for the Big Meal

If you can’t handle a 24-hour fast, use the lunch before your big meal to get in 75-80% of the protein you need for the day and save your carbs and fat for dinner.

Protein is always hard to come by during holiday meals. Aside from the turkey, everything else at Thanksgiving dinner will mostly be carbs and fat. By focusing on protein during lunch, you can afford to indulge during dinner with sweets and starchy dishes like mashed potatoes, stuffing, and all sorts of bread.

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This strategy works even in the off season if you’re just eating at a restaurant because protein is usually the most expensive item on most menus while fat and carbs are abundant in the side items you order. If your big meal is happening at a restaurant, research the menu beforehand so you know exactly what you’re going to order and how many calories the meal will cost you.

Regardless of where you’re eating, if you need to eat a second, smaller meal right before dinner, that’s totally fine. I call this tactic “pre-eating” and actually recommend this strategy for a couple reasons:

  • If you don’t get all your protein in during lunch, you can get the rest during this meal.
  • You’ll go to dinner with a full stomach and will be less likely to indulge.

What to Do About Booze

Alcohol tends to go hand-in-hand with any sort of celebration, and just like food, it has the potential to negatively impact your fitness if you’re not prepared.

You should avoid beer due to the carbs and pass on sugary mixed drinks. If it’s frozen or has an umbrella sticking out of it, give it to your friend who’s waiting until January 1 to tackle fitness.

Stick with red wine or a hard liquor with a zero-calorie mixer like Coke Zero or club soda. As we’ve previously covered, you really do lose when you booze. But if you’re selective with what you drink, you’ll have a higher chance of keeping your diet intact and avoid a hangover.

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The Day After Ultimately Dictates Your Success

The single most important part of any celebration or binge holiday meal is the day after. Whatever unfettered gluttony happened the night before, you have to bounce right back the next day and resume your regular diet and exercise routine.

No Bloody Marys or greasy burgers for lunch. You had your fun the night before. There’s a limit on how much fat you can add in a 24-hour period. Even if your Thanksgiving dinner was 10,000 calories, you’ll only add a limited amount of new body fat. Basically, you won’t come out of Thanksgiving 10 pounds heavier.

But if one bad meal becomes a second and a third, and you throw in the towel and decide to start again with your diet on Monday, you’re venturing down a slippery slope. This kind of mentality is the fastest way to end up 10 pounds heavier come January 1.

All that said, you shouldn’t be afraid of cheat meals like Thanksgiving. Life is too short to stress over meals that are about bringing people together to celebrate a joyous occasion. Remember, preparation is the key to being in control of every situation you face in life.  So plan accordingly, be thankful for all that you have, and have a happy Thanksgiving!

Featured photo credit: thekrazycouponlady.com via prod-cdn.thekrazycouponlady.com

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Last Updated on November 20, 2020

Kickstart Your Morning Workout With These 10 Simple Habits

Kickstart Your Morning Workout With These 10 Simple Habits

Benjamin Franklin said it like this: “Early to bed, early to rise, will make a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.” He knew from his own experiences and watching others that the ones who got up early were healthier and more successful. That’s why a morning workout can be so important.

One 2017 study found that:[1]

“after controlling for such factors as age, sex, smoking habits, and others…night owls, were found to have a 10 percent greater risk of dying from any cause compared to morning types.”

This is a great reason to tap into some morning motivation and get your morning workout done.

Circadian Rhythm for morning workout

    As you can see in the above graph, your blood pressure begins to rise between 6 and 7 in the morning[2]. That means this is a great time to get your body moving and your heart pumping, even if it’s just for 20 minutes of exercise in the morning. 

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    Here are some tips on how to find the motivation for a morning workout.

    1. Remember Your Why

    It starts with remembering why you want to get up for a morning workout. If you don’t set a goal and establish your reasons for accomplishing a health and fitness goal, then you definitely won’t get up early.

    Getting up early isn’t easy. If it were, everyone would do it, right? Your goal for your health and fitness must be so strong, and the WHY behind it must be so powerful, that nothing will stop you from accomplishing that goal.

    2. Go to Bed Early

    If you want to get up early for a morning workout, it’s going to be important to get to bed earlier. Falling asleep at midnight and trying to get up at six just won’t work in your favor.

    This will likely be very difficult for a few days while you adjust your sleeping habits. However, as you get into an exercise routine in the morning, this will naturally make it easier to fall asleep earlier and faster at night.

    3. Make a Commitment

    I sometimes tell my Facebook community of my plans to work out, and we all keep each other motivated by posting our runs, our workouts, etc. This is a way to develop accountability. By publicly announcing your intentions, you increase your chances of actually carrying out your plans.

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    Another way to do this is to find an accountability partner who has similar goals for morning workouts. You can check in with each other to make sure you’re sticking to your plans. If that doesn’t work, hire a personal trainer for a few weeks to get you started.  

    You can learn how to find a good accountability partner here.

    4. Find a Friend

    If you can find a friend that is motivated like you are, and you can hold each other accountable daily to working out, then you will accomplish your fitness goals. Many people prefer working out with friends to working out alone. Whether it’s a chat while hitting the treadmill at the gym, or having someone to spot you while weightlifting, working out with friends is sometimes just more enjoyable.

    Texting each other the night before with a simple statement is best. Don’t ask: “Are we still working out in the morning?” With this kind of question, if they were thinking about not working out, you just gave them an opt out.

    Make a statement instead: “Can’t wait to see you in the morning!” This implies that they will be there, and they will feel more obligated to show up.

    5. Treat Yourself

    We all have to treat ourselves every now and then. After a morning workout, plan to treat yourself with a colorful, healthy breakfast or a delicious morning smoothie. This will help you look forward to something and push through to the end of your workout.

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    You can learn more on rewards and punishments here.

    6. Change your Mindset

    Many people throw away the idea of a morning workout by simply saying, “I’m not a morning person.”  Instead of using this excuse, decide to try to become a morning person by shifting your mindset.

    When you look into the benefits of waking up early and getting some exercise in before your day starts, you’ll feel more positive about your life overall.

    7. Plan Your Day

    You know you’re going to be busy. Try time blocking to plan all the things you need to do on a given day, and make sure you add in your morning workout[3]. If you have a plan laid out, you’ll be more likely to follow it and get done everything on your list done.

    Time blocking

      8. Reflect on How You’ll Feel After

      Starting a morning workout is hard, but visualizing how you’ll feel after can help you find motivation. Think about the extra energy you’ll have and how proud you’ll feel knowing that you were already so productive. No matter what you do the rest of the day, at least you squeezed in your exercise!

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      For me, I live in an area where there are a lot of runners. When I am heading home in the evening or sitting out on the patio at one of my favorite restaurants, and I see the runners go by, it makes me feel so accomplished that I got mine in that morning and I can enjoy the evening.

      9. Lay out Your Workout Clothes

      Setting out your workout clothes the night before makes it impossible for you to start to run late because you couldn’t find something to wear. Tap into the determination you have before bed in order to convince your less-than-motivated morning self that you need to get up and get your morning workout in. When you wake up and see your outfit laid out next to you, it’ll push you to get up and get moving.

      10.  Set Multiple Alarms

      Many people miss their morning workout simply because they hit the snooze button so many times. In order to make this more difficult for yourself, set a series of alarms. That way, if you keep hitting snooze, you’ll have three or four alarms going off every ten minutes, which will be annoying enough to get you out of bed.

      Also, put one alarm at least a few feet from your bed so that you’re forced to get up to turn it off.

      Final Thoughts

      About three years ago I went from being the person that says I will never be an early riser to a person that loves to get the day started as soon as possible. Without the distractions that begin to come around 8 or 9 in the morning, you’ll find that you’re more productive and more likely to squeeze in that morning workout.

      Take some of the actions above and find the best morning workout routine to start your day and feel good.

      More Tips on Morning Exercises

      Featured photo credit: Tomasz Woźniak via unsplash.com

      Reference

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