Do’s and Don’ts When Preparing for a Holiday Feast

It’s almost T-Day, y’all!

weekend

I know it’s not Monday, but I still thought this was good.

This year I’m flying solo like a festively roasted bird. And honestly, I have procrastinated in making any plans for the big day! I may crash a friendsgiving, or I may go on a long and crave-worthy hike (weather/smoke permitting!) and catch up on “The Christmas Prince” with some Indian take-out. Then my folks are coming down over Black Friday so we can hang out and prep for Buttercup’s fourth (Fourth!!) birthday party. How did you get so big? Stop getting so big.

But I know not everyone can be so lucky  as to enjoy take-out and watch cheesy Netflix rom-coms on Thursday. So if you’re stuck with a big houseful of people and have some apprehension for the ritual of sitting with others to stuff your face, never fear! I’ve put together a little “do’s and don’ts” list for your gratitude feast.

DO: Make time for a little movement before the party

If you’re feeling stressed about the day (especially if you’re the host that’s cooking the thing! I’ve been there, and I feel ya), almost literally all the research shows* that 30 minutes of movement can improve your mood and energy. So before you roll up your sleeves and shove your arm up that bird carcass, put on your shoes and go for a walk around the block, fire up a quick Aaptiv class (<– affiliate link!), or have a pillow fight with your kids. Exercises gives you endorphins, and endorphins make you happy. And you know what they say about happy people.

endorphins

DON’T: Exercises to try to “Earn It” or “Pre-Burn” the calories

I know, I said that you should move around before the party starts, and I’m not trying to be confusing. There’s a difference between exercising because it makes you feel good and keeps you healthy, and exercising to punish yourself or to be deserving of indulging in food later. Now, I totally used to be one of those people who would go for a run the morning of Thanksgiving to give myself some caloric wiggle room for the day. And my whole evening the mental chatter would include, “Did I run long enough to eat this? Or this? Oh shoot, I forgot to include the calories in the wine!” Instead of relaxing and enjoying the experience of enjoying a good meal in good company, I was mentally calculating and planning a gym visit in the moring to cover for all the extra indulging I did. Total holiday spirit, amirite? So give yourself a pass and some grace this time around.

DO: Enjoy any and all dishes and “worth it” treats that make you feel festive and happy

Unless you have an allergy or aversion to something that’s really going to mess with you, it’s perfectly okay to unabashedly enjoy whatever you want during a celebration. All the stuffing? You do you. Both pumpkin AND apple pie? It’s like we’re meant to be. Starting with a salad and saving the indulgences for after you get in your veggies? A brilliant and strategically sound move. Allow yourself to relax and enjoy what you want, be that the marshmallows off the sweet potato casserole or the roasted brussel sprouts. You do not need to apologize or feel bad about yourself for making choices that feel right for you and doing what you love!

food

DON’T: Feel pressured to eat something you don’t really want

One year, after dinner I was feeling quite satisfied and decided to forego dessert. I received some mild pressure and questioning from my family about not having a slice of pie in front of me. “No, thank you” I responded to the offer, sipping my coffee and enjoying the cozy post-dinner downtime. Folks, we are all adults here and are perfectly capable of making our own choices. If you know the stuffing is going to mess you up, you’ve never been a fan of mashed potatoes, or you don’t want to be uncomfortably full but they’re passing pie around, you can say no. It’s totally up to you.

DO: Take time to participate in or start a holiday tradition that’s not about the food

Yes, we are free to eat, drink and be merry. But let’s be honest, there can be a lot of time where we sit around and stare at each other, mindlessly muching. So after the meal, plan an activity to get everyone away from the table and spending some non-food time together. In my family, we are huge cribbage and jigsaw puzzle players. Or go for a neighborhood walk, play charades, or break out some crafty goodness projects. The best memories are the ones created from shared experiences.

DON’T: Comment on people’s diets, what’s on their plate, or what they’ve eaten/didn’t eat

Otherwise known as the “keep your eyes on your own plate” rule. This should be more general knowledge, but we work with what we have in this life. No one likes to sit down to a meal only to be told what we’re eating is wrong or unhealthy. We’ve all had that one family member (or maybe BEEN that one family member #guilty) that wants to dispense all the diet opinions over dinner, and comment on the food choices of others, whether it’s by choice or doctor’s orders. Just this one time, let’s just not. As much as you like and appreciate the freedom and autonomy to make your own decisions about what you do with your health and body, allow others the same dignity to live their own lives as well.

The Nutshell

nutshell

See what I did there? Holidays are a time to hit the pause button on all of the Life Stuff and enjoy some of the simple pleasures of life. As long as you make choices that feel good to you and keep you moving to the next chapter, you are rocking your own road.

Go make it a great holiday!

The Half Marathon That Wasn’t

Last week I was totally prepared to publish a post about my big running comeback, thrilled that I had successfully completed my fourth half-marathon after taking a five year running break. However, nature had other plans.

The night before the race, as my friends and I prepared for a huge pasta dinner in anticipation for running a couple hours in the morning, we received notification that the race was cancelled due to poor air quality from the California wildfires.

It was a crushing disappointment, but we quickly reframed that this was nothing compared to the loss of homes and lives for those directly affected by the fires. We commiserated over our small yet dispiriting let down over the pasta anyway, washed down by a satisfactory amount of wine, and assembled a plan B.

Plan B turned out to be a pretty good substitute: a 10 mile hike at Pinnacles National Park.

It was an absolute gorgeous hike and a beautiful day. I’m pretty sure we found the only spot in California with clear air!

And we went through caves. Like, dark, probably bat-infested, need-a-flashlight caves.

It was so cool. And after hiking almost 10 miles, my legs were shaking as if I ran a half marathon!

Sending lots of prayers and support to the folks affected by the fires and the brave firefighters and first responders working tirelessly to battle the flames and help those in need.

Go make it a great day!