Let’s Indulge this Thanksgiving!

Ah, Thanksgiving.  My favorite holiday of the year.  Every November I look forward to waking up to the smell of turkey roasting in the oven, the sound of my mom clanging around in the kitchen, and the sight of my dad thumbing through the newspaper while the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade plays on the TV.

It brings a certain warm and fuzzy feeling.  You know the one – the one that makes you feel like you’re six years old again.  It’s a Thursday, and there’s no school.  The countdown to Christmas is finally starting.  And you’re about to eat the biggest meal of the entire year.

Succulent Thanksgivingturkey, creamy mashed potatoes, tangy cranberry sauce.  Savory stuffing, crisp green beans, decadent pumpkin pie with whipped cream.  And since I’m Filipino, fluffy white puto, peanut buttery kare kare, silky leche flan.  My mouth is already watering just thinking about it.

Food is an amazing thing.  Not only does it nourish your body, it brings family and friends together.  It satisfies your palate and your stomach.  And it has the ability to bring back nostalgia and memories.  It’s truly magical.

So what I’m about to say just may get me blacklisted in the fitness blog community, and my husband just might yell at me.

I propose that we all indulge this Thanksgiving.

[Screech!] Whoa, what?!?!  You want me to eat all that stuff?  What about my goals?  What about eating healthy?  What about steering away from the desserts, carbs, cocktails, and sticking to one plateful of food?

Okay, okay.  I don’t propose that you stuff yourself into a coma.  Until you couldn’t possibly move from the couch after you undo the top button of your pants, and you feel so sick to your stomach as you pass out for the rest of the night.  Because let’s face it – that actually ain’t all that fun.

I’m simply saying, enjoy yourself.  Thanksgiving comes but once a year.  Yes, it’s about giving thanks.  Yes, it’s about family.  But let’s be honest.  It’s about the food too.  Thanksgiving wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without the banquet.  If you, like me, are fortunate enough to have a table spilling over with food on this blessed day, you should enjoy it.  Enjoy that God gave you the gift of enjoying the savor, the sweet, the salty, the crunchy, and the creamy.  Enjoy the memories of festive parades and family football games that pumpkin pie and candied yams bring.

So while most fitness experts will tell you to skip the sugary desserts, drink fruit juice instead of cocktails, and load your plate up with salad so there is minimal room left for the mashed potatoes and stuffing, I’m telling you the opposite.  Enjoy the pumpkin pie, sip a martini, and make sure to get your fair share of the mashed potatoes and stuffing before your 15-year-old nephew hoards it all.

I will give you a few things to keep in mind however:

  1. Moderation is key.  Like I said, don’t stuff yourself for goodness sakes.  You’ll just end up feeling uncomfortable and sleepy.  Yes, eat a slice of pumpkin pie, but it shouldn’t be a full quarter of the entire thing!  Remember that it takes 20 minutes for your body to feel full.
  2. Remember there are consequences to your indulgence and accept them fully.  You just may feel like crap the next day.  If you do decide to eat all those goodies, understand that and accept it as a consequence.  Take responsibility the next few days to eat clean, drink plenty of water, and push yourself especially hard during your workouts.  (Skipping any workouts is NOT an option!)
  3. Promise yourself that it’s for Thanksgiving Day ONLY.  Most people make the horrible mistake of eating like crap for the entire holiday season.  It especially starts with Thanksgiving.  That’s when all the Christmas cookies start showing up at work, the cafeteria features gingerbread cake almost every day, and your weekend schedule is jammed with friends’ holiday cocktail hour. Don’t fall into that trap!  You’ll only hate yourself when the New Year rolls around.

So, this can be a tricky thing.  Allowing yourself to indulge for that one day can easily lead to moments of weakness throughout the holiday season.  You must have a strong mindset, discipline, and a strong commitment to yourself.  But if you truly feel confident enough to make it work, I say go for it.

Enjoy your Thanksgiving!  I know I will.   Pumpkin pie, here I come!

Pumpkin Pie

*Obligatory disclaimer that my husband asked me to post: The opinions expressed in this blog do not reflect the opinion of Element 5 Fitness or the Element 5 Fitness staff. They are solely the responsibility of the author. (That’s me!) I am not a personal trainer nor a nutrition expert. I am merely sharing with you my thoughts, opinions, and what has worked for me. [End Disclaimer]

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I have a 2-pack!!!

Well, when I flex really hard.  And when the lighting is just right.  And if I squint my eyes just a little bit and turn my head about 30 degrees to the right.

Hey!  Don’t rain on my parade, okay?  This is significant!  I can’t remember the last time I could even remotely see any resemblance of an anything-pack! 

And yes, I have been known to spend good, quality time in front of the mirror admiring my pre-rockhard, washboard abs.  My husband just rolls his eyes when he walks by and laughs, “Oh my gosh.”

Like I said, don’t rain on my parade!  I focus on the progress.  See, a lot of people will focus on the bellyfat and arm flab (or the stick arms and pigeon legs).  They’ll look at what they don’t like and out of anger or distaste, will work out to change what they don’t like about themselves.

I have a different strategy.  I choose to focus on what I do like and the progress that I have made.  And I make fitness and nutrition about accentuating that, and allowing everything else to catch up to it.  And that applies not just to whether I like how a certain body part looks.  It applies to whether I’m happy with my energy levels, my current state of flexibility, and my ability to dance like a disco queen to a cheesy ABBA song.

Gratitude is one of the most powerful things in the universe.  Be thankful for what you have.  Focus on what you like about yourself, about the progress you have made, and you’re bound to get more of it.  If you constantly focus on what you don’t like, you’ll always overlook the progress that you are making, and you’ll always be able to find one more thing you can pick on. 

I challenge you to pick one thing you like about yourself.  Do you have nice ankles?  Or a nice, angled chin?  No matter how miniscule, pick something.  Focus on that.  Spend time in the mirror looking at it.  Yes, make your family think you’re totally vain about it! 

Have you made the slightest bit of progress since you started working out?  Dropped 2 pounds?  Do your jeans feel just a looser?  Dwell on that!  Be thankful for it, and celebrate! 

So don’t laugh at me when I shout from the rooftops that I have a 2-pack.  That 2-pack is just the beginning of more packs!

“I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.”  — Michelangelo

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Sometimes you’re more likely to do it if it’s less convenient.

I forgot my gym clothes at home today.  Dammit. 

Here’s my routine: I throw some workout clothes, my shaker bottle, and my recovery drink mix into my gym bag before I zip out the door on my way to work.  I leave my gym bag in my trunk, and after work I head to the gym on my way home.

It would be a whole heck of a lot easier and more convenient to work out at home though.  I have all the equipment to do so (some resistance bands, a stability ball, and of course my own bodyweight), and when I lived in my old apartment, I had a pretty decent workout facility.

So my old strategy was to leave my workout clothes at home and work out when I got home…Didn’t really work.

I’ve realized that when I go through the effort of getting my clothes together the night before or the morning of, I’m much more likely to make my way to the gym at the end of the day.

Sometimes when 4PM rolls around, I catch the little devil on my shoulder saying to me, “You don’t really need to go to the gym today.  You can work out at home.”  The angel on the other shoulder then replies, “You don’t really believe that, do you?  You know you’ll get home and find a million better things to do than work out.”

I then think about the clothes in my trunk, the shaker bottle in my bag, and the recovery drink I meticulously stored in a little ziplock baggie.  The time I spent getting it all together this morning – what a waste if I just go home.

So I get my ass to the gym.

Today I’m not so lucky.  I have to play that game with the devil on my shoulder.  When I get home today, I must go straight for those gym shoes, turn on the music, and get my workout on. 

Bring it.

FAQ #1: Have you always been fit?

If you’ve read my “About” page, you already know the answer to this one.  Before I met my husband in college, I had never set foot in a gym before.  Okay, that’s slightly a lie.  There were those times in middle school P.E. class when we had “weight training” week.  We all crammed into this tiny weight room.  And while I curled probably all of five pounds – yes with both arms – the boys in my class dangerously attempted to lift way more than they had any business lifting. 

My most vivid memory of that time was when one of those boys took all the weight off one end of his bench press bar, and subsequently the bar tipped due to the imbalance and conked him in the ear.  A bloody mess ensued.  (Don’t worry, he lived.  With not even a scar to be seen.)

Prior to meeting my husband, my favorite meal was Burger King’s Crispy Chicken Sandwich with a large fries and medium orange soda.  Mmm…I still crave it to this day.  But back in those days, I ate that every day.  If it wasn’t the chicken sandwich, it was a nice, big, juicy Whopper. 

Before college, I didn’t exactly eat very healthy either.  Anyone who’s Filipino would understand that hot dogs are breakfast food.  (It’s part of the sausage family, right?)  Therefore, corn dogs were a perfectly acceptable way to start the day.

But when I went to college, I discovered the dorm room cafeteria food.  I ate a burger at least 4 times a week.  The cafeteria ladies piled meatloaf and mashed potatoes a mile high on my plate.  And as my mother taught me, there are starving children in Africa, so I had to finish all my food.

Before I knew it, my Freshman Fifteen quickly turned into Freshman Thirty.  My size -3 turned into a distant memory.  My clear complexion turned into pepperoni pizza. 

At the time, I didn’t even realize what was happening.  Then I went home for the holidays, and my family so graciously pointed it out to me.  (Families are great for that, aren’t they?)  But I had no idea what to do about it. 

What? You mean what I eat impacts my weight and my skin?  What?  I should work out?  How do I do that?

Fast forward a couple years, and I met my husband.  When I met him, I had lost about twenty of the Freshman Thirty I gained, but I was definitely not fit.  (Losing weight from stress and partying doesn’t count.)  Skip over the awkward first time in a gym, the encounters with disgusting protein shakes, and the time my mom told me I was starting to “look like a man” (those are all better topics for future postings), and here I am today.  In probably the best shape I’ve ever been in.

It’s been a long road.  So, have I always been fit?  That’s an emphatic hell no.

He makes you work out every day, doesn’t he?

I was in my Saturday morning workout class, a class of about 10 people who are trying to get fit. A woman on the mat next to me, sweat beading down her forehead while struggling to maintain a plank position, asked me, “So does [insert my husband’s name here] make you work out a lot?”

No, this isn’t the first time I’ve been asked this question. Other variations include: “Do you and [insert my husband’s name here] eat healthy all the time?”, “[Insert husband’s name here] must force you to go to the gym at least 5 times a week, doesn’t he?”, and “Does [insert my husband’s name here] yell at you if you eat a Big Mac?”

Just as I started feeling that shaky “there’s no way I can hold this position any longer” feeling, I saw a pair of feet walk up to my mat. Our group fitness trainer half jokingly, but all annoyingly told us to stop talking and keep our abs and glutes tight.

I gave him a dirty look. The kind I do whenever he tells me to stop being a wuss and do another push-up, lat pulldown, or split squat. The kind I do whenever he tells me to quit nagging about the dirty dishes he left in the sink or the trash I asked him to take out three days ago.

Yes, my husband is my trainer. I’m married to a personal trainer and fitness entrepreneur.

So this is my blog. For those of you who either love or hate seeing your trainer for that hour a week or however often you see him or her, I’m here to tell you I feel you. I have to live with mine.