Thanksgiving is commonly known as a holiday of over-indulgence. Families spend hours preparing rich and delicious foods, then share an afternoon and evening enjoying all of these yummy creations. If you are wanting to stick to fitness goals this year, then look for small, incremental habits that you can include in your holiday traditions.
Remember that Thanksgiving and the holiday season don’t have to be an all-or-nothing experience. You can have fun and enjoy some of your favorite foods, while still sticking to a nutrition plan and maintaining an exercise routine.
Fitness Goals: Don’t Wait for January
One of the biggest mistakes you can make during this time of year is writing off your fitness goals and assuming that you will start fresh in January. Yes, the New Year is always a great time to re-evaluate your lifestyle and health habits. But don’t underestimate the progress that you can make in November and December when you choose to stick to fitness goals.
In fact, right now is the perfect time to gain the momentum that you need so you can experience the best results possible in the New Year. Healthy eating and exercise results take a few weeks or months before you start to notice a difference. So, begin right now and you will see the benefits of trimming down by January.
Best Practices to Stick to Fitness Goals During the Holiday Season
Here are a few options you might consider if you are wondering how to stick to fitness goals during Thanksgiving and beyond:
- Prioritize Exercise: If you know that holiday parties are happening in the evening, then make sure to prioritize your workout earlier in the day. Wake up 30 minutes early so you can fit in a quick workout, such as a run on the treadmill or lifting a few weights. Check the hours at your local gym, and you might find a facility that is open on Thanksgiving morning.
- Make it a Group Activity: You don’t have to exercise alone! Invite houseguests, friends, or family to join your workout. Even something as simple as a family walk can get everyone outside to enjoy the fresh air before or after Thanksgiving dinner. Or, start the tradition of hosting a family game of flag football in the backyard.
- Find a Community Activity: Look for a local Turkey Trot or a yoga class on Thanksgiving Day. These community activities combine fitness and connection, giving you a fun activity that supports your fitness at the same time.
- Use Healthier Ingredients: All the butter, sugar, and fat can add up in the many side dishes that will be served for Thanksgiving. Look for small, incremental changes that you can make to “healthify” the meal plan. For example, you might use unsweetened applesauce instead of sugar to add flavor to a dessert. Or switch out white rolls for whole-wheat bread or multigrain alternatives.
- Serve Fresh Side Dishes: Always have fresh and healthy options for people who don’t want a heavy meal. It’s easier to stick to fitness goals when fruits and vegetables are on the menu. Something as simple as a green salad or bowl of seasonal fruit can be an ideal way to bring more fiber and antioxidants into the meal.
- Be Proactive About Portion Control: Allow yourself the freedom and flexibility to enjoy some of your favorite foods this holiday. But keep the portion sizes smaller. For example, you might take a half slice of pie and skip the ice cream instead of eating a bowl full of dessert.
Dietary Tips to Manage Caloric Intake
Not only does Thanksgiving dinner include foods that are high in calories, but there are many other treats, appetizers, and drinks that can quickly increase your caloric intake. Watch what you eat before, during, and after the meal.
For example, stay away from chips and dip before the meal. Be careful about grabbing from the candy bowl too much. Only eat dessert after the main dinner.
Take your time while you are eating and pay attention to your hunger signals. If you notice that you are starting to feel full, then don’t feel obligated to finish everything else on your plate.
Also, consider how you are stacking foods on your plate. Choose a smaller plate and avoid piling the food too high.
Getting Back on Track After Thanksgiving
Even if you set aside your fitness goals on Thanksgiving Day, be proactive about getting back on track the next day. Letting unhealthy habits linger through the weekend is a recipe for disaster. The longer you over-indulge in unhealthy foods, the harder it is to step back into your regular diet again.
So, give yourself a little bit of grace to enjoy the holiday. Then commit to sticking to fitness goals on the other days of the month. Just because you have 1 “cheat day,” it doesn’t mean that you need to continue these eating habits.
If you are hosting Thanksgiving dinner, then consider sending leftovers home with family and friends so you aren’t tempted the next day. Also, make sure to have healthy meals ready to go in the fridge, giving you an easy solution when hunger hits.
Enjoy the Holiday Season and Stick to Fitness Goals
Just because you want to stick to fitness goals doesn’t mean that you have to give up your favorite foods or traditions during the holiday season. Be proactive about managing your portions, maintaining your exercise routine, and swapping out ingredients. You will find it easy to celebrate this holiday season without worrying about packing on a few extra pounds.
One great solution is to ensure that you have a quality fitness community to keep you motivated through the end of the year. If you want to start your fitness journey and need a gym to call home, then we invite you to join Fitness Nation. Our facility has all the weights and equipment you love so you can have enjoyable and effective workouts this season.