Top Two Tips For A Guilt Free Thanksgiving

So here we are again, huh? 

The Holidays. 

The dreaded food-everywhere-sugar-frenzy-packed-schedule holiday season. Also known as the guiltiest time of the year. 

From pie to cookies, to stuffing and green bean casserole, the upcoming six weeks can be a nightmare of temptation for dieters, riddled with guilt and “shouldn’t”. 

If you ask me though, the holidays are already packed with too much other stuff to be filled with guilt too. With all of the parties, get togethers, family time, gift shopping, gift wrapping, decorating, etc, how does anyone even have time to feel guilty? So here’s a thought: just don’t. 

My top two tips for a guilt free Thanksgiving? 

1. Eat what you really want. 

2. Don’t feel guilty. 

I know, it sounds like I’m being a jerk, because we all know it’s not that easy. And you’re right– it’s not always easy! But making a conscious decision to enjoy the food choices you make, eating them mindfully, and letting yourself actually enjoy them will go a long way towards your holiday sanity. 

What do I mean when I say to eat that pie or stuffing mindfully? It really comes down to 3 things: 

1. Note the flavors, textures, etc. The reasons that you love this food are exactly what you should focus on. 

2. Acknowledge the emotional or mental component. Does this apple pie have a nostalgic pull for you because you used to make it with your grandmother when you were young? That’s ok. Food is often connected to memories both good and bad, and I think it’s important to acknowledge and embrace this rather than shut it out. Whether we like it or not, food has an emotional sider that can add to your enjoyment of it, but it can also take that enjoyment away. Make sure that this food does the former, honor that feeling, so that suppressing it doesn’t lead to over indulging or binging later on. 

3. Make sure every bite still tastes good. You know when you eat too much of a good thing and it just doesn’t taste as good after a while? Even your favorite foods can fall victim to this tastebud paralasys as I like to call it. Stop before you get to that point– what’s the point in eating something if you’re not going to enjoy it? At first, this will take practice. But over time, you’ll begin to recognize this point without even thinking about it. 

And what about this not feeling guilty? How are we supposed to do that after all of the goodies that we come across at each and every holiday event? 

This one also takes practice. It takes patience and self love, and careful thoughtfulness when it comes to the three steps listed above. It’s ok if you eat pie and cookies…and stuffing and candied yams…and a second helping of mashed potatoes. Even if you do go a little bit overboard (let’s face it, most of us will), it’s one day. One meal. One tiny percentage of your time when your focus should be on family and love and laughter, not on the calories on your plate.

The food you eat on one day will not completely derail you from your goals. If you are trying to reach certain body goals though, be aware that going all out for the entire holiday season will probably set you back a bit. If you’re ok with that, own it, and drop the guilt. If you’re not, pick the times/parties/foods that you will indulge with, do so mindfully, and free up some brain space for creating new amazing memories with your family and friends– not calorie guilt. The bottom line is that this time of year doesn’t have to be stressful when it comes to food. This is just another day, another week, another month on your journey. You’ve got this! 

Repeat after me: There is no room for guilt at the Thanksgiving table. 

Especially this year– the political turmoil will take up enough space as it is. And after that awkward family argument, you’re gonna need that pie. Just enjoy it, ok? 

Healthy Thanksgiving? Thanks, but No Thanks

I’m not going to stick around long today, because I’m too busy baking pie and hanging around my house in my sweatpants.
But what I am going to say, briefly, is a message to all of my US friends who will be celebrating Thanksgiving tomorrow.

No, Thanksgiving is not all about the food (wait, what?), but food does tend to be the central focus of most holiday gatherings. And so, my message today is not about what I’m thankful for, which is so, so, so much these days. My message today is about the (absurdly delicious) food.

SO many people stress about what to eat and what not to eat at the holidays — how many calories is on that plate? How many miles will I have to run to burn that off? How will I ever live with myself after today?!?

Well, my PSA to you today is to SHUT THE F*** UP. Seriously. Not trying to be rude here, but stop it with that nonsense. Take your food stress and throw it right out the window. Eat the pie. Eat the buttery mashed potatoes. Eat the weird green Jello thing your aunt always brings. EAT THE DAMN STUFFING. Eat whatever you want to eat, and enjoy every bit of it. And then probably go back and enjoy another slice of pie. (Don’t forget the whipped cream).

Go back to your healthy lifestyle and moderation tomorrow, because Thanksgiving is not Thanksgiving at all without a few slices of pie, amiright?

Eat it all. Have no regrets. Have no guilt. Loosen up your pants and live a little!

There, I’ve said it.

Happy Thanksgiving, y’all!

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A Mini Thanksgiving

This past weekend Will and I had some of my family down for a nice meal before Thanksgiving. For the past few years, Will and I have spend Thanksgiving day with his family, and then Christmas Day with my family. It is a trade off that has worked well for us, but I also want to make sure to get in some quality time with my mom and grandmother at Thanksgiving time! We didn’t do a full turkey dinner, in fact we didn’t do a turkey at all, but we just wanted to invite them down for a nice meal and a nice day together before the craziness of the holiday season goes into full swing. We wanted to make it a delicious meal, but still stay true to the types of ingredients and foods we enjoy in our daily lives.

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This was the biggest meal we’ve ever prepped together (not sure what that says about us), so planning and timing was a bit up in the air — we did end up serving about 45 minutes later than planned, but I guess that will help us learn for next time!

Our menu for the day was a perfect medley of fall flavors:

Roasted Chicken – This was delicious, a locally raised (giant) chicken that we bought a couple of weeks ago. We bought two at the time and did a test run last week — I must say, that this one turned out even better!

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Butternut Squash Soup – This is something that Will makes throughout the fall, but I think this was his best batch yet. He followed this recipe, and we actually “cooked” it in our Vitamix. That thing really is a miracle! The soup was delicious and extremely flavorful, it was a huge hit with my family.

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Green Beans with Caramalized Onions and Almonds — For this I followed Tyler Florence’s recipe, and it was my first time cooking green beans this way. If you’re looking for an alternative to the traditional (and very heavy) green bean casserole, this is absolutely wonderful! Also a huge hit with my family, we’ll definitely be making these again. Next time, I’d probably use yellow onions instead of red, and would make sure to slice them thinner.

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Mashed Potatoes — An old classic, nothing special about this dish. Boy were they good though! We used both white and red potatoes, and kept the skin on as usual. That’s the way that I grew up having them, and I really love the texture of the skins mashed into the flesh of the potatoes.

Cranberry Sauce — Will made this, and the great thing about this recipe is that it’s made with honey, not a ton of refined sugar. Yes, honey is still sugar, but we also use organic, pure honey so it makes me feel a little better about eating it. This was not your traditional super-sweet cranberry sauce, so if you like something a little more tart, this is a great option! We ended up adding in a little bit more honey at the end, and it was perfect.

Apple Crisp – I always follow the classic Betty Crocker recipe when I make this, and it has never failed me. I like to use a mixture of Honeycrisp and Granny Smith apples in crisp, which I did here (4 honey crisp and 2 granny smith). The recipe only calls for 4 apples total, but I decided to plump it up a little bit more! This was served with vanilla ice cream, of course!

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 Readers: What’s a unique item on your Thanksgiving Menu? Do you host or do you travel elsewhere? Happy Thanksgiving! For my non-US readers, I hope you have a wonderful weekend! I’ll be away with family and won’t be posting again until next week.

 

 

OK, So You Indulged. Now What?

Who ate a lot of pie this weekend? **Raises hand**. Who ate a lot of turkey and stuffing this weekend?? **Raises hand**  Who went to the gym this weekend?? **Crickets**.

Yep, I’ll admit it, I went to three Thanksgivings this weekend. THREE. And I ate full meals at all of them — including desserts and wine. But with all of the travel mixed in with my work schedule, I didn’t have time for more than a quick at-home workout and a few hill sprints. No heavy lifting, no HIIT, no killer workouts. But you know what? I’m ok with all that, because I spent some amazing days with some amazing people who are very special to me, and I wouldn’t trade that for a workout ever. Priorities, people. 

But I know that there are some people who may have done something similar to me, and are now going crazy trying to figure out how to get back on track after going a little too wild at the turkey buffet.

And this blog is nothing if not for all of you, so here are my three tips for getting back on track after the holiday:

1. Stop thinking of it as getting “back on track”. This will only stress you out, and could make the process a lot harder than it needs to be. Just resume your normal, healthy life style, hit the gym, and move on. Focusing all of your energy on getting “back on track” will take away from what’s really important — your normal, healthy, every day life. Maybe you went a little more crazy than others and want to avoid dessert for a week or two. But whatever you choose, don’t stress about it. Healthy living is about your life as a whole, not your life for two days. 

2. Don’t Detox. Whatever you do, don’t detox. Don’t go on some silly juice cleanse that will leave you weak, disoriented, hangry and emotionally sloppy for 3-7 days.

Nobody wants a crying, raging lunatic around, especially one who can’t stop complaining about how fat she must be after eating so much. (News flash: it’s not true). And it’s not fair for you to put other people through that just because you ate a lot of pie.

Just get back to your normal life — eat whole foods, drink a lot of water, and smile at strangers. All of these will help, I promise.

3. Take a step away from the mirror. I’m pretty sure you didn’t gain five pounds in one day. I’m pretty sure your thighs are not any bigger after Thanksgiving dinner — if your pants feel a little snug, it’s likely water retention. Stop pulling at your lower belly or checking out your bum every time you pass a mirror. They are not bigger, I promise. You are the only one who can see the pie that you ate, because it’s all in your head. Take a step away from the mirror, resume your normal life style, and move on. That mirror will be there when you’re feeling a little better about yourself, but if all it’s doing is allowing you to beat yourself up, it’s not your friend right now.

Readers: What are your tips for getting back on track after a day (or three) of indulgent eating? Do you find yourself wanting more sugar and other treats after a holiday? Did you make it to the gym over the holiday weekend? 

The Anti-Healthy Thanksgiving Post

There are a lot of blog posts and articles out there right now about how to enjoy your holiday meal in a healthy way, or how to stay healthy while enjoying your holidays. This is not one of those.

I’m not saying that there’s anything wrong with that type of post or article, in fact, I think they can be quite helpful, and I even wrote one recently. If you really do want tips about staying healthy while enjoying your holidays, you can read it here.

This post is about forgetting being “healthy” for one day and just enjoying Thanksgiving. I’m not saying that I’m going to stuff myself silly and drink three bottles of wine tomorrow, but I am saying that I’m going to enjoy the day without stressing about too many carbs, too much sugar, and too little exercise. Yes, I’ll probably make a point to take a walk after eating dinner, but besides that, it’s just going to be a day to enjoy good food and good company.

Holidays are special days. As long as you don’t treat every day like a holiday, it is perfectly OK to enjoy them when they come! There’s a difference between letting yourself be free and eating/drinking the things you love on Thanksgiving and other holidays, and letting yourself go buck wild and eating everything in sight for two months because “it’s the holidays”.

Define your holidays, maintain your healthy lifestyle in between them, and allow yourself to enjoy the special days and all of the delicious goodies that come with them. In fact, I’ll be eating two Thanksgiving dinners tomorrow, with two different families. Am I stressed out because I’m going to be facing a lot of food (a lot of it unhealthy)? Nope. Am I going to count macros/calories so that I don’t eat too much? Nope. Am I going to eat all the pie? Yep.

400And I’m OK with that. 

Normally, I strongly suggest that people pay close attention to what and how much they eat and to keeping macronutrient ratios within a general range.  I preach moderation, self control, and being mindful. However, once or twice a year, I really think that it’s ok to let you guard down. It’s ok to eat whatever you want without feeling guilty about it. It’s ok to eat the stuffing. And the pie.

For one day a year, it’s ok to feel so full that you have to undo the top button of your pants (come on, we’ve all done it). For one day a year, it’s ok to be free of all of your food fears and neuroses and just enjoy it. Enjoy the family time, the turkey, as many side dishes as you want, and your favorite desserts. The key word here is to enjoy it. If you’ve eaten so much that you stop enjoying it, just stop. Savor what you do have, because if you don’t want to turn into a lump on the couch, it’s time to go back to your healthy lifestyle following the holiday.

Don’t worry about how to make it “healthy”. Don’t worry about how to make your holiday meal fit into your diet. Just eat it, enjoy it, and move on the next day. We’re on this earth to live, right? Sometimes you’ve just gotta learn to enjoy the present moments without worrying. Just be conscious of resuming your healthy habits once the holiday is over, and you’ll be golden.

Now go ahead, just eat.

Happy Thanksgiving to my US readers, and to everyone else, happy Thursday! What are your favorite dishes to enjoy on this holiday? Do you ever feel guilty for eating too much on holidays? Do you follow your diet rules on holidays or just enjoy? 

Thankful

A funny thing happened on my bike ride home from work last night. 

And by funny, I mean not funny at all.

I was near the end of my ride, down to the last 1 mile stretch of my quick 5 mile ride home,  when a pizza delivery car pulled out of a parking lot…

and ran…

right

into

me.

As I realized he wasn’t stopping, and it was too late to stop myself, I yelled in a feeble attempt to alert him, while also swerving away.

I knew it was coming though, and felt that thud of the car against my back tire. I let out a rather loud F-bomb as I was knocked to the ground, landing with my ankle pinned under my bike, which was pinned under his car.

And just like that, I was one of “those” cyclists. Those with stories of getting hit, of getting doored, or otherwise having run-ins with motorists.

Luckily, I was also one of those cyclists who could get up and walk away from such an accident.

Many can’t.

I’m a little banged up with some scrapes in various places. My back doesn’t feel too hot and my ankle is throbbing, and DAMN IT I was supposed to run stadiums this morning.

But I’m Thankful. 

Thankful that my body is strong enough to get up and walk away from this accident. 

Thankful that I was wearing my helmet (ALWAYS wear a helmet), because even though I didn’t hit my head this time, it could be the difference between life and death. 

Thankful that there were a couple of very nice motorists who stopped to make sure that I was ok, and to ask if I needed a ride (there are good people out there!)

Thankful that Will was able to come quickly to pick me up, because my bike wasn’t wheeling anywhere, and my ankle didn’t want to walk anywhere. 

Thankful that I could talk to my mom right after it happened. Mom’s make everything better, don’t they? 

I really believe things like this happen for a reason. I know that I’ll be spending time over the next few days with friends, family, and loved ones, and I’ll truly appreciate and savor every minute of it. Not to be dramatic, but you really never know when something will happen and you wont be able to cherish these moments anymore.

The moment my bike was hit, there was a split second where I thought he wasn’t going to stop, and I was going to end up under his car along with my bike. Thankfully, that didn’t happen, but it certainly made me think.

Whether you’ll be with friends, family or by yourself over this Thanksgiving holiday, take time to appreciate and savor the moments you have. Let people know that you love them, and don’t take any of it for granted.

None of us are unbreakable, we are all vulnerable to what life throws at us.

No matter what, over the next few days and beyond, take time to enjoy, appreciate, savor, love, cherish, and celebrate your life and those around you.

Always something to be thankful for

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

7 Travel-Healthy Tips

The volleyball team I work with recently won their conference championship (Yay!) and made it into the NCAA tournament. The first round of the tournament was held in Connecticut, which is a few hours away from us in Boston.  This required an overnight stay at the very least, and up to a 3 night stay depending on how well my team did. Since I didn’t know how long I’d be gone, I didn’t want to chance missing out on 3-4 days of workouts, so I made some effort to be prepared to get a decent workout in even if the hotel we’re staying at didn’t have a great fitness center (or even if it didn’t have one at all).

If you follow me on Instagram you’ve already seen this photo.. A chaotic pile right after the final point in the conference championship match. WINNING! 

 Even though traveling for an NCAA tournament is not on most people’s weekly to-do list, I know a lot of you travel for work, and many of us will also be traveling at the end of this week for Thanksgiving.  Whether traveling for business or pleasure, many of you may get anxious about missing your normal workout routine while on the road, and rightly so. Being thrown off of your routine can be stressful in itself! So I’ve put together a few tips for keeping your health on track when you’re on the road, whether it’s for a few days, a few weeks, or anything in between.

Travel Health and Fitness Made Easy:

1. Invest in some packable gear. As I’ve shown you all here, I have plenty of packable workout gear at home that can easily come with me on the road. When I travel, I generally take at least a resistance band loop, and will sometimes throw in the val slides or jump rope depending on how much room I have.  That way, even if the hotel doesn’t have a fitness center, at least you have a little something with you to spice up your workouts in your room (or to add to a lackluster hotel gym that doesn’t offer what you want).

Jump rope and my version of ValSlides

2. Pack your workout outfit(s) first. If you leave your workout clothes until the end of packing, chances are you’ll decide that they “just wont fit”. Placing them in your suitcase first will avoid that nonsense, and realistically, a tank, shorts, and sports bra won’t take up that much room to begin with. If you’re only traveling for a few days, one outfit should do it (although if you sweat like me, you may have to rinse and hang dry in your hotel bathroom). If your trip is longer, you still don’t need to bring too much more than a couple of outfits, because laundry can always be done (or clothes can just be worn sweaty).

3. Bring along healthy snacks. Anyone that knows me knows I’m a snack person. This is never more exaggerated than when I travel. I seem to have a “but what if I get hungry” complex, where I can’t pack for a trip without a pocket of my bag specifically designated for snacks. However, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, since food on the road is often less healthy than what you get at home. Having your own healthy snacks on hand is a good way to avoid hitting the drive through when your energy levels crash.

One of my usual travel snacks: satisfying, portable, healthy and delicious! 

4. Stick to the plan. I can’t stress this one enough. It can be so easy to go all willy nilly when you’re on a trip. The more you try to stick with your normal food routine, the better off you’ll be. For some reason, when I’m on a trip I always want to eat way more often than I do at home. Reminding yourself of your normal food schedule and generally sticking to it can help prevent you from going too far off the deep end. That being said, I’m also a believer in enjoying your vacation. So if your trip is not a work trip, but a vacation, there’s no need to go hog wild at the buffett, but do please let yourself enjoy some foods that aren’t in your normal rotation.

5. Stay hydrated. Staying hydrated can be one of the most important things when it comes to staying alert, healthy, and just feeling like “yourself”, but it is often the first thing to be forgotten when people travel. Carry a reusable (preferably stainless steal or glass) water bottle and drink up often; it may even be worth it to schedule hydration times into your day. (This is especially applicable if you’re traveling by air). Staying hydrated can also stave off mystery food cravings, and can decrease the urge to munch in between meals.

6. Be Flexible. I know, I know. I said above to try to stick to your plan as much as possible. But what I’m referring to here is your fitness routine. On that specific trip, I missed my beloved deadlift day in the weight room. Did the Holiday Inn in New London Connecticut have a weight rack for me to deadlift? Of course not. But scrapping a whole workout because you can’t do what you planned is just nonsense. Be flexible when you need to, and get a little creative if the equipment available to you is sub-par. And this brings me to my last point, which is…

7. Scope out the joint. At the very least, find out what sort of fitness center (if any) your hotel offers before you go. When I’m traveling for work, I generally don’t have a lot of time for workouts, and when I’m traveling for pleasure, I don’t want to spend all of my time in the hotel gym. Knowing ahead of time what they have to offer will help you to plan your workouts, keeping them quick, efficient, and effective.

How do you keep your health and fitness on track when you travel? Do you tend to eat more or less when you’re on the road? Do you have any small exercise gear you bring along on trips?