Q. Thanksgiving is here! How can I avoid gaining weight?
A. The fall season is littered with opportunities to fall off the fitness wagon: Halloween festivals and “fun-size” candies, November potlucks and the inevitable Thanksgiving Day feast, plus the holiday parties galore in December with Christmas, New Year’s Eve and so on. It is no wonder the holidays make fitness devotees apprehensive with weight-gain worry. After surviving many holiday seasons successfully, I can give you some tips that I have used to prevent the dreaded belly bulge.
Rule number one: workout first thing in the morning! Seriously–pump some iron, go for a run, hit the tennis courts or pool—do whatever it is that you enjoy that gets your heart rate up and your body moving. It’s hard to sit down to a heavy meal after a glorified sweat session. I know for me, it is difficult to swallow tempting treats that took me a hard 30-50 minutes to work off; it takes merely minutes to eat the calories that you burned in your morning workout—and most of us don’t stop there! We eat MUCH more calories than we can burn in one workout on Thanksgiving Day. The exercise will not only make you feel good, but it will also help rev up your metabolism for whenever you do nosh on your big meal.
Rule number two: drink lots of water all day; this will keep you hydrated and prevent you from snacking on tasty (albeit, high-calorie) tidbits until the big meal.
Rule number three: eat small, balanced meals before the “big” meal. Portions of protein (with sensible carbs) will keep you fuller longer than carbs alone, and the water content in fruits and veggies will keep your hunger in check for half the calories. Try having a veggie soup or salad before the feast; this will prevent you from ordering seconds.
Rule number four: pick a small portion of whatever you want to eat—the only catch is that it must fit on your plate so that you do not return for seconds; and no high tower of food! This defeats the purpose. I never deprive myself of what I want, I simply enjoy a small enough portion to fit on my plate and am satisfied. When it comes to dessert, choose a small plate and do the same thing—if you want two desserts, choose smaller portions and cut the crust, whipping, etc. that would add excess calories.
Lastly, do not feel guilty about enjoying your food and go for a walk afterwards, or play some flag football with the kids. Thanksgiving is more about family than food, after all.
Crystal Manjarres is the owner of One-On-One Fitness and Group Fitness Training studio for men and women on Marco Island. She is a certified personal trainer and Stott Pilates certified instructor. Her focus is “Empowering men and women of all shapes and sizes”. To send in a question, email [email protected] She can also be reached at www.101FIT.com, www.GFTMarco.com and (239) 333-5771.