Tomorrow those of us in, or from, the United States celebrate Thanksgiving. We’ll gather with family and friends to channel our inner hobbits by stuffing our bodies full of food and drink. Maybe this indulgence lasts for one meal, or maybe it lasts from appetizers til the last of the leftovers are eaten next week. Either way, far more food is consumed than usual, which can leave a person feeling full, tired, bloated, and maybe a little low.
When trying to lose weight, train for an event, or generally embrace a healthier lifestyle, the holidays can be pretty daunting. Food is fuel, but it’s also a part of socializing and celebrating. So how do we stick to a nutrition plan that’s going to get us to our health and fitness goals, while also allowing for room to enjoy food?
Well, it’s about planning.
Using the SMART goal philosophy will be helpful in planning and achieving health and fitness goals during the holidays. This involves creating specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-sensitive goals in order to implement behavior that will lead us toward our greater health and fitness related goals.
For example, I know that there’s going to be a lot food, most of which aren’t conducive to my weight lose or training goals, on Thanksgiving. My basic goals for Thanksgiving (and the rest of the holiday season) are to indulge a bit, but mostly stick to my plant-based, clean (minimally processed), and lean diet, as well as to get back into my exercise routine post-food coma.
Applying the SMART goal philosophy to these goals, I’m going to get more specific (I will keep half of my dinner plate comprised of vegetables; I will do my 30 minute HIIT routine DVD), measurable (I will eat one serving portions; I will do this routine once), achievable (yes, I’m still allowing myself to have gravy, stuffing, mashed potatoes, appetizers, etc.; yes, I have 30 minutes available over the holiday), realistic (yes, I can enjoy Thanksgiving without over-stuffing myself or denying the existence of vegetables; yes, no food-coma lasts so long I’ll never exercise again), and time-sensitive (I will indulge in this Thanksgiving plan on that day & will return to my normal eating habits on Friday; I will do this workout on Friday at 2pm).
Now I know exactly what I’m going to do for tomorrow and can enjoy the holiday without the guilt of going off of my nutrition plan and without the stress of derailing my exercise and weight lose momentum.
Finally, we’ve all got a bit of Hobbit in us – that part that loves to drink, eat, socialize, and do it again. We also have a bit of Elves (I imagine them as being wonderful at getting their greens and controlling portions), Men (ranging over Middle Earth or riding horses – they are active people who get their cardio), Dwarves (they’ve got to be strong to swing an axe or hammer), and Wizards (knowledgable and strategic). Remember that it took all of those races to destroy the one ring and save Middle Earth, so it’ll take all of their respective aspects of health to achieve our own goals. Sometimes, like over Thanksgiving, we’re a little more like one than the others (just like the Fellowship was giving off a whole lot of Took when Pippin knocked the bucket down the well in Moria), but those other aspects of the group kicked in and things ended up well (not necessarily right away and not necessarily in that book/film).
So channel you’re inner hobbit, but don’t forget to also channel your inner elf, ranger/rider, dwarf, and wizard. And have a wonderful Thanksgiving.