Does the image above remind you of your childhood at Thanksgiving waiting for made-from-scratch buttery rolls, melt-in-your-mouth dressing, and decadent sweet treats? Whatever you are worried might break your willpower over the holiday break, never fear! This issue is dedicated to practical ways to maintain your course to a more satisfying lifestyle without feeling like it’s a sacrifice.
In This Issue
- Article of the Month
- Recipe of the Month
- You’re Invited!
Article of the Month
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Does Yummy Healthy Eating Exist?
As Thanksgiving approaches, people around the U.S. are planning their celebrations with family and friends. This year, some will connect virtually with their loved ones while others are looking forward to an in-person visit. But, one thing they all have in common is their excitement over the Thanksgiving feast!
If your family is like mine, we enjoyed an especially comforting yet majorly caloric meal each year that could make your mouth water the other 364 days just thinking about it! Then, you topped that off with warm memories of being with your closest friends and family members as you watched the game on television along with the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade from a seated or possibly horizontal-at-times position on the couch. With so much soothing goodness telling our brains to associate heavy starchy meals with cherished family memories, it’s no wonder this is a tough time of year to embrace a more positive change in our diet and exercise routines.
You CAN Eat Comfort Foods Without Guilt
While being healthy does mean cutting out many of the traditional ingredients our bodies do not use, we can still enjoy some of our top holiday favorites. This is all thanks to the creativity of culinary gurus who have found great-tasting substitute ingredients and posted their deliciously fresh recipes online for us all to try. Simply Google a few of your childhood dishes like sweet potato casserole or mashed potatoes and add words like “healthy”, “Keto”, “Paleo”, “Mediterranean”, or “skinny” to the keyword search for a variation that is sure to be a crowd-pleaser!
Give Your Healthy Dish Another Name
Once you have found a recipe you love taste-wise, it helps to make it a couple of times in order to work out the tweaks needed to suit your personal preferences. Next, you may want to consider changing the name of the dish when you announce what it is to your loved ones. This way, the brain is not expecting a specific flavor, smell, image, or texture. After all, a meal centered on the idea of being appreciative of the good things in life is the perfect opportunity to check out something new and still oh so fabulous!
Make Gratitude and Family Bonding the Focus
Another way to stick to your healthy habits is to remember the meal is only one part of the celebration. Eating healthier and lighter means having more energy to engage in richer conversations or start up a game of flag football or other family activity that requires large muscle movement. In other words, there are more options for bond-building moments than those spent lethargically planted in front of the television. Use these times and your new dishes to distract your mind from wanting a second helping or diving into that pecan pie. Soon, you’ll find you are more excited about what fun games and adventures await over Thanksgiving with your friends and family than the dishes served during the meal itself.
What if I Cheat on My Diet?
Still uncertain you can maintain your positive lifestyle over the holidays? Although it may feel like it after eating well and adopting an active regimen, one cheat day here and there is not going to set you back too much. So, instead of beating yourself up over the extra calories, you can live in the moment for the day and jump back into your wellness plan the next morning.
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Three Workouts That’ll Burn Off Thanksgiving Dinner
by Lisa Kenilworth on Spartan
During the holidays, people count their blessings but forget to count their calories. The average Thanksgiving meal hits its high note of a whopping 3,000 to 4,500 calories. So… let’s just say it’s a holiday you don’t want to take a rest day. Be ready with your Thanksgiving workout.
“Most people have breakfast then snacks and appetizers and maybe some drinks before sitting down to Thanksgiving,” says Anne L’Heureux, R.D., Spartan SGX trainer, and Elite Spartan Racer. “The Thanksgiving meal is usually well-rounded with protein, vegetables, and starch, but then you add alcohol, second helpings, dessert, more alcohol—these extras are what really contribute to the excess calorie creep.”
Instead of telling you how many miles you’d have to run or (35+) or how many hours of yoga you’d have to do (about 17) to burn off that dinner, play it smart: First, trim the fat from your Thanksgiving meal using these tips from L’Heureux, and then do these three workouts which burn between 500 and 1000 calories each, depending on your intensity, weight used, and athletic capacity, and remain pudge-free following the feast.
“I also recommend putting extra focus on eating healthy beforehand,” adds L’Heureux. “Eat as healthily as possible right up to the meal itself, and get right back to it once the meal is over.” In addition, avoid these holiday foods at all costs.
Bonus: These tips and workouts aren’t just great for Thanksgiving. They’re the perfect antidote for any big event where you’ll be tempted to indulge.
5 Ways to Trim the Fat from Your Feast
- Skip the heavy appetizers. Why fill up on cheese and crackers when there is a nice home-cooked meal to enjoy?
- Pass the rolls. This means less processed flour and less butter.
- Reduce or eliminate your portions of gravy, cranberry sauce, and butter—the calories add up quickly. Also, opt out of whipped cream or ice cream with your pie to save calories and fat.
- Choose white turkey meat over dark. White breast meat has fewer calories per ounce because it is the least fatty part of the bird. And whatever you do, skip the high-fat skin.
- Choose plain veggies or salad over creamed spinach, candied yams, or green bean casserole. Heavy cream sauces and marshmallow toppings always mean high-calorie.
Turkey Day Training Triplet
Maintaining a consistent workout schedule even during the holidays is key to keeping your weight in check. Map out a program that includes the week leading up to Thanksgiving (or Christmas or Super Bowl) and several days following, and incorporate these three high-intensity workouts to get the burn on—and keep it on.
“High-intensity training will burn a large volume of calories in a small period of time,” advises L’Heureux. Then of course there is the afterburn effect of a metabolic conditioning session in which your body burns additional calories as it works to repair and replenish itself over the next 48 to 72 hours.
The calories you burn during the workout itself have everything to do with effort: The more intensely you train, the more calories you will burn both during and afterward, so aim for between 80 and 95 percent your maximum heart rate. This will also maximize your time during the chaos of the season.
Also, try to get your friends and family involved and pay your fitness forward: Take a post-meal walk, go for a hike if the weather cooperates, or challenge them to the Fat-Burning Face-Off against you and a partner (Workout C below).
Workout A: Round and Round Repeat: 5 Rounds
This Thanksgiving workout burns approximately 100 calories per round. Do it five times through and you’ll blast away 500 calories.
- 50x Jumping Jacks – Stand with your feet together and arms at your sides, knees soft. Jump your feet apart and raise your arms overhead, then jump them back in again.
- 40x Butterfly Crunches – Lie face up with the soles of your shoes together and allow your knees to fall open. Lie back with either an Ab Mat or a folded hand towel underneath the small of your back for support, fingers reaching toward your feet. Curl your head, neck and shoulders off the floor, sitting up all the way up and reaching your hands to touch the floor in front of your shoes. Curl back down slowly and repeat right away.
- 30x Air Squats – Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, legs and feet turned out slightly, arms at your sides. Push your glutes back and bend your knees, simultaneously lifting your arms in front of you as a counterbalance. When you hit parallel or below, drive through your heels and stand to the start.
- 20x Pushups – Place your hands shoulder-width apart on the floor and extend your feet behind you, head, hips and heels aligned, and head and spine neutral. Bend your elbows and lower your body toward the floor until your chest nearly touches, the forcefully press back to the start.
- 10x Jump Squats – Stand with your feet hip-width apart, arms at your sides. Quickly squat down and swing your arms back, then explode upward as high as you can, reaching your arms overhead to gain height. Land softly, reset and repeat.
Workout B: Burning Bear Repeat: 5 Rounds (7 Sets = 1 Round)
Barbell complexes are one of the most challenging workouts you can do, combining cardiovascular conditioning with intense strength training—and the Bear Complex is categorically the most notorious. This makes it a good Thanksgiving workout.
Load a single barbell with a moderate to heavy weight, then without putting the barbell down, do one rep of each of the moves seven total sets—that’s 35 reps nonstop. Repeat that for five rounds, resting briefly when you must. Really want to burn off those biscuits? Aim to complete all 175 reps unbroken (we dare you).
Repeat the below sequence 7 times through to complete one round. Do five total rounds. These moves should flow seamlessly, one into the next.
- 1x Power Clean – Stand behind a loaded barbell and take a shoulder-width overhand hook grip on the bar. Drop your hips, lift your chest and look forward. Powerfully extend your knees and hips to pull the bar up in a straight line from the floor along the front of your body. When it comes to your hips, rise up onto your toes, shrug your shoulders, then catch the bar across your front delts and upper chest, flipping your elbows underneath.
- 1x Front Squat – From there, keep your elbows and chest lifted and your weight in your heels as you bend your knees and hips and lower into a deep squat. Drive powerfully up out of the hole to the start.
- 1x Push-Press – Now bend your knees and hips slightly while keeping your heels on the floor, then extend them quickly and use that momentum to press the bar straight up overhead to full extension. Lower it behind your head to rest across your upper back and traps.
- 1x Back Squat – Next, kick your hips back and bend your knees to lower into a deep squat, then drive through your heels to return to standing.
- 1x Push-Press – Bend your knees and hips to load up, then extend them powerfully to press the bar from your back-rack position up overhead. Lower it to the front rack position, then back down to the back to the floor. Repeat right away without putting the barbell down.
Note: You can blend the squats and push-presses together to make a thruster. It saves time, but it’s much more taxing than pausing briefly between each move.
Workout C: Fat-Burning Face-Off Repeat: 4 Rounds
Pair up with someone of comparable ability, and square off against another couple at your gym or box. Decide how you want to split up the reps—5s, 15s, all 30 at once—then start the clock. While one partner works the other rests. For instance, Partner A does 10 wall balls, Partner B rests. Then Partner B does 10 while Partner A rests, and so on until all 30 reps are complete. Then you move to the pullups. Complete a total of four rounds and earn your bragging rights.
Perform four rounds:
- 30x Wall Balls (20/14#) – Hold a medicine ball at your chest with both hands, elbows down. Face a wall and stand about a foot away with your feet shoulder-width apart, legs and feet turned out slightly. Keep your weight in your heels as you squat down, then explode upward and throw the medicine ball to hit a target above you—such as an 8- to 10-foot mark. Catch it as it descends and drop right into your next rep.
- 30x Pullups – Take a wide overhand grip on a pull-up bar and hang underneath with your legs together. Pull your shoulder blades together, then drive your elbows down and back to bring your chest up to the bar. Lower slowly and go right into the next rep. These can be done kipping, if that skill is in your wheelhouse.
- 30x Hand-Release Pushups – Place your hands shoulder-width apart on the floor and extend your feet behind you so your head, hips and heels align. Bend your elbows and lower your body all the way down to the floor. Pick up your hands briefly, replace then and press forcefully up to the start.
- 30x Hang Power Cleans – Hold a loaded barbell in front of your thighs with an overhand shoulder-width hook grip, and stand with your feet about hip-width apart. Press your glutes back and slide the bar down along your thighs until it comes just above the knee, back straight, head neutral. Quickly straighten your knees and press your hips forward to pull the bar up along the front of your body. When the bar comes to hip level, rise up onto your toes, shrug your shoulders then catch the bar across your front delts and upper chest, flipping your elbows underneath.
- 30x Shoulder-to-Overhead – Hold the bar in the front rack position and stand with your feet hip-width apart. Bend your knees and hips to load your posterior chain, the quickly extend them, using that momentum to press the barbell overhead to full extension. Lower slowly and repeat right away.
Note: This can be any manner of overhead press—strict press, push-press, push-jerk—so long as it goes from the racked position to an overhead position.
- 300-Meter Row – Sit on the rower and take an overhand grip on the handle, back straight. Extend your knees and hips explosively and as you come to full extension, pull the handle in toward your abdomen by driving your elbows back. Next, extend your arms and then bend your knees and hips to slide the seat forward and repeat right away.
This workout courtesy of David Plumey, owner of Shoreline Athletics in Branford, Connecticut
9 Tips for a Healthy Thanksgiving by Medical West Hospital
Thanksgiving only comes around once a year, so why not go ahead and splurge? Because gaining weight during the holiday season is a national pastime. Year after year, most of us pack on at least a pound (some gain more) during the holidays — and keep the extra weight permanently.
But Thanksgiving does not have to sabotage your weight, experts say. With a little know-how, you can satisfy your desire for traditional favorites and still enjoy a guilt-free Thanksgiving feast. After all, being stuffed is a good idea only if you are a turkey!
1. Get Active
Create a calorie deficit by exercising to burn off extra calories before you ever indulge in your favorite foods. Eat less and exercise more is the winning formula to prevent weight gain during the holidays. Increase your steps or lengthen your fitness routine the weeks ahead and especially the day of the feast.
Make fitness a family adventure. Take a walk early in the day and then again after dinner. It is a wonderful way for families to get physical activity and enjoy the holiday together.
2. Eat Breakfast
While you might think it makes sense to save up calories for the big meal, experts say eating a small meal in the morning can give you more control over your appetite. Start your day with a small but satisfying breakfast — such as an egg with a slice of whole-wheat toast, or a bowl of whole-grain cereal with low-fat milk — so you won’t be starving when you arrive at the gathering.
Eating a nutritious meal with protein and fiber before you arrive takes the edge off your appetite and allows you to be more discriminating in your food and beverage choices.
3. Lighten Up
Whether you are hosting Thanksgiving dinner or bringing a few dishes to share, make your recipes healthier with less fat, sugar, and calories. There is more sugar and fat in most recipes than is needed, and no one will notice the difference if you skim calories by using lower-calorie ingredients.
Try using fat-free chicken broth to baste the turkey and make gravy. Use sugar substitutes in place of sugar and/or fruit purees instead of oil in baked goods. You can also try plain yogurt or fat-free sour cream in creamy dips, mashed potatoes, and casseroles.
4. Police Your Portions
Thanksgiving tables are bountiful and beautiful displays of traditional family favorites. Before you fill your plate, survey the buffet table and decide what you’re going to choose. Then select reasonable-sized portions of foods you cannot live without.
Don’t waste your calories on foods that you can have all year long. Fill your plate with small portions of holiday favorites that only come around once a year so you can enjoy desirable, traditional foods.
5. Skip the Seconds
Try to resist the temptation to go back for second helpings. Leftovers are much better the next day, and if you limit yourself to one plate, you are less likely to overeat and have more room for a delectable dessert. Choose the best bets on the buffet. While each of us has our own favorites, keep in mind that some holiday foods are better choices than others.
White turkey meat, plain vegetables, roasted sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, thin gravy, and pumpkin pie tend to be the best bets because they are lower in fat and calories. However, if you keep your portions small, you can enjoy whatever you like.
6. Slowly Savor
Eating slowly, putting your fork down between bites, and tasting each mouthful is one of the easiest ways to enjoy your meal and feel satisfied with one plate full of food, experts say. Choosing whole grains, fruits, vegetables, broth-based soups, salads, and other foods with lots of water and fiber add to the feeling of fullness.
7. Go Easy on Alcohol
Don’t forget those alcohol calories that can add up quickly. Have a glass of wine or a wine spritzer and between alcoholic drinks, enjoy sparkling water. This way you stay hydrated, limit alcohol calories, and stay sober.
8. Be Realistic
The holiday season is a time for celebration. With busy schedules and so many extra temptations, this is a good time to strive for weight maintenance instead of weight loss.
This way, at the start of the new year you will be ahead of the game if you can avoid gaining any weight over the holidays.
9. Focus on Family and Friends
Thanksgiving is not just about the delicious bounty of food. It’s a time to celebrate relationships with family and friends. The main event should be family and friends socializing, spending quality time together, not just what is on the buffet.
For more information on healthy eating and a healthier lifestyle, please contact a Medical West Dietician at 481-7934.
Recipe of the Month
Prep Time = 5 Min
Cook Time = 25 Min
Total Time = 30 Min
Yield – Serves 12 Standard Cupcakes (Serving Size = 1 Cupcake)
Posted on My Whole Foods Life by Melissa King
For the Cupcakes:
1 can pumpkin or 1 1/2 cups pumpkin puree
2 very ripe bananas
1/2 cup coconut sugar
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp sea salt
For the Whip Topping:
1 can full-fat coconut milk
2 T maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla beans
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- In a food processor, combine all the cupcake ingredients and blend until smooth. (You may need to scrape down the sides a few times.)
- Spoon the mixture into lined muffin pans. (I used silicone liners for mine. They don’t stick like paper liners can.)
- Bake for 20-25 minutes.
- Let these cool completely before removing from the muffin liners.
Note: Since they are soft like pumpkin pie, I highly recommend putting these in the fridge after baking. It should firm them up more.
Whip Topping Directions
- Open up your can of coconut milk that has been in the fridge overnight.
- Scoop the fatty white part off and place in a mixing bowl with the vanilla and maple syrup.
- Use the whipping attachment and whip the coconut into a cream.
- Scoop a little on top of each muffin. Enjoy!
Keep these stored in the fridge. I highly recommend making the whip topping right before eating for optimal results in taste and texture. Enjoy!
The texture/taste may vary based on the pumpkin puree and ripeness of the banana. These have more of a pumpkin pie texture than a cupcake texture.
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