12 Things Better than a Holiday Food Coma

By Dave DiFabio

The Fall, for many, marks a return to work or school. Schedules get really hectic and we start making excuses for missing workouts and eating junk food. For some people, Labor Day weekend, the unofficial start of Fall, also marks the start of tailgating season. Combine these factors and so begins the free fall to holiday weight gain.

Before you know it, it's Thanksgiving. You'll wonder how you've already gained weight and lost that summer beach body you worked so hard for. If you're not careful, focused, and dedicated, it will creep up on you over the next two months. The downward spiral doesn't have to start with tailgating season. I believe that food and life are to be enjoyed. Both can be enjoyed without guilt and without weight gain as long as you apply the strategies I wrote about it in two of my latest articles: "Stop Acting Like an Adult" and "Back to School Fitness Tips".

Speaking of food and guilt, let's talk more about Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. What's not to love? The crisp Fall weather, some time away from work, time with family and friends (without the stress of bringing gifts), homemade food, and of course football!

We all can agree that Thanksgiving is one of the best holidays, yet many people feel very guilty at the end of the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. They feel guilty about the lack of activity and the over abundance of food.
Maybe that's why the Monday after Thanksgiving is the single busiest day in my fitness center?

So what can I do to help you minimize the guilt? Perhaps, I could write an article about healthy Thanksgiving recipes. No, I won't do that. I plan on "cheating" a bit on that day. I plan to eat some of my mom's homemade mashed potatoes and plan to drink some of my dad's homemade wine.

It's OK to cheat 10% of the time as long as you do the right things the other 90% of the time.

Like I said, food is meant to be enjoyed. Since I plan on cheating a little on Thanksgiving, I feel like it would be slightly hypocritical of ME to write a healthy recipe article. However, I do KNOW that I will find a way to get some exercise before all the festivities start that day. Therefore, I feel completely comfortable writing an article about doing something else other than passing-out after your Thanksgiving Feast. That being said, enjoy your meal slowly to avoid over eating. Then allow time to digest and enjoy some free time with your friends and family. Finally, skip the nap and replace it with any number of the activities listed below to work on your mental and/or physical well-being.

Here, in no particular order, you will find 12 Things Better than a Turkey Coma.

1) Go for a walk or bike ride with a friend or family member you haven't seen in a while to "catch-up on things"

2) Walk to the local parade.

3) Walk to the park and just enjoy being out doors. Maybe you can play some tennis or shoot some hoops while you're there.

4) Toss the pigskin around with the rest of the football fans in the house. I'm sure there will be at least one other than you.

5) Break out the old board games. It won't be difficult to get a group gathered around the table. Soon enough you'll notice the energy being generated in the room.

6) Speaking of games, any Nintendo Wii game that requires participants to get out of their chair or off of the couch is a great way to liven up the party.

7) Put on some music and dance like nobody is watching!

8) Plan and participate in Thanksgiving themed arts and crafts activities for the children at your holiday gathering. They'll love you even more and you might be surprised at how much you laugh. Remember, laughter is not only infectious but it burns calories too. 15 minutes of laughter can burn 10 to 40 calories.

9) Read a book (perhaps one about the History of Thanksgiving) to the children at your holiday gathering. Who knows, perhaps you'll learn something new. At the very least, it will get them to fall asleep and you can then enjoy some peace and quiet.

10) Maybe other members of your party are fitness enthusiast or maybe they want to be. Get them all together, find a quiet part of the house perhaps with a carpeted floor and do 15 minutes of yoga and/or core exercises. This a great way to not only get some moral support but to also learn some new ideas/tips/exercises from each other.

11) Meditate and/or pray. Take some time to recharge and focus on what you are thankful for and what's really important in your life.

12) When all else fails use the internet. No I'm not suggesting you spend your entire day on twitter or face book. Instead search keywords such as "Thanksgiving Activities". You'll be amazed at what you'll find.

Got your own list of 12 things Better than a Turkey Coma? Tell me, I'm all ears. Just send me your list via my profile page here: http://trainers.fitorbit.com/personal-fitness/DaveDiFabio I'll publish the top 12 in my next article!

Happy Holidays!

Dave DiFabio MA, CSCS, USAW

Owner/Strength & Conditioning Coach - Team Speed Fitness LLC