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By Greg Hottinger, Biggest Loser Club Nutritionist
As Thanksgiving weekend approaches, you are probably wondering how your Biggest Loser diet will survive. You've worked hard to this point and have gotten a good start on weight loss. But on Thursday, you might find yourself sharing the celebration with Aunt Millie and the gang, surrounded by the family favorites, such as turkey stuffing, mashed potatoes with gravy, broccoli casserole, and pumpkin pie.
Since these are some of the most delicious foods you've ever tasted, you wonder how you're supposed to enjoy Thanksgiving day on a measly 1200 calories.
The first step is to gain some perspective on Thanksgiving and the other major holidays by considering the big picture. Imagine two large pickle jars, one that is empty and one that contains 365 pennies. Now imagine that you are told to remove a penny from the one pickle jar and put into the empty pickle jar for every time that you knew you'd blow your diet during the calendar year.
You might start with the obvious holidays, like Easter, Christmas, and Thanksgiving. Plink, plink, plink, you put three pennies into the empty pickle jar. Then another penny for New Year's day, your birthday, Valentine's day, Mother's day, Father's Day, the 4th of July, and seven pennies for the week at the beach in August. When you've come up with the obvious ones and you're considering Arbor Day, stop and take a moment to take a look at your two jars.
In one jar you have 30 or so pennies and in the other, the remaining 335 pennies. The 30 or so pennies are the times each year that you KNOW that you're going to splurge and "blow your diet." The jar with 335 pennies, however, represents your Biggest Loser program, the one that has helped you lose weight, regain your health, look better, and feel great!
You can see that what you do on the 335 days of the year that you follow your program closely is much more important than what happens on those 30 splurge days. But as you know, it's not that easy. The problem is that when we fall off the wagon, it may take us days and days to get back to our program.
Thanksgiving day can easily spill over into Thanksgiving weekend. Our 30 splurge days turn in to 90. Why does this happen? Use the following five strategies to help you enjoy the Thanksgiving weekend and still keep your Biggest Loser program intact.
Strategy #1: Give Yourself Permission
If the Thanksgiving meal is a special one for you, plan to enjoy it. Make an agreement with yourself that it's OK to not have a weight-loss day. You've worked hard thus far and your enjoying Thanksgiving dinner is not going to ruin anything.
Strategy #2: Frame Your Thanksgiving Splurge
Keep your indulgences to just the meal, not the entire weekend. A key to weight-loss success is learning how to keep your exercise program and eating structure healthy the day before and the day after your celebration. This is called "framing" your splurge.
Strategy #3: Have a Plan
To make strategy #2 work, you'll need to plan out the details so that you can stay on track. Can you make Wednesday before Thanksgiving a normal day? What's your plan for exercise during the four-day weekend?
Strategy #4: The Splurge
Remember that your Thanksgiving meal isn't your last one on planet Earth. How can you maximize your pleasure, fully enjoy the meal, but still feel like you made good decisions? One strategy is to not come into the meal famished. Being too hungry will set you up for gorging yourself. The goal here is to have a great time and enjoy your company. Focus on those foods that you love, eat slowly, and give yourself permission to savor them.
Strategy #5: Take Pride in Your Recovery
Now itís time to get back on track. If you overate, don't beat yourself up about it. If you did well with your choices, then congratulate yourself. Your overall success depends on how quickly you can recover from these special days. If your Thanksgiving normally spills over into Friday and Saturday, can you do it differently this year? How about choosing one special food and having a serving of it with lunch on Friday and then being done with leftovers (except for turkey breast)? Remember the pickle jar analogy; Friday is a day to get back to the one that represents your Biggest Loser program. Make this a great (and healthy) Thanksgiving!