The holidays are officially upon us. Many people are already strategizing and stressing about how much to eat, how they are going to avoid every carb, and planning out how many miles they need to run in order to burn off the extra calories. It’s easy to get caught in the trap. No one wants to emerge in January 10 pounds heavier and feeling like a sugar-filled bottomless pit.
Health bloggers don’t necessarily make this time any easier for us either. Holidays are like catnip to health and fitness bloggers. Quick, bust out the posts on “10 ways to a thinner Thanksgiving” or how to “Burn off Thanksgiving dinner with this cardio circuit!” Cute little infographics show us how many burpees we have to perform to burn off one slice of pie and bodybuilding articles tell us to just focus on protein and try to limit carbs and fats. Clean eating minions preach about swapping “junk foods” (like holiday cookies, apple pies, and mashed potatoes, basically all the stuff worth living for) for flourless, sugarless, glutenless (soul-less) cookies and mashed cauliflower. (They swear it tastes just like mashed potatoes, maybe better.) I could easily jump on the bandwagon and add my own list of tips and tricks. You know, stick to one glass of wine, practice portion control, fit in a quick workout before dinner…
Instead, I’m going to simply say this.
This year, practice gratitude over guilt.
Thanksgiving dinner is one meal out of the 1,059 meals we eat each year, assuming 3 meals a day are eaten. That means Thanksgiving dinner is 0.09% of the meals you will eat over the next 365 days. What matters more? What you do this one day or the other 364 days a year? When you think about it like that, and put it into perspective, this one meal will not make a difference in your health and fitness goals.
While some people are stressing about burning off every extra calorie, there are people on the extreme opposite side who have already thrown in the towel and declared this the season of endless cookies and pie. January 1st is reserved for the gym, right? But, there is a huge difference between one or two fat and carb heavy meals and an endless cycle of mindless eating for weeks on end.
I am proposing you find that happy middle ground.
There is no reason to hit the treadmill for an hour in anticipation of a big dinner. Burpees for biscuits? Push ups for pie? Food is not the enemy and you are not required to burn off every extra calorie.
You are required to enjoy yourself, to listen to your body, and to practice balance and moderation.
Thanksgiving is a time for gratitude and family, not for guilt. Be grateful for the food, your family, a day off work, and the people you are sharing this meal with. Spend your day engaged with family, making memories, and thankful for every moment. There is no need to over-indulge but there is no reason to restrict either.
This year, I am giving you permission to let go of the stress. The gym will be there the morning after your big Thanksgiving dinner. The period between Thanksgiving and Christmas is not a free-for-all. It’s not a period of mindless eating for weeks on end. Practice balance and moderation with food and fitness most of the time, including the weeks between holiday celebrations. Christmas dinner is another opportunity to drop the stress and just enjoy the day.
The people who survive the holidays without derailing their health and fitness goals are those who know one meal doesn’t define them. They enjoy that meal and move on.