Follow this 11-step program to keep the Thanksgiving banquet off your butt

Posted: November 21, 2013

THANKSGIVING is next week, and already some people are feeling anxious about gaining unwanted weight.

If you're not even a little bit nervous, maybe you should be. On average, the typical American Thanksgiving meal is a 3,000-calorie slog, and some experts say we'll consume a whopping 4,500 calories before the day is done.

Your body will need 8 to 12 hours just to digest it all. To burn off all the calories would require 8 to 10 hours of moderate cardiovascular exercise.

Yikes!

But fear not. Follow my 11-point Turkey Day survival plan and you can make it through Thanksgiving without putting on an ounce.

1 Start strong. If your gym is open on Thanksgiving morning, get there first thing, and get in a good workout! Maintaining your regular exercise routine will help you feel more energized, less stressed and better able to resist temptations.

2 Dress up. If you wear a fitted outfit - make sure it has a zipper or buttons - your waistband will instantly remind you when you've had enough. You're likely to to eat 40 or 50 percent more if your outfit has an elastic waist and includes a huge sweater.

3 Fuel up early. Many people skip breakfast and lunch, saving all their calories for Thanksgiving dinner. Then they end up bingeing later. Instead, eat a nice, high-fiber meal early. If you're traveling to someone else's house, pack some power snacks, like raw nuts or dried fruit, in the car.

4 Think small. At Thanksgiving dinner itself, let yourself indulge in the traditional dishes and luscious desserts. It wouldn't be a holiday if you didn't. Just serve yourself half of what you would normally put on the plate - or even a quarter. Consider eating your meal on a salad plate instead of a dinner plate to fool yourself with the illusion of more food. It really works.

5 Pad with produce. Fruits and vegetables are full of fiber that will swell in your stomach and help curb your appetite. Show initiative and volunteer to bring a tray of vegetable crudites or a fruit salad to the party.

6 Save up for the good stuff. If you're going to indulge in a little decadence, save it for the holiday specialties, like pumpkin pie. Don't bother to eat everyday items like buttered dinner rolls. You could save 300 calories right there.

7 Take it slow. It takes 20 minutes for your brain to register the sensation that your belly is full. So, instead of inhaling your dinner, take your time and really enjoy each delectable bite. Keep your mouth engaged in good conversation.

8 Beware of beverages. Alcohol is loaded with empty calories. During dinner, drink equally from your water glass and your wine glass. Skip the sugary and creamy cocktails entirely. Serve soft drinks, like sparkling cider, in tall, narrow glasses instead of big, fat tumblers. With these clever tricks, you can easily save hundreds of extra calories from holiday drinks.

9 But do stay hydrated. With all the rushing about during the holidays, many people forget to drink plenty of water. That's a problem, because every cell in your body needs water - and because people who are thirsty tend to eat more. Bring a case of fancy bottled water as a hostess gift, instead of a case of beer.

10 Get physical. After your meal, go for a brisk 30-minute walk. The cool air and physical activity will refresh you.

11 Focus on family. Instead of snuggling up to that bowl of macaroni and cheese, hold the baby instead. Holidays are more about family than they are about cookies and cakes.


Kimberly Garrison is a wellness coach and owner of One on One Ultimate Fitness in Philadelphia. Her column appears Wednesdays.

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