Wednesday, November 19, 2014

A Thanksgiving Survival Guide

What would be better than being able to make a Facebook status or compose a tweet telling everyone in your life that you actually lost a pound or two over the holidays? Considering probably only about 5-percent of the United States population will be able to do just that, it would have to feel pretty damn good. I'm not really sure about that percentage, but the more I think about it, the more afraid I become thinking it's probably extremely accurate.

For me, fighting the urge of overeating during the holidays is just like resisting the temptations of everyday life. If you're one of those lucky folks who has no problem eating healthy and staying active the rest of the year, eating a little extra over the holidays probably isn't a huge issue. However, if you're like me, obsessed with delicious food and frequently worried about any little thing that could derail your progress, being able to stick to your healthy routine over the holidays is very important.

Sure, Thanksgiving is really about giving thanks and being around your loved ones. It's about being thankful for everything in your life, both good and bad. But let's face it, you more often than not find yourself wondering if Granny is going to bring her famous broccoli casserole.
Here is my step-by-step guide to staying healthy and possibly shedding a few pounds over the upcoming holiday weekend:
---Let's pre-game. Take these steps to be prepared for the chaos that is shortly about to ensue:

1. Drink a lot of H20, and I mean a lot. Start drinking water as soon as you wake up Thanksgiving Day. Try to have at least 64 ounces before you even arrive to dinner. If you stay hydrated, your stomach will think it's full, forcing you to eat less.

2. Exercise before the festivities begin. You can tell yourself you're going to and plan ahead as much as you want, but you know just as well as I do, that you are not going to do any sort of physical activity after you eat on Thanksgiving. Plus, you never know how many times little Annie is going to ask you to play Candy Land.

3. Volunteer to bring a healthy dessert disguised as a fattening one. Since it's healthy, you can allow yourself a guilt-free serving, but since it also looks appealing to the rest of the family, you won't have to take it home and risk eating 100 "healthy" portions.

4. Make some food to indulge in at home after it's all over. One of my favorite parts about Thanksgiving is the leftovers. If you make some healthier versions of your favorite side items to eat over the next few days, you won't feel like you're missing out. For some great recipes, check out: BuzzFeed Life, Food & Wine, and Reader's Digest

5. Think of excuses in advance. You know your mother is going to force mounds of leftovers upon you as soon as you say you have to head home. You also know she is going to try several times, so have at least five good excuses in mind for why you can't take the food. Maybe even write them down on a piece of paper so you can read them after you've eaten. Moms tend to hit you at exactly the right time. You know, the time when you're still kind of full, but not full enough to stop  you from thinking about how amazing all of that food would taste tomorrow.

6. Wear pants with a button. Just trust me on this one. 

---Okay, I’m here. I really love my family, but I know their crazy is going to make me want to eat even more food just to keep from having to tell all of them why I’m almost 30 and not yet married. Here’s how to keep yourself in check at Thanksgiving dinner:

1. Stay away from the food as long as possible. Yes, in about a half an hour, Grandpa will say the prayer and then signal the herd to rush the kitchen. Hey, wouldn’t now be a great time to ask Grandpa about his favorite experience from the “good ‘ole days?” You might have to suffer through an awful story, but it will definitely save calories!

2. Make sure you're the last member of the family to hit up the buffet. Maybe Uncle Dave will go ahead and take three servings of mac & cheese so you won't even have to make the choice of whether or not you will eat it.

3. Eat your salad first. Everyone's heard this tip, and it really does work. But, don't put salad on your plate with your main course. Go through the buffet and get a salad first, then go back for the rest.

4. Eat smaller portions. If you absolutely have to have something your favorite aunt only makes during this time of year, have a little...but don't get crazy.

5. If you desperately want seconds, make sure everyone else has gone through the line again. Like the reason above, maybe all of the unhealthy food will be gone.

6. Eat even smaller portions. Don’t let how delicious it was the first time cause you to be absolutely miserable after the second time around.

7. Do not...I repeat, DO NOT unbutton those pants! Once you do it, you’re doomed. If you feel like your gut is about to bust out of your pants, let yourself feel uncomfortable for a little while. Trust me, after having that feeling for a good hour or so, you won’t have room for dessert.

8. Remember little Annie? Give her lots of sugar, and then chase her around the inside and outside of the house. Chances are she’ll make you get in a few laps.

9. Stay out of the kitchen. After your workout with the tiny humans, you may be feeling famished. Sure, you can eat a healthy snack to regain your energy, but like I said, don’t go into the kitchen. Maybe send Grandpa in to grab you a banana. After all, you did listen to his story about how he and Grandma met (for the thousandth time), so he owes you one.

10. Remember those excuses? This one can be tough. You may have thought of amazing excuses to give your mother on why you can’t take home leftovers. She might not even listen or you might have left your list behind and forgotten everything after your food coma. If this happens, just tell Mom no and walk away. She might be confused or even a little upset, but you can call her later to apologize.

---Finally…I’m home! I am really proud of myself for staying committed to this. Not eating everything in sight was definitely an accomplishment! Here are the rules for after the party is over: 

1. Start Tinder-ing. You’re going to have to get a new boyfriend lined up for next year. This way you won’t have to eat to keep from having to talk. However, make sure you’ve been dating this guy for a little while before you introduce him to the family. Nothing is worse than having your entire family asking you why you aren’t married, except having your entire family ask your boyfriend why you aren’t married. Keep in mind, this step is totally optional.

2. Heat up those cauliflower mashed potatoes you made earlier. Some habits are hard to break. You survived after plates of leftovers were shoved in your face, but this moment is a necessary part of Thanksgiving. Stick with the tradition, but make it a little healthier.

3. Binge watch all of your DVR’d episodes of Real Housewives. Why? Because you totally deserve to be completely lazy a few days out of the year.

4. Repeat steps 1-3. Do this non-stop until you have to return to work on Monday.

I wish everyone a safe, happy, and healthy Thanksgiving!

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