I created a Thanksgiving Pledge in 2010 and I have taken this pledge every single year since then. It allows me to enjoy whatever I want on Thanksgiving, without feeling terrible the next day or completely abandoning my healthy living efforts. I encourage you to take it, too!
Thanksgiving is practically synonymous with overeating, but it doesn’t have to be. I work way too hard on my weight loss maintenance to abandon it all, even for a day, to gorge myself on turkey and gravy and mashed potatoes and stuffing and cranberries and green bean casserole and pumpkin pie and apple pie and pecan pie.
So I created my Thanksgiving Pledge. It’s my way to get through Thanksgiving without feeling guilty, while still enjoying everything I want. I avoid kicking off the holiday season with a food coma, and set myself up for success all December long.
Here’s how it works: You pledge to follow four rules on Thanksgiving Day. That’s it. Just four. Here are the rules, with my notes in italics:
Rule #1: I will exercise on Thanksgiving Day. (Go for a walk, a bike ride, do an exercise DVD, play football with the family, rake leaves, ANYTHING. Just get some activity in! I do a 5K Turkey Trot.)
Rule #2: I will photograph everything I eat during Thanksgiving dinner. (I’ll share my photos on this blog, but I encourage everyone to do this, whether you blog or not. It’s about accountability. Taking a photo creates a record of your choices. You can’t ignore, deny, or forget about the food you’ve eaten when there’s a record, nor can you sneak food, because you gotta take that photo!)
Rule #3: I will not get seconds. I will indulge in a reasonable portion of anything I want, and I will enjoy it, but I will not go back for more. This includes dessert.
Rule #4: I will not graze or pick at food as it is prepared, emerges from the oven, or gets transferred to serving platters or leftover containers. I must place all food that I intend to eat on a plate, and eat it at the table.
Here are some additional tips, because some of these rules aren’t easy.
- Get your exercise over with in the morning. Schedule it into your day if you have to. It will be harder to do once family and friends arrive, or you arrive somewhere else, and you won’t want to do it after dinner, that’s for sure!
- Rule #4 can be the hardest, because Thanksgiving dinner takes hours and hours to prepare. So chew gum if you have to, or pop a breath mint. Keep a bag of baby carrots nearby, so if you’re feeling peckish, you can munch on something healthy.
- If you break a rule, don’t sweat it – just get back on track. I’ve broken a rule or two in minor ways, and I don’t beat myself up. The main idea is that this pledge provides a strategy, and I need that, because otherwise, it can be a free-for-all for my mouth and my fork, and I want to enjoy the holiday – and the long weekend that follows – without regret. Even if you stick to two or three of these rules, you’re likely to be much better off – and feel much better about yourself – than if you didn’t take the pledge at all!
I hope you take the pledge – and drop a line in the comments section if you modify it to suit your situation… your modification may help others!
I’ll share my Thanksgiving photos after the big day. Let me know how it goes for you!
Keep it up, David!
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