If I were to describe my family’s Thanksgiving, I’d say it was…well…cheesy. And I’m all for cheese, but you guys, there comes a time when we all must look at the buffets laid out before us and ask, “Is there anything at all underneath ALL THAT CHEESE?”
This year, we hosted dinner at our house, and everyone brought a dish or two to contribute. Let me give you a brief run-down of what was available (aside from the turkey and gravy):
- Cheesy corn casserole
- Macaroni and cheese
- Gluten-free macaroni and cheese
- Cheesy rice casserole
- Cheese dip with crackers
- Cheesy potato casserole
- Cheesy green bean casserole
- Plus an entire host of carby carbified things like rolls, stuffing, and rolls stuffed with stuffing (Ok, not really this, but seriously, after seeing everything else we had, it’s believable, right?)
Sweet goddess of cheese, it’s a miracle no one had a heart attack. And it’s a miracle I was able to wear pants to work today.
For those of us who are trying—trying so freakin’ hard—to get healthy, how do we survive during the holidays and not feel like we’re sinking into the cheesy quicksand that tempts us at every gathering? Here’s what I’ve come up with:
A Holiday Survival Guide for the Somewhat Healthy CrossFitter
The following are a few tips for surviving a season filled with sugar, cheese, and wine (so much wine). (I’m no Jillian Michaels, so this is by no means an exhaustive…or even scientifically accurate…list. But it helps me.)
- Eat some of the cheese. Just not all the damned cheese. Let’s face it; it’s flippin’ delicious, and we’re going to eat it. Whether it’s at the table, in a closet, on a boat, in a tree, wherever. So, just scoop up a modest amount of your favorite gloppy goodness and enjoy! Do it. Lick your plate if you want. Then send the leftovers home with someone else. Anyone else. This is important. Do NOT, under any circumstances, keep the leftovers. You will want to eat them 12 days later, and you’ll convince yourself there’s no salmonella or other cheese-born bacteria living in your casserole, because…YUM CHEESE! Get rid of the leftovers.
- You are NOT a turkey. Which means you don’t have to stuff yourself until you’re ready to pop. If you’ve been eating healthier, chances are, you’ll feel full sooner and you won’t want 6 plates of cheesy, drippy holiday goodness. Give your body a break and choose only your favorites. Remember, it’s not a contest and you don’t have to eat more stuffing than Uncle Billy to win the holiday.
- Don’t go backwards. Even though you’re allowing yourself some great holiday treats and food, try your best to stick to your workout schedule. If you have a rough schedule (guilty!) and you can’t stick to your exact routine, make time to get out, walk, play, breathe, move, and have fun. The holidays are about a LOT more than food, so try switching your focus and spending time away from the table and the kitchen. This one can be tough if Grandma typically chases you down with giant ladles full of gravy, but you can do it!
- Stay away from the crying machine. Tuck the scale into a nice, safe hiding spot until after the holidays. This is NOT the time to try to lose weight. In fact, if you’re concerned about your weight, work on holding steady and maintaining through the holidays. We’ll all indulge here and there, and punishing yourself over a stray noodle or cookie by obsessively staring at the scale won’t help.
- Don’t go in hungry. If you know you’re heading to a giant cheese fest, try to stick to your regular eating plan before the event. In other words, don’t save up your calories so you can go on a food bender at the buffet—because that’s exactly what you’ll end up doing. And you’ll feel miserable, full, and you’ll eat WAY more junk than you originally intended to. Just eat like normal until the event…then allow yourself some small indulgences.
- Liquids add up. And there are a LOT of liquids to be had during the holidays, many of which are loaded with calories and sugar. The same rules apply here; we’re not robots, and we’re going to indulge a little bit. Just be sure you know what you’re enjoying, and remember, just because it’s liquid doesn’t mean it doesn’t add directly to the bottom line.
- Bring Your Own Veggies. Yeah, this one gets a LOT of great looks from the kiddos in the crowd, especially my own kids. When I show up with an armload of broccoli, it’s no competition whatsoever for the mountainous trays of sweet breads, but it does give us something healthy to munch on when the pickings are slim. Plus, it’s kind of fun to see the reactions when you explain to everyone that you’ve prepared gluten-free paleo cauliflower rice!
- Hydrate, motivate, & rededicate. That’s right. You had a good time. Woot, food bender! Now, plan your shopping outing, plan your wrapping, and plan to get your bootie to the gym. Heck, maybe even conspire to get some friends and family to come with you. Get back in gear, stay in gear, and it’ll all come out in the wash.
And the last, final, most important rule of all:
FORGIVE YOURSELF! We are on a journey. We are on a mission to be better, healthier versions of ourselves. And that means we aren’t going to be perfect every single day. The most important rule is to be nice to yourself. If you had pumpkin pie, then YAY! Me, too. (With the squirty whipped cream!) And it was delicious. And if you overslept or participated in a Black Friday frenzy instead of a WOD, oopsies…I’ma need to do some extra squats, but dang, I got some good deals!
We’re in this together. We’re getting healthy. And we eat cheese. Now go WOD!