Surviving Thanksgiving Dinner

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Okay, so since I had the crazy idea to finally recommit to losing weight on Thanksgiving week of all weeks, I have to have a plan, right?  Especially considering that we’ll be eating Thanksgiving dinner at three different places this week and I’ll be going shopping with my mom and sister the day after (which means eating out).

So, what’s my plan?

Well, several years ago, I did Weight Watchers for the first time.  I actually did well that time, too, until I hit a plateau.  I’d lost, like, 35 pounds in 3 or 4 months.  Anyway, I actually lost weight the week of Thanksgiving — I didn’t lose much, but I didn’t gain.  My main strategy was only eating my favorite things.  I didn’t even go for the things that might be healthier — like green beans, for example.  I chose to eat — in moderation — the things that I typically only get at Thanksgiving dinners: my mother-in-law’s delicious stuffing, my broccoli casserole and sweet potato casserole, my aunt’s squash casserole.

When it came to desserts, I did the same thing; I only chose my favorite — one slice of cheese cake.  I split that, right down the middle, with my mom because, really, an eighth of a slice of cheese cake is plenty.

As for the shopping day, we typically eat a big breakfast at either IHOP or Waffle House.  (Yeah, we’re fancy folks, I know…but yum!)  I decided at the beginning of my first Weight Watchers journey that every week I’d let myself have a “cheat day.”  I’m pretty sure they even do that on Biggest Loser, although they don’t advertise that fact.  I’ve caught a couple of mentions of it from time to time.

(You know, I’ve just decided that I don’t like the term “cheat” day.  It goes back to that whole psychology of “good” food and “bad” food, as well as implying that I’m on a diet.  I don’t want to be on a diet.  Diets are temporary.  I want to learn lifestyle changes that I can live with for the rest of my life.  How about an “indulgence” day instead, in which one might indulge in things enjoyed in moderation?)

So, anyway, when I was doing WW, I’d use a good portion of my flex points on Saturday mornings, after weigh-in, when my mom, my sister and I would go to brunch.  I decided to apply the same principal to our Black Friday brunch, figuring that surely some of the extra calories would be off-set by the fact that we’d be walking all day.  This year, I might even check out IHOP’s healthier menu items.

That’s my plan for this year, too — a little common sense, a little grace for the journey 

Do you have any tips that you’ve successfully used to keep from losing weight-loss ground while still enjoying the holidays?

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  1. My indulgence day(love the name!) is the day of Thanksgiving. I will not even count points that day because it is a holiday, I will just eat until I am full, and stop. I will be sure to exercise first thing that morning, and drink water all day too. Then as of Friday I am right back on my weight watchers points, with an extra long exercise session walking those Black Friday Sales!

    Because I am cooking this year I will be giving away food like the pies, freezing things that freeze well, and making healthy meals with the leftovers (like soup with the turkey!).

    Another thing I do is try to use fat free or low fat ingredients in things for the holidays. For ex, the green bean casserole will have green beans and fat free cream of mushroom soup. The mashed potatoes can be made with fat free sour cream and then most of the butter can be left out – still yummmy. The turkey is healthy, the corn is too. The stuffing I'll make for my hubby, but I prefer the rolls. Rolls are my favorite, and I will eat them mostly without butter (there is gravy – who needs butter?).

    Oh, and while I would love to make 6 or 8 desserts, we will limit it to two this year so there is less to choose from.

    Also wanted to mention I am planning a Weight Watchers Christmas meal this year, including desserts. I'll try to post that early in December if anyone is interested.

  2. Here is my game plan for tomorrow … at our WW meeting last week the Leader passed out paper plates to all of us. On the board she had written all the popular Thanksgiving items with points values. On each plate everyone wrote out what they were going to eat and the points. Our leader pointed out it was not about denying ourselves items on the Thanksgiving menu but, being accountable for them. I have my plan on the refrigerator. Also, I am going to drink lots of water starting tomorrow morning – try to keep my stomach more full. I know the points value and have decided to use all of my flex points to the meal.

    My husband and I will also be heading out on Black Friday and enjoying breakfast somewhere. I will just take the hit on the scale for that. My normal weigh in day is Friday and I will instead weigh in on Saturday morning.

    I am hoping that working out 4 times this week will help offset everything. My goal this week is just not to gain. I peeked at my scale this morning and I am down a pound. We will see if that holds until weigh in, not likely. 😉

  3. What's helped me in the past (and would have continued to help me had I continued to do it) is to offset indulgences with additional exercise.

    After I had my oldest daughter I managed to continue to lose weight and was at one of my healthiest times.

    I would eat something indulgent daily, but then offset it with additional walking.

    So…if you eat 300 calories of chocolate – then you walk off 300 calories.

    The other thing I did then that worked well was insist that I had my 5 servings of fruits and veggies before I ate any empty calories. If I didn't get in my healthy foods I didn't eat any empty calorie foods.

    What I found is that my body stopped craving the empty calorie foods when I was feeding it the healthy foods.

  4. @ Alicia — I peeked at the scale today, too. I was really going to try to weigh only once a week and not peek in between, but I really wanted to take a peek before Thanksgiving, so that I didn't get discouraged after Thanksgiving if all my hard work wasn't reflected.

    I've lost two pounds!!!

    I was really excited, though not especially surprised — I figured I could see something like that pretty quick if I just cut out the half gallon of tea every day. So, I hope when I weigh "officially" on Monday, I see at least two pounds gone.

    @ Kari — That's a good rule of thumb: work off whatever you indulge in. I'd guess that it probably encourages you to indulge in less, too. 😉

    @ Tristan — Yes! I would love to see your healthier, lower-fat dessert ideas! Maybe I could set up a MckLinky soon and we could all share our ideas for healthier desserts. I'm responsible for desserts at our weekly family diner at my sister's house, so I could use lots of ideas.

  5. We won't be doing anything to big this year, it'll just be the 4 of us in our immediate family. That said, there will still be the fairly full Thanksgiving spread.

    I don't do WW (nothing against them and have done it in the past, just haven't for a while), but I do count calories on "the daily plate" (when I remember). I like the idea someone posted about the paper plate. I think I will draw what a normal portion size looks like and then the calories within it. Then I will have a visual reminder of how much to eat.

    I'll relook into ww online and see what they have there as well, might be a good idea 🙂

  6. I am looking more toward the not over eating aspect. That is my problem. I just don't know when the heck to stop because it is all sooooooo good!! My plan is on trip through. Eat small portions of everything i want, but don't go back for seconds. Also, i am going to limit the desserts. That shouldn't be too hard. I will also be opting for water or lemonade to drink instead of tea and cokes.

  7. I think that you've got a good plan. What Kari said about exercise is really good advice. Hope you have a great Thanksgiving!
    Congrats on the 2 lbs!

  8. I was so proud of myself 🙂 I only took one serving of everything I wanted and that was it. I did not go back for seconds and I did not eat the boys food 🙂

  9. I'm finally getting to reading through your blog! I'm working on losing 40-50 pounds, and I do not have time to start another blog… But I am rallying a few supporters so we can encourage each other.

    This indulgence day for me is Sundays – we have a church potluck every Sunday, and I just eat a few things in moderation. I'll mostly skip dessert, but Sunday is my dieting and exercise day of rest. 😉

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