Despite every intention of balance and moderation some folks may have completely overindulged on Thanksgiving, don’t panic. I’ll be sharing 10 tried and true exercise and nutrition steps to help you lighten up, and get those snug jeans feeling more comfortable again and get you back on course physically and mentally!
1. Get back to your normal eating schedule – Don’t skip meals! I know you may be tempted to just not eat, but skipping meals only forces your body to shift into conservation mode and burn fewer calories. Skipping can also make you more likely to hang onto any fat you’ve gained, rather than letting it go. Steady meals, on the other hand, maximize metabolism, and help regulate blood sugar and insulin levels, as well as hunger hormones. Try to eat breakfast within an hour of waking up, and eat your remaining meals three to five hours apart. Also, consider selecting a day’s worth of clean go-to meals to repeat for a few days. Your body loves consistency, so after it’s been thrown out of whack, repetition and regularity can go a long way in restoring balance.
2. Change Your Mindset – Lay the groundwork for success by congratulating yourself for putting a post-Thanksgiving workout plan in place today.
Healthy action: Don’t wait for the New Year to make changes to your diet and fitness habits. Starting now can lead to benefits you’ll enjoy for the rest of the holiday season, and it will make resolutions easier to keep.
3. Clear the Holiday Fridge & Cupboards – The feast is over, but the fridge is still full. If you hosted a dinner party, your refrigerator may be brimming with high-fat, high-calorie leftovers —particularly desserts. You need to start with a clean slate.
Healthy action: Instead of letting leftovers linger, freeze them or give them away immediately after the holiday.
Stock up on Smart Choices – Once your shelves have been cleared of temptations, it’s time to bring in the healthy alternatives. Replace the holiday fare with healthier, low-calorie options, and be sure to include a good mix of the following food items:
Fruits, vegetables (especially leafy greens), low-fat meats and dairy products, whole-grain bread and grains, fish, nuts, legumes andseeds.
Healthy action: Next time you hear your stomach grumbling, turn to these healthy foods instead of pie with whipped cream. The sooner you make the switch, the easier it will be to lose any weight you’ve gained.
4. Limit Eating Out – To get back into healthy habits, you need to cut back on calories and special-occasion meals, which may mean staying home instead of going out. Restaurant food tends to be high in salt, fat, and calories — the very things you’re trying to avoid. It’s much easier to control your eating habits at home.
Healthy action: If you dine out frequently, try to reduce your restaurant trips in the coming months. To keep calories down, limit your intake of high-calorie appetizers and desserts. If you absolutely must dine out, avoid fried foods by choosing the grilled option, and cut calories in half by asking for sauces and dressings on the side. Get a doggie bag before you start, and bag up half the portion for a later time.
5. Reconfigure your proportions – Rather than drastically cutting calories, make non-starchy vegetables the focus of your meals, paired with lean protein, a bit of good-for-you fat, and small portions of healthy, slow-burning starch. One of the reasons you feel heavy after overeating is because your body stockpiles carbs in a form called glycogen, along with water. Cutting back, but not cutting carbs out completely, can help you level your energy and, while still allowing your body to let go of surplus starch. Aim for just a third to a half cup of whole food (ie. “starchy”) carbs in each meal, such as whole grains, and starchy vegetables.
6. Commit to an Exercise Class/Program – If you’ve packed on extra calories, you’ll need to apply an extra “burn.” What better way to torch those extra calories than by getting into the routine of a new activity? Group exercise classes, offered at most gyms, give you an extra boost of motivation. We have just introduced a new program at NRG 4 Life called Small Steps, Big Change which is a 6 week exercise AND nutrition program geared to those looking to trim down 50+ lbs. It includes 12 group exercise sessions, 6 x 1 week meal plans with shopping lists along with 6 mini-lifestyle/nutrition workshops to support your goals. It’s an inclusive program that will give participants all the tools to succeed with their weight loss goals. It’s not just exercise. It’s not a diet. It’s a combined approach in a program for a maximum of 15 participants that meet 2x/week. It’s a joint effort of Naturopathic Dr. Leigha Saunders and myself that will run from November 4 – December 14. It’s open for women and men and is held at NRG 4 Life and True Roots Healthcare Naturopathic clinic here in Uxbridge. It’s only $179 until Nov 1st. After this date, the price is $199 + HST. It’s going to be awesome! There’s an info session Oct 28th at 11am at True Roots (304 Toronto St., S, Unit 202). Healthy action: Sign up for something you’ve never tried before, like Zumba or barre classes, or stick to an old standby like spinning. If you prefer outdoor workouts, take up cycling or hiking. Many group outings are available for these sports as well.
7. Find a Workout/Support Buddy – If you went a bit overboard over the holiday, chances are that some of your friends and colleagues did, too. Instead of commiserating about it, why not plan your workouts together?
Knowing that you have a pal for support can help ensure that you don’t skip your workouts. Plus, your post-holiday workout buddy will likely be motivated by the same goal that you are: to get back on track to better health and fitness as soon as possible.
Healthy action: Extend an invitation to your friends to exercise with you. This makes the activity more social and allows you and your buddy to hold each other accountable for the goals you’ve set. This will make your chances of success even higher.
8. Get more potassium – On top of helping nerves and muscles function properly and regulating blood pressure and your body’s pH level, potassium acts as a natural diuretic. Eating more helps you de-bloat and feel lighter by sweeping excess sodium out of your body and relieving water retention. Good sources include lima beans, spinach, Brussels sprouts, sweet potato, tomatoes, avocado, lima beans, salmon, and mushrooms.
Here’s an idea of a day’s worth of meals to help get you back on track:
An omelet made with one whole organic egg and three whites, plus a third of a cup of each: baby spinach leaves, chopped mushrooms, sliced grape tomatoes, and cooked quinoa. Season it with a handful of fresh cilantro, and once it’s ready, top it with a quarter of a ripe avocado, sliced. (For a vegan version, you can swap eggs for mashed chickpeas.)
A tablespoon each of balsamic vinegar and extra virgin olive oil, whisked together with a little fresh squeezed lemon and dried Italian herb seasoning, tossed with a cup and a half of torn romaine, a quarter cup each minced red onion, and chopped red bell pepper, topped with a half cup of black beans and a third cup of cooked, chilled wild rice.
One cup each baby Brussels sprouts and white button mushrooms, oven roasted, paired with three ounces of broiled salmon, and a half cup of mashed baked sweet potato, seasoned with a tablespoon of extra virgin coconut oil and a dash of pumpkin pie spice (for a vegan version trade salmon for lentils).
9. Drink water only, and sip more of it – Make water your only beverage and up your intake. H2O supports optimal metabolism, and helps naturally curb appetite. Drinking more water also flushes out excess sodium to help you quickly de-bloat, and it gets your digestive system moving to relieve constipation. Aim for 2-2.5 liters of water a day (about 8-10 cups).
10. Tune in – Eat slowly, pay attention to your body’s signals, and stop when full, even if you haven’t finished your meal. Eating at a slower pace can automatically help you curb your portions while feeling more satisfied. When you chew carefully, set your fork down between bites, and tune into your body’s signals, you’ll be able to detect your tipping point and that feeling of just right fullness.
It’s not the end of the world. You may have slipped up by overindulging this Thanksgiving, but that’s not the worst you could do. The worst thing you can do to sabotage your fitness is throw in the towel. Pull yourself up and get back into your workout routine today. Lean on others for support and mutual motivation and you’ll really have something to celebrate in the New Year.
Get your plan in place now and start fresh today. If now, then when?