Guest post by Jackie Conn, General Manager, Weight Watchers of Maine, Inc.

Thanksgiving is a special holiday. It began with the Plymouth colonists and Wampanoag Indians. In 1621 they shared an autumn harvest feast that would be the first Thanksgiving celebration in the colonies. The feast was a celebration of survival in the new land and an abundant harvest.

Thanksgiving dinner

© evgenyb

Most American households continue the Thanksgiving celebration although its original religious significance has been supplanted by the feasting. Today the emphasis is on cooking and sharing a bountiful meal with family and friends.

The menu has changed too. Seal, swan and lobster were replaced with turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie. Many families enhance their feast with their favorite side dishes including the perennial favorite, green bean casserole.

Some weight-conscious folks go into the long holiday weekend with the best intentions to stick to their diet. Their dedication to losing weight goes awry before they even sit down for the turkey. Homes at Thanksgiving are just too full of too much tasty food. The feasting isn’t limited to just the big meal. It’s an all day event that may last for the whole long weekend.

5 steps

Thanksgiving is a holiday built around food. Creating a plan to eat carefully and within certain limits that may include total calories, total fat grams, total carb grams, and the like isn’t a good strategy. This strategy has been known to fail because it’s too rigid for the occasion, so here is a recovery plan.

First take a deep breath and relax. Everything is okay and weight loss success is still in your future. Don’t step on the scale to check for damage. Do this instead:

1) Get dressed. The temptation may be to stay in your pajamas. Don’t do it. Hanging around in your pajamas promotes more anti-weight loss behavior. When we wear pajamas all day we tend to sit more, watch more TV, and mindlessly eat all day.

2) Wear something that fits and flatters. Avoid the urge to pull on some stretchy pants with an elastic waist. That’s only a little better than staying in your pajamas. They invite you to keep eating because there’s no uncomfortable waistband to gently remind you that your stomach is full. Jeans are a good choice. If they don’t fit, put on something that does fit, but nothing stretchy and baggy please.

3) Give yourself a pep talk. Your Thanksgiving diet plan didn’t work. That wasn’t your fault; there were flaws in the plan. Negative self-talk and telling yourself “I’m too weak to lose weight and I’ll be fat for the rest of my life,” isn’t true and certainly not a motivator to change your behavior. It’s not a helpful thought.

You had a goal to maintain control and it didn’t happen. In the scheme of things, it was a small setback. Helpful thinking is recognizing the goal wasn’t realistic under the circumstances. Remind yourself that you are capable of getting up and moving forward after a setback.

Say this, “Setbacks are part of the process. All that matters is that I stay focused on the goal.”

4) Move but don’t overdo it. Don’t hurt yourself by over-exercising to “pay” for all the food you ate. Increasing your physical activity is always a smart move, but when you increase it to the degree that you hurt yourself it becomes counter-productive. Get moving. Do something fun to burn some calories.

Couple walking dog

© Monkey Business

5) Keep working towards your goal. Thanksgiving is the start of the holiday season. A rough start might convince you that it’s not the right time to worry about your weight. There’s another example of an unhelpful thought. Replace it with a thought that is helpful.

“This is a tough time of year to lose weight, but I can do my best to manage the season, and when it’s over I’ll be so glad I did.”

About Jackie Conn

Jackie ConnJackie Conn is married and has four grown daughters and four grandchildren. She is a Weight Watchers success story. Jackie is a recognized weight loss expert with 27 years of experience in guiding women and men to their weight-related goals. Her articles on weight management have been published in health, family and women’s magazines. She has been a regular guest on Channel 5 WABI news, FOX network morning program Good Day Maine, and 207 on WCSH. Follow her on Twitter and read more about losing weight and keeping it off on her blog weightinforme.