Be Healthy on Thanksgiving and Other Overrated Cockamamie

Coach Izzy

I hardly believe the correspondence I’ve been receiving the past few days. I thought I made my point clear last season, more so when my readers clamored my message and welcomed it with open arms. Yet here I was, again contemplating the same questions as last year. Here were the same people, with the same inquiries, as if my answers would somehow be different this time.

How fickle long-term memory is!

Or could it be that people get so bombarded with declarations preaching the opposite that ultimately they end up confused?

Sure you have heard them. For the past couple of weeks we have been reminded how Thanksgiving is upon us, and how that marks the beginning of gluttony season. We are told how to make wise or healthful decisions at our dinner table, what cuts to select, what to avoid, how to address all those surplus calories and how to do it all guilt free.

Ugh! What a load of tripe!

For the past few days my mailbox has been flooded with people asking me –yet again- how they should be eating or exercising for Thanksgiving to avoid falling off the wagon. Thus, to save time and sanity, I am writing this article so my answers can be accessible to anyone with the same queries in their minds.

When I’m approached by those who have such questions, my answer is always the same.

“Forget about the guilt-free nonsense and enjoy the day for what it is.”

Yep, you heard me correctly. It is a problem that exists only in our beliefs and in our heads. It’s a non-issue, and our fear mongering combined with our poor understanding of fitness and health perpetuates it.

Allow me to elaborate.

If you have been disciplined about your fitness, and your lifestyle, guess what? That one day of indulgence won’t make one darn bit of a difference. No, it will not derail your efforts and your lifestyle, unless you allow it. Let’s put it this way. Think of your typical couch-potato, who indulges in trashy, processed foods every day, paying little to no attention to his health. One day, he decides to have an organic salad for one of his meals. Does that mean that he is now healthy? Absolutely not! So, why does the opposite have to be true?

Now, if you have not been paying attention to your food or fitness lifestyle, you could not have picked a worst day to get started. What would that accomplish? Who are you trying to impress? The enduring path to health and fitness is about simplifying, not complicating with self-imposed difficulties. You eat poorly all the time, yet for the festivities you decide to stick to the lean cuts, vegetables with no dressing, water, and no dessert. Seriously, why? Again, what difference does that make?

To top it all, there’s the guilt mongering, punitive approach to exercise.

Listen, and listen well.

You will NOT create a caloric deficit that will redeem you from the splurge later in the day. You will NOT burn off the excessive calories by punishing yourself with long bouts of exercise. Despite what the pundits tell you, the burning of 3500 calories to eliminate one pound of fat is a fallacy. Utter nonsense repeated by those who do not understand thermodynamics or our bodies.

I am not telling you not to exercise the day of Thanksgiving or the day after. I encourage you to do so, but do it with the understanding that exercise is a learning experience for our minds and bodies, an experience dedicated to stimulate changes, and nurture improvement. Do it because you enjoy it and you know it’s good for you, not because you embrace the fantasy that it will grant you license to binge.

Enough with bastardizing the beautiful experience of exercise as a calorie burning means. Enough with all this fear and guilt mongering! We live our lives carrying guilt where none should be. Many will self-flagellate with the erroneous thought that exercise will absolve them from their buccal sins, and for their indulgence they deserve to be punished through exercise. It does not work like that, folks.

And no, I’m not condoning intemperance. I’m simply pointing out the futility of thinking that one day out of your routine will destroy your good habits or lifestyle. If you decide to overindulge the entire weekend, and more often after that, now, that’s a whole different subject and a decision you are making. In that case, expect your results to take a tumble. The great news is that it is in your power to stop this anytime you want and resume your good lifestyle. Should you decide not do so, that’s your business and your responsibility. Don’t blame the holiday for your own weakness.

I’m also pointing out the futility of thinking you can overcome months of poor habits in the day where the odds are against you. It is commendable that you are contemplating a change in lifestyle, but don’t the mistake of making a challenging task even more difficult. It is consistency that will give you long term results, not one ego-stroking day in which you decide to show your will power and alienate yourself from the rest.

Finally, I’m pointing out the futility of maiming the essence of exercise to placate guilt as comparing calories-in and calories-out to eliminate surplus calories is nonsense bastardized science.

Enjoy the day for what it is! A day to spend with family, friends, all having a good time. Kill the guilt and the fear mongering. You have the power to resume your good habits immediately the day after, or to acquire them under more favorable circumstances.

I’ll see you on the exercise floor!

Coach Izzy

About The Author


Coach Izzy has been part of the Strength and Conditioning field for over 25 years. He speaks of the advantages of self-sufficiency and the drawbacks of relying on the liner approaches the health world seems fond of.