Thanksgiving 2012: How to Stay in Shape This Thanksgiving Day

This week is Thanksgiving. For some of us, it is a day to feel good about ourselves by writing depressing blog posts in a dark room and claiming that we were the first ones to ever argue that the Pilgrims killed the entire Native American population on the Third Thursday of every November. For others, who are apparently not cool enough to skip out on a big feast with their friends and families, it is a day to eat, drink, and be merry and thankful for the blessings and virtues in our lives.

But how much eating and drinking is too merry? As a gym rat and one of the few males in this world who wants to get an RD, I wrestled with which side to advocate for on the crowded American dinner table. Should we overindulge ourselves when our country has record high obesity rates and portion sizes that eclipses as recent as the 1980s? Or should we be conservative by replacing Thanksgiving hallmarks with more healthy ingredients?

My conclusion, you ask? Eat till your heart’s content!

The purpose of Thanksgiving is to celebrate family, friends, fortunes and opportunities through the sacred food pathways of our own unique family traditions and culture. All I ask is that we care about the person sitting at our dinner tables and refuse to go to Target after we devour our turkey.

Of course, if I ever got an RD I’m sure I just lost about 25% of my future clients by arguing this way. After all, the average American gains about 7 to 10 pounds during the holiday season (mid-November to mid-January). What sort of dietician would ever support such gluttony?

The answer is a creative one. Many dieticians argue that taking breaks from your “diet” is integral to having a successful one. Diets, which are really more like lifestyles than a designated span of time in your life, can only work when the person has the right psyche to tackle the adjustments. That doesn’t mean we should eat 10 pounds of turkey and stuffing every Thursday, but it does mean that we should be frank about what may cause us to stumble into angst and depression.

With that said, my word of advice should be rather intuitive. Instead of dreading how much your lifestyle will be ruined come November 22, try to prepare yourself. Personally, I’ve added an extra mile to my daily runs and extra reps on the dumbbells for the past four weeks. Whether you have a more moderate or intense workout is another story. Just make sure that you “turn it up a notch” at least two weeks before the turkey showdown.

Another way to brace your waste line for the seconds-line is to incorporate physical activity into your family’s Thanksgiving traditions. Throwing the football around or going for a nice scenic walk during Thanksgiving afternoon maybe a fun way to add a new tradition while subtracting the old poundage.

In summary, live a little. Thanksgiving is the one-day when I don’t want to hear anyone ask about calories. If you want to picket something, stand in front of the mall on Evil Friday.

How much do you trust the information in this article?

Jerome Nathaniel

I am interested in social justice issues that continue to go unaddressed and undermined (prison reform, hunger and poverty and human sex trafficking) by the "juicy" headline stories. I am a recent graduate of the University of Rochester and currently serve as a Hunger Advocate at Rochester's regional food bank, Foodlink. Fun fact: I box, and love to punch things (usually bags. I don't have a problem with people).

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