5 Ways To Squeeze In Some Exercise Between Courses At Thanksgiving

by Jennifer Landis

Fall foliage, cool weather and pumpkin-flavored everything signal Thanksgiving is just around the corner.

But before you get ready to break out your fat pants and accept that Thanksgiving is the season of weight gain, consider these easy tricks to keep your exercise and waistband in check through the holidays.

You can squeeze these exercises into your downtime easily. And of course, as important as exercise is, it's just as important to help yourself avoid temptation and overeating.

Here are five exercise tips to make sure you don't compromise your wellness routine during the holidays:

1. Take time to exercise and eat before the big meal.

If you are a fan of Thanksgiving food — and who isn't? — it's easy for you to overeat without even realizing it.

This is especially true if you are cooking the meal because you will likely taste things as you go, as the smell of turkey in the air makes you oh-so hungry.

Avoid this by starting the day off right. Get some exercise in before sitting down for breakfast, even if it's a quick yoga session.

This will help set the tone for the day and remind you that your healthy lifestyle isn't going to completely go out the window.

Limit the all-day grazing by sitting down and having a healthy breakfast and lunch. No matter how busy your schedule is, make time to sit down and chew your food.

By eating a healthy breakfast and lunch, the turkey aroma won't make you as hungry, and your body will recognize you've already had two meals.

2. Turn cooking time into exercise time.

You can exercise in the kitchen while you're cooking.

Try some of these exercises in the moments when you're not basting the turkey or mashing the potatoes:

1. Do sets of 20 squats after putting dishes in the dishwasher.

2. Hold a 30-second plank before every baste.

3. Knock out 10 push-ups after you finish peeling any vegetables.

Bonus tip: Don't undo your efforts. Once it's time for digging into all the delicious foods, be mindful. Use a smaller plate so you aren't tempted to fill it full and overeat. A smaller plate will trick you into eating smaller portions because it holds less food.

Keep in mind, the smaller plate only helps if you don't go back for extra servings. Moderation is key. You only need one plate of food to meet your nutritional and caloric needs.

Speaking of moderation, when you hit the dessert table, don't eat ALL the pies. Choose your favorite-absolutely-cannot-live-without-it single dessert for today, and enjoy it slowly with some coffee or tea and allow yourself another dessert tomorrow.

If you must indulge, make a deal with yourself that for each extra serving, you will exercise 30 minutes in the days to come.

3. Make exercise a family affair.

Instead of trying to keep your exercise routine alone over the holidays, make it something the family participates in.

Before it's time to put the turkey in the oven or while it's cooking, gather the family for a walk or run around the neighborhood. You could even make it a race if you are feeling competitive, and make the incentive something like the winner gets to skip cleanup duty.

You might be surprised by how fast some people move.

4. Be realistic.

Don't think you can get in enough exercise in one day to “cancel out” your Thanksgiving feast? That is unrealistic and will only lead to stress and disappointment.

Once you realize how many calories are in a serving of your favorite Thanksgiving foods, you will understand.

Instead of trying to do enough exercise to make up for what you'd like to eat, just make sure you get some exercise every day and don't use Thanksgiving as an excuse to skip your regular activity.

5. Make it fun and easy.

Almost 40 percent of American workers clock in at least 50 hours of work each week. It's no wonder that once you get a holiday, all you want to do is lounge on the couch.

Who wants to get up and exercise on that rare day off, anyway?

That's understandable, and no one can blame you for wanting a little rest and relaxation. Instead of looking at it as exercising, look at it as fun. Find an activity you enjoy doing, and use that for your exercise.

The idea is, you keep physically active over the holidays so you don't fall off the wagon and gain weight.

Turn on some music and have a dance party in your house while dinner is in the oven. Try to keep up with all of the performers during the Macy's Parade.

Think outside of the box and consider things you love to do so you stay physically active without feeling the chore of exercise.

Thanksgiving doesn't have to be an excuse for overindulging and being lazy. You can still enjoy your favorite holiday foods and stick with your healthy lifestyle. You just have to know how to make it work.

These tips make exercise and healthy eating much more attainable and realistic. Which ones will you incorporate this holiday season?