I see so many people approach Thanksgiving with hesitation and some dread due to all of the hearty and tempting foods that await them, threatening to derail them from their hard-earned fitness and nutrition routine.
But what if Thanksgiving isn't actually this daunting temptation that we have built it up to be? What if it is actually a day that sets a precedent for what all of our days and weeks should look like? This week I want to take a moment to look at Thanksgiving through a bit of a different lens. Looking at the day in its entirety vs. only a day of food and eating. Looking at the big picture, we can see that Thanksgiving is a day of thanks, a day of activity, a day of, yes, carbs, but also a day of protein, a day of cooking in the home, and a day or evening of gathering together around the table. To me, this is not a day to dread but a day to embrace and to model all other days that follow. As we enter into our Thanksgiving celebrations, let's stop and think about how the day and the days that follow can incorporate the following core traditions of this fun, foodie, family-centered day.
Give Thanks: Remember each day to be thankful for what God has blessed us with regardless of the rough patches we may have encountered . While we certainly have struggles and disappointments, God holds us up in miraculous ways if our eyes are open to see it.
Play & Exercise: Each day, try to get out and get moving. Maybe it's a run like your Thanksgiving morning Turkey Trot. Maybe it's throwing the football or baseball with your friends or family. Maybe it's just a lunchtime walk with a friend / classmate / coworker. Whatever it may be, keep the heart rate up, keep it fun, and keep it consistent.
Get Cooking: Although making its way back into the spotlight, cooking, I think, has become a lost art. However, cooking can help us learn about our food, it can help us appreciate what we are eating, and it can be much healthier (and often tastier) than always eating out!
Eat the Carbs & the Protein: Most people equate Thanksgiving to carbs... casserole upon casserole, rolls, potatoes, pies, and then some protein mixed in. Of course, we don't want to fill each day with casseroles and pie, but we also don't want to shun carbs all together and we certainly want to keep our protein intake steady. Carbs are the first source of fuel for our brains and muscles. Carbs fuel the muscles for workouts and replenish depleted stores after an intense workout. Protein helps to repair any muscle fibers torn during the workout or helps heal the body after sickness or injury. These two go hand-in-hand and should be included daily in varying amounts depending on the individual.
Gather: Gathering around the table is becoming another antiquated tradition, it seems. However, this is one of my favorite parts about mealtime and food in general. Eating allows us, whether "us" is family, friends or coworkers, to come together. It allows us to talk about our day and it makes room for topics that may not have come up otherwise. Some of my best friendships have started at the table and continue to be nurtured at tables around the country. Let's continue to gather weekly and enjoy these moments with friends and family that encourage conversation and bring us closer.
I hope we can all take these basics of Thanksgiving and let them infiltrate the rest of the days, weeks, and months to come. I hope we can all take the time to gather with friends, find a little time to make our own balanced meals, and have fun with exercise, always giving thanks along the way.