Here in the U.S., we’re getting ready to celebrate my favorite holiday…Thanksgiving.

I love to cook…more than that – I love to eat, so it’s no surprise that the holiday that’s inextricably linked with the most beautiful meal of the year would rank highest for me.

It doesn’t hurt that my family’s Thanksgiving feast is no joke. Every year we each bring a dish (or two) and we marvel at our huge selection of delicious casseroles, whipped potatoes, glazed veggies and decadent desserts. We eat until we wish we wore elastic waistbands and then joke that the only thing that could make this meal better was if it were calorie free.

Thanksgiving Spread Vicki Marquez

So many of us struggle with balancing healthy and the holidays, and I’m constantly asked how I manage to make it through the holiday season without stressing and without gaining weight.

And while my “secret” might surprise you, it’s the ONE thing that – year after year – allows me to stay healthy while fully enjoying the festivities.

So, here it is…

I eat whatever I want (and as much as I want) without allowing myself to feel guilty about it!

Greatest health tip ever, right? 🙂 But, it’s true! I know that one meal won’t make or break me…and if there’s one meal to “splurge” on, it’s this one! I like to think of it as the 80/20 rule. Eighty percent of the time, I keep my diet super healthy so that twenty percent of the time I can get a little crazy!

Giving myself complete freedom to indulge on Thanksgiving automatically takes the pressure off the meal and the day. It gets me out of my head and into the moment so that I can focus on all of the joy that this holiday brings me.

thanksgivingspread

BUT in order for this strategy to really work, I also do these six very important things:
  1. Fill Up On Gratitude. I love that the heart and soul of Thanksgiving is gratitude. Gratitude is an instant mood-booster and something that I practice daily. When you stop and look, you’ll find that there’s always so much to be grateful for, whether it’s the air you breathe or the incredible gift of gathering around the table and spending time with your loved ones. Deeply appreciating what you have in your life turns what you have into more than enough, and that focus puts you in a healthy, happy frame of mind.
  1. Eat Breakfast…and Lunch. Holiday or not, I never arrive to dinner on a completely empty stomach. Sure, it can be tempting to skip morning meals, “save your appetite” (and those calories) and then show up ravenous for the feast, but this only leads to overeating in a major way. When you start your day with a healthy, nourishing breakfast and lunch – even if it’s just a green juice or smoothie – you’ll be a lot less likely to over do it at dinner.
  1. Exercise Early. Getting in some type of pre-festivity fitness is always a must for me. An early workout sets the tone for my day and it makes me feel a lot less guilty about stuffing myself with stuffing. You don’t need to spend an hour at the gym, just a quick twenty-minute jog, at-home circuit workout or simple yoga DVD can jump-start your metabolism, burn extra calories and make you feel amazing all day long!
  1. I Don’t Eat What I Don’t Love. I used to eat things – like fruitcake – that I didn’t like, just because it was a holiday tradition. Crazy right? But the truth is that sometimes we eat out of habit and we don’t even realize what we’re noshing on. Your meal should be enjoyed and your calories should come from the foods that make you swoon. Be mindful when you’re filling your plate, choose only what you love, leave the rest, then eat slowly and savor every bite.
  1. Balance The Bubbly With Water. Fun holiday cocktails contribute to the merriment of the season, but they can also contribute to extra pounds and not-so-happy holiday hangovers. To keep a healthy balance, I always alternate between an alcoholic beverage and a zero-calorie sparkling water. This keeps things festive, but it also keeps me hydrated and it reduces the amount of empty calories I’m consuming. Even if your bubbly comes from a soda can, alternating each drink with water is a great way to cut your liquid calories in half.
  1. Walk it off. After dinner, throw on some extra layers and invite a few family members to join you for a brisk evening walk. My husband and I always do this and as soon as we step outside, the crisp fresh air instantaneously makes us feel light and refreshed. Plus, it’s a great way to reconnect, reflect on the day and simultaneously burn off a few extra holiday calories.
So, that’s my secret strategy. It’s super simple, easy to follow and best of all you can apply it to any and every holiday!

If you struggle to balance your health goals with the holiday season, I hope you’ll give this a try and as always, let me know how it works for you.

Conversation sparks inspiration so feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments below.

Wishing you and your loved ones a happy and healthy Thanksgiving!

With all my love,

xo

Vicki