In keeping with our Small Steps strategy for this month and next, here’s a game plan for this week. Remember, this isn’t about deprivation or food elimination, it’s about making smart choices so you can enjoy Thanksgiving as you please without worrying about unwanted post-holiday pounds.
- Make exercise a priority: Aim to perform at least 30 minutes of exercise as many days as possible this week, including into the weekend. You choose what type – cardio, strength, flexibility – and you can split it up into ten minute segments throughout the day.
- If you’re hosting this year…you probably won’t have extra time to devote to structured workouts in the days leading up to Thursday. Keep in mind, time spent cleaning, setting up tables and chairs, and standing in the kitchen doing food prep is productive movement. Add to that short bouts of strengthening and stretching, done at home with no equipment needed. If you can sneak away for 20-30 minutes to get in a brisk walk outside once or twice, this will go a long way in burning extra calories and boosting energy.
- Conserve calories: There’s no need to go on a fast or strict diet. But, the idea is to end the week without the sum total of calories ingested greatly exceeding the sum total of calories burned. If you can shave off 100-200 calories from your normal consumption each day, you can “buy” a little extra nosh on turkey day without guilt.
- Take a walk: If you’re not already signed up for a Turkey Trot race, plan to take a walk or jog in the morning before all the festivities begin. The fresh air will boost spirits and energy and you can count the calories you burn toward a down payment on dessert. If you’re hosting dinner and don’t have time early in the day to walk, plan one for later in the day. If the weather is uncooperative and you don’t have access to indoor gym equipment, do an equipment-free strength workout or yoga instead.
- Limit calories outside of dinner: Do eat a small breakfast. Depending on the time of your dinner, you’ll want to have a small snack three to four hours either before or after the main meal. Fruits, vegetables, dairy and nuts are good because they’re filling without containing a lot of calories. Consume the minimum amount to stave off hunger.
- Dinner plan: Okay, so you’ve banked some extra calories through conservation and exercise earlier in the week, exercised this morning and kept calorie consumption to a minimum thus far today, what can you eat? And how much?
- My advice is to eat what you like, avoid what you’re ambivalent about and keep all portions small.
- Love bread stuffing? You’ll enjoy it whether you eat a half cup (150 cal) or a quarter cup (75 cal).
- If you love everything about the meal, perhaps skip things that are readily available any other time of the year – such as bread rolls or mashed potatoes.
- It’s not about looking at everything as a number of calories. Nor is it about telling yourself you’ll eat plain carrot sticks instead of dessert. But it is about knowing what is and is not worth the calorie investment to you. It’s about getting the best bang for your buck.
Roasted Turkey Breast: 4oz, 150 cal
Turkey Gravy: 1/4 cup, 25 cal
Mashed Potatoes: 1/2 cup, 150 cal
Bread Stuffing: 1/2 cup, 150 cal
Meat Stuffing: 1/2 cup, 175 cal
Green Bean Casserole: 1 cup, 200 cal
Sweet Potato Casserole: 1/2 cup, 200 cal
Roasted Brussels Sprouts: 1/2 cup, 50 cal
Homemade Cranberry Relish & Canned Cranberry Jelly: 1/2 cup of either, 100 cal
Dinner Roll: 100 cal; 1/2 Tblsp Butter: 50 cal
Pumpkin Pie & Two-Crust Apple Pie: 1 avg slice of either, 250 cal
Pecan Pie: 1 avg slice, 500 cal
Whipped Cream: 1 dollop, 100 cal
White Wine: 5 oz, 120 cal
Red Wine: 5 oz, 130 cal
Champagne: 4 oz,, approx. 1 flute, 100 cal
Calories 101: Adult females, generally speaking, should average 2000 (2500 for males) calories per day, net of calories burned via exercise, to maintain their current weight. Walking at a brisk pace burns approximately 220 calories per hour.
Look at this list now, without the temptation of the abundance in front of you and a hunger in your belly. Take note of serving sizes and calorie counts and compare items to one another. Consider what you’ll select to put on your plate, how much of each and what you’ll skip. Plan a buffer for unexpected dishes or appetizers that may be available prior to the meal being served.
I believe too many people go into the day with a vague sense that this is the year they won’t overindulge. And, when they do, they feel badly about themselves, they give in and give up and head into the rest of the holiday season feeling like failures and ceding control. It’s a vicious, nasty cycle.
You can break that cycle by taking control now with a plan and strategy in place. You can, and should, truly enjoy a meal made with love and thankfulness without feeling badly about yourself and your choices afterwards.