Thanksgiving is the one day a year where it is acceptable, nay, ENCOURAGED that you eat until you have to unbutton your pants, then have enough dessert to constitute a change into sweatpants, then maybe some more cold turkey and another slice of pumpkin pie.
Why do we do this to ourselves? I don't know anyone who's ever participated in the aforementioned Thanksgiving binge and not hated themselves the next day. Eating so much is uncomfortable, unnatural and undeniably unhealthy, but because it is the expectation, we do it year after year and never learn our lesson.
Sure, one could argue that it's "just one day," but it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that this "one day" of overeating leads to an entire holiday season of indulgence with the permissive mindset of New Year's resolutions.
"I'll start January 1st" leads to an average holiday season weight gain of 7-10 lbs, which is rarely ever lost by March, when most New Year's resolutions are abandoned.
Your overindulgent Thanksgiving is the start of a snowballing weight gain that you most likely will not reverse.
So what can you do?
1. Wake up and work out.
Nothing sets the tone for a good, mindful day like an early morning sweat session. Not only will you feel less tempted to ruin all of your hard work, but you'll give yourself a little calorie cushion just in case that pumpkin pie is the highlight of your year.
Out of town for the holiday? No problem. Find a local gym and ask for a day pass. Chances are, the employees will be in holiday-mode and won't ask you for more than a waiver.
Gym not a possibility? You can still get your sweat on! Go for a run (Thanksgiving is usually perfect running weather), do some HIIT circuits, play a round of flag football with the kids - just get moving!
2. Make a Friday morning plan.
Every gym and fitness studio in America has Turkey Burn classes going on the morning after Thanksgiving. Find one you like and sign up in advance so that you're already committed. Knowing you've got a workout scheduled for the morning keeps the "second dinner" ideas away - you definitely don't want to be the girl who pukes mid-class! (I've seen it happen... not pretty.)
Whether you want to do pilates, barre, cycling, HIIT, bootcamp, yoga or something totally adventurous, make the plan before the dessert table changes your mind for you.
3. Avoid the alcohol.
I know that family gatherings can be really stressful, but that wine you're guzzling is doing nothing but packing on calories and totally dehydrating you.
Opt for a seltzer with cranberry and lime so that you feel festive while saving the calories for the real food. You'll thank yourself at that 7AM Turkey Burn class!
4. Eat strategically.
Thanksgiving might be the one time of year that you get to have Aunt Mary's unbelievable sweet potato casserole, and I'd never take that away from you... but if that's your Thanksgiving drug of choice, you'll have to go easy on the mashed potatoes and corn bread.
Pick and choose the foods you really can't live without and decide what simply isn't worth the calories. There is only so much room on your plate, so take what you want and leave the rest.
My rule of thumb is always ONE plate per meal, so if it isn't worth the real estate, I skip it.
5. Make dessert healthy.
The pies, cookies and cakes can be so tempting, so find something reasonably healthy and stick to that.
It can be impossible to watch everyone eating sweets while you sit with an empty plate in front of you, so bring something healthy that you can share and nosh on so you don't feel left out.
Fruit trays are always a safe bet, but there are tons of delicious dessert recipes online that cater to the health-conscious. You might just create the next Thanksgiving dessert tradition!