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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 September 18, 2020

7 Simple Rules to Live by to Get in Shape in Two Weeks

7 Simple Rules to Live by to Get in Shape in Two Weeks

Learning how to get in shape and set goals is important if you’re looking to live a healthier lifestyle and get closer to your goal weight. While this does require changes to your daily routine, you’ll find that you are able to look and feel better in only two weeks.

Over the years, I’ve learned a lot about what it takes to get in shape. Although anyone can cover the basics (eat right and exercise), there are some things that I could only learn through trial and error. Let’s cover some of the most important points for how to get in shape in two weeks.

1. Exercise Daily

It is far easier to make exercise a habit if it is a daily one. If you aren’t exercising at all, I recommend starting by exercising a half hour every day. When you only exercise a couple times per week, it is much easier to turn one day off into three days off, a week off, or a month off.

If you are already used to exercising, switching to three or four times a week to fit your schedule may be preferable, but it is a lot harder to maintain a workout program you don’t do every day.

Be careful to not repeat the same exercise routine each day. If you do an intense ab workout one day, try switching it up to general cardio the next. You can also squeeze in a day of light walking to break up the intensity.

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If you’re a morning person, check out these morning exercises that will start your day off right.

2. Duration Doesn’t Substitute for Intensity

Once you get into the habit of regular exercise, where do you go if you still aren’t reaching your goals? Most people will solve the problem by exercising for longer periods of time, turning forty-minute workouts into two hour stretches. Not only does this drain your time, but it doesn’t work particularly well.

One study shows that “exercising for a whole hour instead of a half does not provide any additional loss in either body weight or fat”[1].

This is great news for both your schedule and your levels of motivation. You’ll likely find it much easier to exercise for 30 minutes a day instead of an hour. In those 30 minutes, do your best to up the intensity to your appropriate edge to get the most out of the time.

3. Acknowledge Your Limits

Many people get frustrated when they plateau in their weight loss or muscle gaining goals as they’re learning how to get in shape. Everyone has an equilibrium and genetic set point where their body wants to remain. This doesn’t mean that you can’t achieve your fitness goals, but don’t be too hard on yourself if you are struggling to lose weight or put on muscle.

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Acknowledging a set point doesn’t mean giving up, but it does mean realizing the obstacles you face.

Expect to hit a plateau in your own fitness results[2]. When you expect a plateau, you can manage around it so you can continue your progress at a more realistic rate. When expectations meet reality, you can avoid dietary crashes.

4. Eat Healthy, Not Just Food That Looks Healthy

Know what you eat. Don’t fuss over minutia like whether you’re getting enough Omega 3’s or tryptophan, but be aware of the big things. Look at the foods you eat regularly and figure out whether they are healthy or not. Don’t get fooled by the deceptively healthy snacks just pretending to be good for you.

The basic nutritional advice includes:

  • Eat unprocessed foods
  • Eat more veggies
  • Use meat as a side dish, not a main course
  • Eat whole grains, not refined grains[3]

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Eat whole grains when you want to learn how to get in shape.

    5. Watch Out for Travel

    Don’t let a four-day holiday interfere with your attempts when you’re learning how to get in shape. I don’t mean that you need to follow your diet and exercise plan without any excursion, but when you are in the first few weeks, still forming habits, be careful that a week long break doesn’t terminate your progress.

    This is also true of schedule changes that leave you suddenly busy or make it difficult to exercise. Have a backup plan so you can be consistent, at least for the first month when you are forming habits.

    If travel is on your schedule and can’t be avoided, make an exercise plan before you go[4], and make sure to pack exercise clothes and an exercise mat as motivation to keep you on track.

    6. Start Slow

    Ever start an exercise plan by running ten miles and then puking your guts out? Maybe you aren’t that extreme, but burnout is common early on when learning how to get in shape. You have a lifetime to be healthy, so don’t try to go from couch potato to athletic superstar in a week.

    If you are starting a running regime, for example, run less than you can to start. Starting strength training? Work with less weight than you could theoretically lift. Increasing intensity and pushing yourself can come later when your body becomes comfortable with regular exercise.

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    7. Be Careful When Choosing a Workout Partner

    Should you have a workout partner? That depends. Workout partners can help you stay motivated and make exercising more fun. But they can also stop you from reaching your goals.

    My suggestion would be to have a workout partner, but when you start to plateau (either in physical ability, weight loss/gain, or overall health) and you haven’t reached your goals, consider mixing things up a bit.

    If you plateau, you may need to make changes to continue improving. In this case it’s important to talk to your workout partner about the changes you want to make, and if they don’t seem motivated to continue, offer a thirty day break where you both try different activities.

    I notice that guys working out together tend to match strength after a brief adjustment phase. Even if both are trying to improve, something seems to stall improvement once they reach a certain point. I found that I was able to lift as much as 30-50% more after taking a short break from my regular workout partner.

    Final Thoughts

    Learning how to get in shape in as little as two weeks sounds daunting, but if you’re motivated and have the time and energy to devote to it, it’s certainly possible.

    Find an exercise routine that works for you, eat healthy, drink lots of water, and watch as the transformation begins.

    More Tips on Getting in Shape

    Featured photo credit: Alexander Redl via unsplash.com

    Reference

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