Wanna Avoid Over-“Stuffing” Yourself this Season? Let’s Talk Turkey!

The countdown for Thanksgiving is on, and chances are, we’ve all got¬†food on the brain. After all, baked goodies and comfort carbs are hallmark holiday traditions, but they often come at the expense of our waistlines.

So, in response to¬†Turkey Day’s delectable yet potentially “diet derailing” fare, follow these pointers for mindful — and enjoyable!¬†— eating:

Avoid Thanksgiving Overeating

1.   Don’t deprive yourself by skipping the pre-Thanksgiving meals.

Count on this rookie mistake to backfire when you face a smorgasbord of tempting morsels, while that empty stomach begs for relief. Hunger pangs increase the appetite, inevitably causing overindulgence. So, rather than restricting your intake altogether, choose light yet satisfying options for breakfast and lunch. For example, oatmeal topped with fresh fruit is both a hearty and healthy start to the morning, and a green salad loaded with colorful vegetables is an ideal afternoon pick-me-up.

2.   When the  feasting begins, allocate small amounts of each dish.

An average portion size equals the size of your fist, so apply this guideline when charging through the buffet line. Resist the urge to pile your plate with every delicacy within reach.¬†Sure, you can’t wait to sample the entire spread, but a¬†few bites of each tasty tidbit should suffice. View¬†this meal as a marathon,¬†— not a¬†sprint — so pace that ravenous appetite. And, remember: dinner isn’t the only course.

3.   Fill the majority of your plate with veggies and eat them first.

Before digging into that fluffy cornbread, caramelized¬†yams or quintessential butterball, consume those often overlooked side dishes — green beans, squash, beets and, of course, the relish tray. Starting¬†your meal with nutrient-dense vegetables¬†will curb initial cravings. So, rather than inhaling the carbs, sugars, fats and high-caloric items, you might just manage a few cursory nibbles.

4.   During the meal, chew slowly and pause between mouthfuls.

Don’t devour the deliciousness in such record time that you barely taste any flavor. Instead, savor these traditional comfort foods and allow the familiar aromas, seasonings and textures to fill you with nostalgia. Instead of letting the entire meal revolve around your taste buds, actively engage in table conversations and create memories with loved ones. Also, deliberately set your utensils down after swallowing each bite and take a break before resuming the graze-fest.

5.   Unless you’re still HUNGRY, avoid sneaking back for seconds.

Practice self-restraint by repeating the following mantra in your head: ‚ÄúI‚Äôm saving room for dessert. I‚Äôm saving room for dessert. I‚Äôm saving room for dessert‚Ķ‚ÄĚ This will motivate¬†you to fight¬†temptation until it subsides. Meanwhile, stay occupied between courses by leaving the table and participating in a physical activity to jumpstart digestion, prevent further pitfalls and¬†burn post-dinner calories. Take a brisk nature walk, organize a touch football scrimmage, recruit some friends¬†for an abridged Turkey Trot, or even volunteer to¬†wash dishes.

6. ¬† Don’t¬†deny the¬†dessert¬†cravings, but limit yourself to a sliver.

Pumpkin, pecan, apple, sweet potato…Oh, the cruelty of¬†choosing just one!¬†¬†But, in the seasonal spirit of gratitude, give thanks¬†for will-power. Here’s¬†another instance where portion control becomes key. There’s no reason to dodge the dessert¬†station altogether — just don’t reach a level of physical discomfort. Experience a few spoonfuls of your favorite treat, then back away once that sweet tooth is satisfied.

Finally, consider this promising prospect: food-centric holidays mean leftovers for the whole week ahead!

On Turning Your Body Image from Naughty to Nice

The holidays are a challenging time of year for me.

I won’t even bother pretending otherwise.

So, with Christmas just 2 days around the corner, that telltale anxiety has begun creeping up on me.

In T-48 hours, the festivities will commence. I’ll be plied with cut-out cookies, green bean casserole (whose appearance at the buffet table always makes me wonder: why is this even a thing???), and every sugary beverage imaginable. I’ll spend Christmas dinner inwardly squirming because there’s no socially acceptable reason to escape “family time” for a stress-relieving workout.

And — most cringe-worthy of all — I’ll nod and *fake* smile as the table conversation invariably shifts to,¬†“I reeeeeeally shouldn’t eat this, but…”

Don’t give me wrong though, I still love the holidays.

No, seriously. I do.

I’m a sucker for seasonal traditions. I can flawlessly quote¬†Elf, and I know the lyrics to every musical sequence in¬†White Christmas¬†(that’s right…not just the title song!). I’m always convinced reindeer can fly upon watching the “Santa Tracker” with my younger cousins. In fact, I’m even listening to “Baby, It’s Cold Outside,” while typing this post.

Yep. There’s no denying it. Christmas is magical.

Too bad the magic often takes a backseat to my “holiday weight”-centric neurosis.

Negative body image seems grossly intensified during this time of year, and I sure wish Santa would fill my stocking with manuals on getting through the season, unscathed by those pesky insecurities. All gift-wrapped and foolproof because I am¬†on the Nice List, don’tcha know.

Right. If only.

Instead, I’m left to my own devices when faced with excessive eating, thoughtless comments, and degrading voices inside my head. And — if you’re anything like me — you’ve likely experienced the exact same struggle.

But, since we’ve established the Big Guy won’t be bringing any “Body Image Survival Guides” on his sleigh anytime soon, I’ll leave you with this:

3 strategies, which have empowered me to sidestep feelings of inadequacy, so I can actually enjoy the festivities. Maybe you’ll find them helpful, as well. Just sayin’…

  1. If you want a cookie, have a cookie!¬†Depriving yourself ¬†is counterproductive and will frequently lead to a binge. Instead of suppressing a sweet tooth or restricting your regular intake to compensate for said sweet tooth, only to lose control and devour the whole damn cookie jar when nobody’s looking, allow yourself some wiggle room. Don’t overindulge, but listen to those internal hunger cues. If your body is craving chocolate chip goodness, for instance, feed the urge. ¬†Eat 1 cookie. Taste it. Savor it. Then, walk away from the remaining dozen. Sweet tooth satisfied. Anxiety alleviated.
  2. Enough already with “good” vs. “bad” foods!¬†There are no bad foods (unless they’re loaded with artificial preservatives…then, they can’t really be considered food). Only bad eating habits. Example: I might avoid green bean casserole, but my sister loves that shit. Therefore, green bean casserole is neither “good” nor “bad.” Regardless of our individual taste buds, it’s still just food. How food is consumed, though, can be detrimental. Whether you’re obsessively counting calories or mindlessly munching until nausea ensues, you fall into the disordered eating category. ¬†So, eliminate those labels. If you like something, just eat it.
  3. You can be social while staying in shape!¬†Rather than sneaking away from the crowd to sweat off Christmas dinner, turn exercise into a family bonding activity. Take a brisk walk around the neighborhood together, while enjoying holiday lights. Organize a backyard touch football scrimmage. Even play Wii Sports with your cousins (that’s what I do!). By all means, get moving! Just don’t let fitness take precedence over relationships. Strike a healthy balance. Instead of turning your desire for physical exertion into a covert mission, invite others to join in the action.

Oh, and (because…randomness) here’s a picture of some cookies.

Christmas cookies¬†Yes, I baked them. I also —¬†gasp! — ate them.

Guiltlessly.

If I can, anyone can.

You’re welcome (and Merry Christmas!).

Video

Yoga Week 3: a “Mindful Core”

…As described by¬†Adriene Mishler of Yoga With Adriene, a YouTube channel I recently discovered while combing through “yoga workout video” Google results.

I was initially looking for Jillian Michaels’ Yoga Meltdown Level 2¬†since I’d completed Level 1 last week, but my search hit a snag – Level 2 is nowhere to be found on the world wide (waste of a) web. It’s available for purchase on Amazon, but – being the cheapo that I am – paying for the second installment when the first installment was free…yeah, not gonna happen!

So, that’s when I stumbled upon “Yoga With Adriene.” I tried her 40 Minute Fat Burn¬†for starters, and – with over 90 other videos on this channel – I’ll be in for the long-haul.

Although this particular yoga session was more calming and free-flowing than the high-intensity workout you can expect from Jillian, my core “hurt so good” by the end of those 40 minutes. ¬†Every posture was designed to subtly engage the abdominals in such a way that, at first, I didn’t even realize how much emphasis was being placed on those muscle groups.

Between the warm-up, actual flow and final cool-down, my body felt invigoratingly loose and my abs powerfully tight. It was a delicious combination! I wouldn’t call these poses difficult by any means (even for a beginner), but they put an unmistakable fire in my belly.

And in my book, that’s mission accomplished.

Below is a link to the video and – as with Yoga Meltdown – some screenshots for your perusal:

(I’d also highly recommend subscribing to Yoga With Adriene. I did!)

yoga with adriene 1

yoga with adriene 2

yoga with adriene 3

yoga with adriene 4

yoga with adriene 5

yoga with adriene 6

yoga with adriene 7

yoga with adriene 8

*Disclaimer: I DO NOT own the rights to these images or video*

Yoga Chronicles Week 1: A Rediscovery

yoga arts

This weekend, I attended my first yoga class in about 2 years.

The studio I went to, a converted 1920’s bungalow adorably decorated in a tropical Old Key West style, is called Yoga Arts and primarily focuses on an alignment-based Hatha practice.

Specifically, the session centered around pranayama¬†(a Sanskrit term, meaning “extension of the life force” and the basis of meditative breathing), as well as therapeutic movements to alleviate muscular or skeletal tension.

As someone, who possesses a general background in yoga but hasn’t practiced regularly – okay…okay…at all¬†– in quite awhile, this Hatha flow (ideal for beginners, in case you’re reading this as a yogi novice yourself, wondering where to start) was the perfect way to get my feet wet again.

I was pleasantly surprised by how much muscle memory I’ve retained. Granted the poses covered in this class weren’t extremely challenging, but – after taking such a long hiatus – it had definitely crossed my mind that I wouldn’t be able to keep pace. Turns out, yoga is like “riding a bike,” as the old expression goes.

What I love most about starting a morning off with yoga – as I rediscovered today – is the combination of low-impact relaxation and high-energy performance. I’d forgotten how even the simplest postures can improve flexibility, tighten “problem areas,” and lubricate a body’s range-of-motion without the strain, associated with some other work-outs.

There’s something tranquilly tantric about yoga. Organic. Fluid. Visceral. It’s not just an exercise. It’s a nearly out-of-body experience. A unity between the physical, mental, and emotional states. By stabilizing one’s thoughts and actions, yoga brings balance to the entire being.

Almost like poetry, you know?

Until rolling out my mat this morning for the first time since college, I didn’t even realize how much I’ve missed yoga. How much I crave this (newly-reinstated) fixture in my life. And it sure feels good to get back into practice! I’m already looking forward to another session next weekend.

So, on that note…Namaste.