How Fat Loss Foodies Handle Holidays: 5 Tips for a Lean Thanksgiving
We're a week out from what is arguably the biggest food holiday of the year. ARE YOU READY!?
If you're already planning a wardrobe of stretchy leggings and long sweaters for the week after Thanksgiving, hold it right there! We have a better idea:
Think, Cook, and Eat like a Fat Loss Foodie on Thanksgiving Day!
Here's the best part: being a Fat Loss Foodie doesn't require using every ounce of willpower you have to say no to pie (where I come from, skipping PIE IS A CRIME). Living an FLF lifestyle does NOT mean denying yourself and eating lettuce and celery while everyone else enjoys the holiday meal.
Besides, how could you possibly have enough willpower to stick to a fat loss eating plan in the face of mashed potatoes, pumpkin pie, and wine? Add in a couple relatives pushing extra slices of pie and dinner rolls while interrogating you about your food choices ("What's this weird diet you're on? You're not eating?"), and it's no wonder most people feel defeated before the turkey has even been carved.
This year, what if you could get through the holiday dinner unscathed and actually make Thanksgiving work for you?
Our FLF girls use strategies like these every year to get through the holiday season without missing a beat. No more “falling off the wagon,” no holiday weight gain, and no need to make a big dramatic diet overhaul come January 1. CAN I GET A “YES, PLEASE”?
These 5 FLF strategies will help you rock your Thanksgiving!
Top 5 tips for taking on Turkey Day like a Fat Loss Foodie!
1. Get sweaty before the big meal.
Turkey Trot 5k races are good exercise and tons of fun, but if you're looking to maximize fat burning, running 3.1 miles isn't your best option.
Instead, opt for a strength training workout that combines weights (i.e. dumbbells, kettlebells, or barbells) and body weight exercises.
Hit the weight room floor and prioritize multi-joint movements like squats, deadlifts, rows and presses.
If you love group exercise classes, try a BODYPUMP class and challenge yourself in the Squat, Chest, and Back tracks; these are the biggest, strongest muscle groups and give you the biggest metabolic bang for your buck!
If that’s not your style, try a fast-paced strength training circuit or a high intensity interval training (HIIT) workout.
Intense strength training workouts will set you up for an elevated calorie burn for hours after your workout has ended. Training hard before eating a big meal also improves insulin sensitivity and primes your body to use those calories for muscle repair and growth instead of fat storage.
For a BONUS fat-burning workout, take a long, slow leisurely walk outside with your family after the big meal.
2. Remember that fat loss isn't JUST about calories in vs. calories out.
Yes, you need a caloric deficit to lose fat, but you also need a balanced metabolism. If you've been on a low-calorie, low-carb diet for as long as you can remember, you may have noticed your fat loss results have plateaued. When you consume fewer calories for an extended period of time, the metabolism compensates by slowing down.
Borrow a page from the bodybuilders' playbook and schedule a strategic re-feed, a large influx of calories (especially from carbs) designed to “reset” key hormones and restore balance to your hunger, energy, and cravings.
Doing a large re-feed - or "Treat Meal" as we call it here at FLF - won't turn you into a bodybuilder overnight, but it will help prevent the metabolic slowdown that comes from eating a low-calorie or low-carb diet for too long. Yes, you read that right: if you’ve been on the diet train for weeks, months, etc., a bump of calories - especially from carbs - may be exactly what your body needs!
If you decide to go this route, make Thanksgiving dinner your big treat meal and enjoy it, then get right back on track at the next meal. If you do this right, you’ll wake up Friday morning feeling energized, motivated, and ready to get back to kicking butt and taking names! Amazing what a little good food can do for the body and soul, right?
If that approach doesn't appeal to you, #3 might:
3. Follow Your FLF Template at your Thanksgiving meal.
This approach may not work for everyone, but there are some people out there who could take or leave the turkey, dressing, and cranberries. I am not one of those people, but if that's you, then treat Thanksgiving like any other meal.
Eat ~4 ounces of turkey, ham, or whatever lean meats are available. Cover half your plate in non-starchy vegetables like asparagus, green beans, kale, Brussels sprouts, and cauliflower. Don't worry about a little extra butter or olive oil on those veggies as you won't be going crazy on starches, and a little extra fat increases satisfaction and keep you from feeling deprived.
Save one quarter of your plate for a few spoonfuls of the stuff you CAN'T miss, the foods you don't get to eat any other time but Thanksgiving dinner. Have a few bites of sweet potato casserole or cornbread dressing or your aunt's made-from-scratch dinner rolls.
Fill up on the protein and veggies and enjoy a few bites of those indulgent side dishes, or save your starch for dessert and have a slice of pumpkin pie.
If you're a cook or baker, pick your favorite, can't-live-without-it side dish and make a cleaned-up version that has less fat, less sugar/carbs, and more protein and/or fiber. The internet is a treasure trove of these kinds of recipes now. Just be sure to test it out before the holiday meal!
4. Manage Your Leftovers
It's not the one big meal that creates all the problems with holiday weight gain. It's the days that follow, when we replace our usual lunchtime salads with starchy leftovers from Thanksgiving day, or when we eat pie for breakfast because - hey, it's there and someone has to eat it!
Many of us make the mistake of preparing far more food than we need for Thanksgiving day, setting ourselves up for a week of poor food choices. We cook more than we need and wind up with a surplus of dinner rolls, mashed potatoes, and stuffing - foods we wouldn't normally eat, foods that are high in starch and fat - the perfect combination for fat storage.
This year, notice how many servings are in your recipes and ask yourself, "Do I really need this much?"
Cut some of your starchy side dish recipes in half, and make double recipes of non-starchy vegetables like broccoli and Brussels sprouts. This ensures you have a kitchen stocked with the right kind of leftovers, and you won't be stuck eating mashed potato and gravy sandwiches on the third or fourth day after Thanksgiving.
5. Visualize Your Success.
If you've made great progress on your fitness and nutrition goals this year, be proud of how far you've come and do not be afraid that one holiday will undo all your hard work.
I've worked with clients who approached holidays with fear and dread because they were so afraid of going back to where they started. It doesn't have to be like that! You always have the power to change the story, to write a new story.
Make this year different.
In the days leading up to the holiday, prepare yourself mentally by spending 10-15 minutes thinking, in as much detail as possible, about how you'll handle the day. See yourself making the choices that serve you best, that nourish you and make you feel good. Plan what you will eat and drink before you even get to the big meal, and then see yourself following through on your plans and feeling successful. Keep replaying this "success scenario" until Thanksgiving Day and you'll see the plan come to life!
Remember, Thanksgiving is about more than food, but that doesn't mean you can't enjoy the day and taste all the traditional dishes you've waited all year for! Use one - or all! - of these 5 strategies as you head into the holiday and set yourself up for success! Drop us a line here or on Instagram @FatLoss_Foodies and let us know which of these strategies you're using to have a LEAN THANKSGIVING!
xo, Leslie Ann
P.S. Be sure you’re on our email list as I always send out a home workout for Thanksgiving Day! Sign up here!