With Thanksgiving just two weeks away, surely you and your family are already planning your dinner menu and grocery shopping lists. But a huge part of the Thanksgiving tradition goes beyond the giant turkey and Aunt Cathy’s sweet potato casserole: passing out in a food and wine-induced coma on the couch in front of the football game after the big meal.
Maybe this year that doesn’t have to be the case. We all joke about how we’re going to gain a ton of weight over the holidays, but our health (and maintaining a healthy weight) isn’t really a joking matter. Of course it’s fun to indulge over the next couple of months of festivities, but balance is important. And that means attempting to stay active and fit while we gorge ourselves on pumpkin pie and sausage stuffing.
In an attempt to counteract the effects of boatloads of butter and carbohydrates, why not plan a little activity into your holiday? It will break up the monotony a bit, will burn some calories, and might even help reduce any political tension that might rear its ugly head at the dinner table. Some will take a bit of planning, so start thinking about this now. (For example, you might need to ask your guests to bring with them some comfortable walking shoes or sneakers.)
Sign up for a Turkey Trot
I’ve made it an annual tradition to run in a local “Turkey Trot” or race on Thanksgiving Day. It’s typically very early — around 8 or 9 a.m. — which still allows me the time I need to cook all day. As a result of the race, I always feel energized and not so guilty about fully enjoying my very full plates of food for the rest of the day. This year, I even signed my son up for a Tot Trot. His race will only be a 26.2-yard run, but he’ll have a blast, and I’m hoping that he can start to enjoy this tradition with me. By introducing Thanksgiving Day physical activity to him early on in his life, I’m hoping he continues it as he gets older. If you’re not sure where to find an organized Turkey Trot near you, this is a good place to start. A simple Google search will also turn up several options in your area.
Plan your own family Turkey Trot
So you don’t want to run a 5K with a thousand strangers at 8 a.m.? No problem. Recruit your family and friends to run a few miles with you at some point on Thanksgiving morning. It can be a lot of fun when you’re running with people you know. Make it a little competitive, and promise the winner an extra scoop of ice cream on his or her pie à la mode.
Play a friendly game of touch football
You know you’ll be watching football at some point during the day, so why not play a little as well? While the turkey is in the oven and there’s a lull in food preparation, grab all of your guests and a pigskin and head out to the yard. Keep it friendly — no one needs a black eye on a holiday. But playing a little touch football is a fantastic way to burn some calories and to bond with your family and friends in a different way than you normally do. That is what the day is ultimately about anyway, isn’t it?
Take mid-meal walk-and-talks
If you want to try something slightly different this year, consider planning your big meal around several short breaks. In between every course, get everyone up from the table and go on a brisk walk around the block. It’ll change up the conversation, and will keep you from overeating. If you do this three or four times throughout the meal, you’ll probably end up eating less, and definitely won’t feel as stuffed.