Tag Archives: thanksgiving

Holiday Food Lag

1 Dec
All this and more over the next few weeks...

All this and more over the next few weeks…

Courtesy of Tumblr

Like many people, I enjoyed my Thanksgiving holiday. I ate dinner with my 91-year-old grandfather and 84-year-old grandmother, I baked seven pies and a cobbler (plus a caramel cake), I put away at least a half-pound of the 39 pounds of turkey (three birds) and I got to hang out with my family, most of whom I haven’t seen in a year.

For many, Thanksgiving is just pre-gaming for the Big Show: Christmas. That’s when the real gluttonous activity happens. For me, Christmas is much quieter. For one thing: I have to work that day. For another: I usually spend that evening having dinner at my cousin’s house. It’s all very low-key, especially without the dozens of desserts, so there’s less temptation to shirk my dietary responsibilities.

I like to call it the Holiday Food Lag. It starts with the sugar-and-salt fest of Thanksgiving and ends with the sugar-and-salt fest: part 2 of Christmas. In the middle, there will be end-of-year office parties, friends’ holiday parties, extra cookies, lots of liquor and many a chicken satay coming your way. You’ll be tempted to give up the exercise and dietary plans because what’s the point? Someone’s going to be shoving more sugar-and-salt in your face in a couple days.

It’s easy to see the Holiday Food Lag as a way to just take a month off. There’s so much to do in those four weeks, it can be burdensome to add one more thing to the to-do list. Still, you have to make yourself your No. 1 priority.

Before I began my weight-loss journey, I was still living in Atlanta, where the Chick-fil-As and Waffle Houses were aplenty. Barbecue as far as the eye can see. Publix sandwiches at the ready. And, my personal favorite, a Wendy’s around the corner. Plus, my grandmother cooked big dinners every Sunday. It wasn’t unhealthy, but when Gram makes your favorite of cabbage with a side of macaroni and cheese, you don’t say no to second helpings (sounds gross, but that’s because you’ve never had Gram’s cabbage with a side of macaroni and cheese). I would cook occasionally, but most of the time I just didn’t feel like it.

Then the holidays would come (all holidays: Easter, Mother’s Day, Fourth of July, etc.), plus the dozen birthdays throughout the year, and you’ve got plenty of excuses to “get back on track come Monday.” As I’ve said before, there’s no time like the present. These few weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas are no exception.

Well, this is the time to test your resistance. Can you forgo the third round of champagne? Can you say no the the eighth batch of Christmas cookies brought into the office? Can you get up early to work out to counter all the sliders that will be wafted in front of you that evening? Of course you can. You’re a strong-willed person who knows what’s good for them. And you can even start your resistance training early.

All those desserts from last Thursday are going to go bad if they’re not eaten soon, so take them to work. Freeze some of that turkey to use in a soup for later. If you’re celebrating Christmas, burn some calories by setting up your Christmas decorations. If you plan on spending New Year’s at the beach, now’s the time to make sure your bathing suit still fits. And if you told yourself “I’ll get back on track come Monday,” guess what? It’s Monday.

You’ll be doing the most this season, from shoveling out of blockades of snow to elbowing someone in the face for the latest toy craze. Just don’t neglect yourself and your health in the process.

Cravings vs. Hunger: Thanksgiving Edition

26 Nov
Last year's dessert table after people had taken hold. Missing are the pies.

Last year’s dessert table after people had taken hold. Missing are the pies.

For the past three months, I’ve had tunnel vision while in beast mode. Sure, I’ve gone out to dinner and drinks a few times. But for the most part, I’ve been sticking to the plan. The 20 pounds I’d gained in the past year are almost gone (*praise hands*). And just in time for Thanksgiving.

I’ve mentioned before about how my family gets down at Thanksgiving. This holiday is not a game to my people. There will be (I believe, I haven’t gotten the menu email yet): three turkeys, two ducks, two hams, two trays of sweet potatoes, two trays of macaroni and cheese, oyster casserole, green bean casserole, corn casserole, greens, rolls and corn bread…at least. And I haven’t even gotten to the dessert table, which will have at least seven pies and four cakes.

I’ve been on my grind recently, preparing my own small meals, eating light and staying active. I’m now in Atlanta where I’m a guest who doesn’t want to crowd her aunt’s already stuffed refrigerators (yes, plural). I’m used to my home where the snacks are few. I’m in Atlanta where my large family keeps snacks in the house because you never know who’s coming by, especially during the holidays.

But most of all, I have to fight the cravings that will trick me into satiating my hunger. The food tomorrow will be plentiful. But I’m going to do my best to stay true the me that’s been kicking ass for the past few months.

1. Leave some white space on the plate. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: you don’t have to clean your plate. We usually tell the young kids to make a “happy plate” to get them to eat what’s in front of them. It’s different for them because they get distracted by one another and won’t eat, which, of course, is something they must do. For us adults, there’s no need to cover every inch of your plate with food, pile it inches high and take your own advice of making  a happy plate. With all the food we’ll have, there will be plenty to go around if you want seconds.

2. Load up on the veggies. Despite all the casseroles, we’re really good about our veggies. My first stop will be the greens, because I love greens. Like…we have a thing. Add in a cornbread muffin and some hot sauce and I’ll be straight. The green beans, I’m sure, will also be on point. Then the sweet potatoes. If there’s still some room, I’ll take a few slices of dark meat and keep it moving. Keeping up some of the good habits I’ve developed over the past few months will keep me from going overboard.

3. Keep tabs on the bar tab. The wine and liquor will be flowing, I’m sure. Despite my old age of 34, my family still thinks of me as a 15. So my occasional glass of wine is often greeted with a side eye. But after everyone’s had a few, no one notices I’m on my way to killing a bottle. I’ve got to watch that. The fun and merriment tomorrow cannot be greeted by a hangover the following day.

4. Sweetie pie. I know I’ve said I have a thing with hummus, Goldfish crackers and greens. But nothing compares to my love for my grandmother’s peach pie. It is outstanding. The homemade crusts are to die for. The pie filling oozes off the sides. And heated up with some ice cream or whipped cream? You’ve never had perfection until you’ve had one of Beulah Lucille’s pies. I don’t get to Atlanta often, so I have to take advantage of the goodies while they’re available. But my old habit of hoarding the peach pie to myself will come to an end this year. I’ll have a slice or two, but I won’t go face first like it’s a pie-eating contest.

5. Relish the relish dish. We keep appetizers out because my family can’t do anything on time. I make it a habit of arriving hungry to family functions because there will always be an abundance of food. The problem is the food isn’t always ready at the designated time. And I don’t do hunger well. Lucky for me, my aunt keeps the relish dishes out so I can pop some carrots, olives or celery sticks when needed—which is always. Plus, bonus points for the low-cal relish dishes, so I’m not overindulging while waiting for my turkey.

Of course, the best thing about tomorrow will be getting to spend time with my family. I haven’t seen everyone since last Thanksgiving. Being around them will fill me up more than tryptophan.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Stress: Not Something to Be Thankful For

24 Nov
Pro tip: Do it early!

Pro tip: Do it early!

Some people thrive off of change. I’m not one of those people. I’m a bit of a control freak who likes to have my ducks in a row and Plans B-Z at the ready should anything go awry.

That’s why the holiday season is both a blessing and a curse for someone like me. This time of year brings on a number of stressors and unforeseen obstacles that you can’t really plan for. Between travel, gifts, loved ones not being there, loved ones there who you wish weren’t and the break from your routine, it’s enough to make you scream. I’d like to be able to role with the punches, but I’d also like to know where they are coming from.

Stress is one of many factors that can derail your weight-loss journey, causing a negative effect on your health. It can cause you to overeat, get headaches and even depression. And no one wants that when there are babies to hold and pie to eat.

I’ll be travelling this year, as I always do for the Thanksgiving holiday. I’ll get to see a lot of family that I haven’t seen in a while and a new addition who I can’t wait to hold (hey, Harper!). The things I can prepare for are already taken care of. While I can’t control who makes the potato salad, here are a few things I’ve done (and you can, too) to alleviate some unwanted pressures.

1. Clean up. Because I’ll be gone for a few days, I cleaned up my apartment before I left. I’ve mentioned before that I’m a slob, especially when I’m in beast mode. But even still, no one wants to return to a messy  home. The stress of getting to and from the airport, rental cars, lugging luggage, etc., is enough to make you want to shoot yourself. Having a clear path from the door to your made-up bed will only make you smile on your return home.

2. Stay hydrated. One of the many benefits of water—besides keeping your internal system flowing—is what it does for you on the plane. Cabin pressure makes the air very dry. And if you’re a nervous  flier, you’ll be tempted to test out the mini bottles of alcohol. Resist temptation. Alcohol only causes further dehydration, which can make you even more uncomfortable on the plane. Drink some water or some hot tea to keep a cool head until the plane lands.

3. Preparation is key. Just like your weight-loss journey, your travel journey won’t take you far unless you’re prepared. Friends can attest that I have a horrible habit of packing my bags in the wee early hours the day of my departure. What can I say? I work best under pressure. But what they don’t know is I’ve already picked up my clothes from the cleaners and separated out what I’m going to take with me while I’m away. The next step is just folding and rolling into the suitcase. I’ll get eight hours of sleep if it kills me.

4. Set aside some me time. I’ll be with at least 30 family members over the course of five days. At some point, I’m going to need to sit in a quiet corner by myself. And that’s OK. I’m introverted; it’s what we introverts do. If the prospect of being in a crowd is too much for you, go for a walk. Take a book to a corner. Pop in your headphones for a few minutes. A little me time will make the “we” time much better.

5. Don’t forget who you were before you left. Beast mode has been really good for the past few months, but now I’ve got to set that aside for a week. That’s fine because we all need time off. But that doesn’t mean I’m going to stop taking care of myself. I’ll still be mentally check-listing the food that I eat and the activities I’ve done. I’ll set aside a couple of days to go for a run just so I don’t lose that part of myself. And maybe I’ll get a few people to come along with me.

This is the time of year to be thankful, and I’m ever so thankful for my family, friends, health and livelihood.