My family has held Thanksgiving at our house since as long as I can remember. My brothers and I had to spend what felt like 10 days cleaning the house and our parents bossed us around the day of (it's an exaggeration, mom!) preparing for our family and friends to come over for the big get-together. Thanksgiving became my favorite holiday because 1) everyone was together and 2) we enjoyed food... together.
When I started becoming obsessive about my body, eating habits, and fitness around the age of 17, Thanksgiving became the most dreaded day of the year for me. I was in a horrible relationship with food (and myself). I regularly bought into fat burners and detox teas, I would take note of how many calories were in a protein bar-- and spend my time running on the treadmill until that said # of calories was "burned" according to the machines counting, I would save different skinny body types and restrictive meals to my Pinterest boards, and I regularly attempted to not eat for extended periods of time (which of course, lead to uncontrollable binges).
So yeah... That holiday that was surrounded by amazing food? It was no longer enjoyed because all I thought about was perfection.
"I must eat a big breakfast if I want to be able to control myself later", I thought.
"I must eat on small plates so I can keep my portions smaller", I thought.
"I must make a healthy dish so I can avoid opting for the 'unhealthy' foods", I thought.
"I must chew my bites 25 times each so I can feel less hungry", I thought.
"I must get up early and do a ton of cardio so I can earn those calories", I thought.
"I must order this detox so I can get rid of the bloat and help my digestive system", I thought.
When I logged onto Instagram this week (mind you, I don't typically follow anyone except nutrition/fitness/health/yoga accounts) and saw frequent posts on "Tips on How to Eat on Thanksgiving"...
I felt a rush of anger.
I felt a lump in my throat of sadness.
I felt confused.
How could we get this wrong? How could we promote controlled eating to the general public on the one day of the year where we are surrounded by food? How are we promoting products and pushing food rules on a holiday?
Sure, if you have a bikini competition coming up or a set goal date in mind for fat loss that is extremely close to the holiday date, and you've been working 1-1 with a coach who has your goals in their best interest, you may focus on portion control and mindful eating habits. But as far as the rest of us who want to live our best life... looking our best-- but above all-- FEELING our best... Food rules have no business raining on our Thanksgiving Day parade.
Should you watch what you eat?
Should you feel obligated to workout prior to festivities?
Should you portion control?
Should you eat certain foods and avoid others?
My answer to all of these: no.
Thanksgiving is the one day of the year where we join our family/friends to dine together and bond over food. We should spend this day clocked out of shoulds and shouldn'ts when it comes to food and fitness. Instead, we should clock into our bodies and do what feels best for each of us.
If you feel your best getting a workout in or a yoga session the day of Thanksgiving (or any holiday, for that matter), that is awesome. Go break a sweat and FEEL great. But we don't approve of punishment sessions over here. If you feel your best waking up later and enjoying a cup of coffee doing a whole lotta' nothin' for the day, that is awesome. Chill out and hang out in an enjoyable, self-loving way. Make a cup of hot tea, watch a holiday movie, read a book, journal, do something that feels great because YOU feel that way. If you feel your best eating a normal breakfast and lunch prior to your dinner feast, that is awesome. Keep on keeping on how you normally do. If you feel your best keeping it light, saving your appetite for the evening, again... That's great and I can't wait for you to enjoy yourself.
Tune into your body.
What does it crave?
When does it feel best?
In this moment... What can you give yourself to feel your best?
You don't need permission to enjoy yourself.
You don't need permission to eat how you would like to.
You don't need a detox.
You don't need to barely eat the following day.
You don't need to exercise to 'burn' anything off.
I want you to be you. I want you to say "yeah, fuck you Instagram, I CAN enjoy myself and I don't need to feel bad about that".
Our clients, no matter what their goals, are advised to take the day away from tracking their food, away from focusing on portions, and way away from feeling obligated to have a food and fitness controlled day. Our clients are advised to love themselves truly + fully. To some of our clients, that means they grab a family member and start the day working out. To some of our clients, that means curling up with their kids hanging out watching TV. To some of our clients, that means they fast in the morning. To some of our clients that means they eat their same favorite breakfast as they would any other day. To some of our clients, that means they still avoid gluten and dairy because they deal with digestive and skin irritations that don't make them feel their best if they have it. To some of our clients, that means that they indulge in all the things that they don't normally have.
Above all remember this: Food rules and food freedom should be kept separate.
We hope you all spend Thanksgiving enjoying yourselves. If you find that the next day you have feelings of guilt, desires to exercise out of a place of self-hate, feeling like a detox program/meal replacement shakes/fat burners are the answer, I will be holding free consult calls and emails for the entire week from 11/23-12/1.