Michael Mendoza wasn’t always the rippling torso of sinew and muscles that he is now. One fateful day, only 30 yards into a 10k that he’d signed up for and not trained for at all – despite his lethargic attitude to life – he realized that taking his body for granted was a dangerous thing to do. His life was going to change immediately and it all began with his diet. He explains…

“Going vegan was definitely not an overnight process, which is why it bugs me that so many people think they can guilt someone into going vegan. Look, I knew that we tortured animals, but I could have really cared less. They were our food, so who cared if they were ethically treated before slaughter, right?

Vegans and animal rights activists just have way too much time on their hands! Don’t get me wrong, I was definitely an animal lover, dogs, cats, and anything on the endangered species list, but not our food supply.”

Michael explains that he got to where he is by what he calls his “Matrix Effect”. He decided to take that  pill and see just how far the rabbit hole led him. Having already started an exercise regimen with healthier foods and leaner meats, the thought of giving up meat never crossed his mind.

“I was pretty successful in losing a large amount of weight when a book called “Skinny Bastard,” made its way into my hands. I laughed at the notion of vegetarianism but read it anyways. After reading the book, I was horrified and in disbelief. I didn’t want to buy into the fact that our food supply was really tainted. I didn’t want to believe that the government could allow any of these practices to go on. I did more research and eventually adopted a vegan diet. I lost even more weight but reverted into vegetarianism. Years go by as a vegetarian and I had gained a substantial amount of weight back.”

Michael didn’t know another vegetarian or vegan (or “v*gan”, as they are commonly referred to in text) at all by this time. This eventually changed due to social media and he met many others with the same philosophy online. Noticing that many of the vegans he saw online were athletes, he decided to give it a try and go vegan. He bought the book “Thrive” by Brendain Braizer – a successful vegan triathlete – and took his advice.

“I followed his program and had this energy that I never had before. I was able to go faster and further with this new diet. I was running 10k’s and half marathons for fun! I dropped a lot of weight and was in the best shape of my life. All thanks to social media.”

“Another thing that happened was that I learned compassion for animals. I gave up leather and anything related to animal products. Being vegan does open your eyes to the fact that you really don’t need animal products to survive. Heck, being vegan is why I have all this energy.”

But there wasn’t just one tipping point or moments of clarity that Michael puts this down to. He was around 300+lbs, smoked occasionally and drank all the time. He recalls how what he consumed on a daily basis wasn’t good. “My diet was also pretty horrendous. I never ate a single meal without meat and drank at least three cans of diet cherry coke every day.”

“I was at a party and a few friends were talking about a 10K they entered. I had run a 10K for a college final once before, and I was still confident about it. I jokingly said that I was able to run a race, and everyone just laughed at me. To prove them wrong, I signed up for it.  It was a scorcher and well over 100 degrees outside. I met all my friends and we headed to the starting line. Keep in mind, I had zero training and did not prepare for this run at all. They shot that gun and we all started running like rats abandoning a ship. I had a good stride until about 30 or so yards. My lungs started to hurt, my legs started to ache, and I could barely breathe! I took a look back at the starting line and seriously thought about heading back in shame.

300 pound guy trying to run six miles? What was I thinking? I decided the shame of turning back would be too much to handle, so I pressed forward. I decided that I would finish this God forsaken race even if I had to crawl to the finish line.”

As he was bent over double, gasping for air, he was passed by a lady that was in her 70’s. The full horror of his own physical fitness was now washing over him like a cold shower. The alarms were ringing and life was slapping his face from left to right and back again. Time to wake up, Michael.

“She looked like someone that I should help cross the street and here she was passing this guy in his 20’s?! This was ridiculous! So I gave all that I had and passed her up. It was a back and forth race for miles with this lady who should have been knitting at home, not competing with me in a race that I was obviously losing! I finally gave up! She passed me and I was embarrassed. I started to hyperventilate and seriously thought I might die that day. But Like I said, I decided to finish even if I had to crawl across that damn line!”

He eventually finished the race in what he considers to be the worst shape of his life. Sweaty, drained of energy and feeling utterly humiliated and beaten down, it took Michael 1 hour and 52 minutes to cover the 10k. Feeling so drained, Michael had to rest for a few hours before he considered himself good enough to drive home, such was the level of his exhaustion.

“Ever since that day I knew that I needed to get into shape but never really knew how. I was so lazy and eventually lost the passion to get fit. A few months later I took a trip to Europe. My life forever changed since then.”

Some of Michael’s training would include things like uphill sand dune sprints

“In the States I was huge but there were others that were equally large around me. In Europe however, I was the biggest guy in the Continent! It didn’t take very long to realize why! My first day in Venice Italy, I went to a local shop and ordered a pizza and soda. It was such a tiny slice of pizza and the smallest soda I have ever seen! I laughed and thought I must have ordered in the over-priced tourist area!

Later on for dinner, I went to another restaurant and ordered some ravioli. Oh I was super excited! I mean, I’m in Italy eating Italian. Awesome right? Nope! Here comes the waiter with my bowl full of ravioli, 4 pieces. 4 freaking pieces! It was the Twilight Zone here!”

Reverting to type, Michael resorted to what he knew – American fast food. Going to Burger King and McDonalds, he knew he would be in familiar territory. Sadly for him, he soon found that there wasn’t a “Super Size” option for him to fall back on. He quickly understood that he would “either starve or go broke.”

“Slowly but surely I started realizing that these Europeans didn’t have tiny portion sizes, but we Americans had gigantic portion sizes. I also figured out another thing, my feet were killing me. I was walking everywhere. In California, walking was for people who didn’t have cars, not for everyone else.

I came back with a new outlook on life. There was a Starbucks about a quarter mile from my apartment that I would drive to. I never took my car again and started a portion control diet with exercise.”

In regards to training, Michael was a rudderless ship. Not really knowing what he wanted to do, or even how to do it, he was all over the place.

“I started this popular diet called “Atkins.” It was great! I got to eat tons of bacon and eggs and didn’t have to worry about anything. Well, that didn’t last long. I didn’t lose any weight and I felt horrible. I started researching different programs and eventually found one that I liked. It was superset lifting with 33% protein, 33% carbs, and 33% fats. It told me to stay away from fruits and not to do any cardio. I cheated and ate fruits and started to run.”

His vendetta was consuming him. He had a score to settle with 10K of asphalt. He wanted to be able to run a distance that he considered a man of his age should easily be able to do.

“I calculated a full 3 miles around my whole apartment block. It wasn’t easy at all but I was completely motivated. My first run was similar to that 10K I did months before. After about 30 yards in, I was done, but pushed myself to keep going. Days that I wasn’t attempting to run, I started to lift. I was way too embarrassed to hit up a local gym, so I used my apartment gym instead. Luckily we had a decent amount of weights and exercise equipment. I didn’t know what I was doing so I just followed a workout plan.”

The difference in his body wasn’t something he noticed at first. Not overly concerned with how he looked, moreover how he felt, he eventually saw that, over the months, his body was changing in a positive way.

“After months of running, months of eating healthy, and months of dropping pounds, I ran 6 miles without stopping. I didn’t even really notice that I had reached this level of “athleticism.” It was everyday work for me and I had never taken notice.”

There was a quote that I printed up and went like this, “Unless you’re giving 100% every time, you might as well stay at home. So that’s what I did, gave it my 100% every time I went out! Granted, you’re going to have good days and bad days, but I never limited myself.”

“What really made me realize the difference were the compliments from friends and family at how much weight I had lost. I honestly did not notice much changing, it was only till my friends said something that I was able to really look at old pictures of myself, and notice the change.”

But as every Spartan Racer knows, there is an area that every single person has, regardless of strength, stamina, build, body shape, age or mental fortitude. A common bond that we all share and one that we all have to push past in order to make it worthwhile – the comfort zone.

“Yes! Getting out of your comfort zone!”, Michael laughs, “the hardest thing for me was getting rid of the people who were negatively influencing me and hanging out with those who would positively influence me. You cannot get into shape if you’re hanging out with people who do nothing but drink, smoke, and eat horrible food.”

“I put friendships, nightlife and fast food on hold. I told myself that it was a temporary inconvenience and that it would be worth it in the end. Boy did it pay off. I seriously felt like a whole new person afterwards. Accepting that everything I knew about food was completely wrong was hard but necessary. Admitting being wrong about a lot of stuff was tough but was the first step to recovery. Once I accepted that I had no idea what I was doing, I was then able to move forward and learn about food and fitness.”

Offering advice for those open to what he experienced, Michael is quick to lay out some pointers, should anyone want to follow his example.

“It is hard and boy is it tough! If it were easy, everyone would be in shape! You have to want it bad and be willing to struggle for it. Once you get to that point where you have that, “nothing is going to stop me,” mentality, you’ll be successful! Most people quit at the first sign of a struggle and wonder why their “diet” doesn’t work. If there is a wall, you climb it. If there is a ditch, you jump over it. If there is a lake, you swim across it. That’s it. That’s the secret! For every object that gets in your path, you have to overcome it. And that is how you will succeed.”

Obstacles are not there to prevent your progress. They are opportunities to show what your mind and body can do.

Sign up today and we’ll see you at the finish line.

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By Guest blogger Coach Pain DeWayne

It’s a New Year and you have decided to step up to get in the best shape of your life. To some, resolution is a new beginning.  The time is now and sacrifices will have to be made starting with the challenges ahead, it will takes 90% mental and 10% physical toughness to achieve your ultimate goal.  How to stick with your goal is to plan.

Take a pen and pad and write down your plan for the day, starting with your food intake and finishing off with a good productive training regiment NOT A ROUTINE. Routines are predictable and life isn’t.  When starting off with a food plan, it’s a process and to some, it’s very challenging, but it is not impossible to accomplish.  Remember, the workout is only the tip of the iceberg.  You must stay focus and not allow anything to throw you off track.  Fitness is a lifestyle and a journey for which you can and will accomplish.  Start off on the right path and remember, you must crawl before you walk and walk before you run.  When exercising, stick to a moderate program that is sufficient for your fitness level and try not to do what you see others do inside or outside the gym at an advanced level because what works for them may not work for you or it may not be your time to work at that level.  You are a work in progress. Beginning means to start so starts up right for example, food, limit the bad choices you make: pizza, fried chicken, chocolate chip cookies and alcohol intake.  You don’t have to necessarily deprive yourself from these choices.  Food is for us to enjoy, not to gorge.  Everything exists in a delicate balance.  Listed below are examples of good and bad nutrition:

 

Fat: Healthy fats vs. damaged fats.  Eat more healthy fats; eliminate all damaged fats

Protein: Naturally raised vs. unnaturally raised animals.  Go organic and natural for animals because these are at the top of the food chain.

Carbohydrates: Whole carbohydrates vs. refined carbohydrates. Eat more vegetables – eliminate refined grains and sugars.

 

Healthy Fats

Almonds

Flaxseed

Pecans

Sunflower seeds

Walnuts

Avocado

Good Fats

Fish – Salmon, halibut, sardines, anchovies

Eggs – organic, hormone free/antibiotic free and fed no animal by products

 

Oils

Coconut oil (best for high heat)

Olive Oil (medium heat only)

Walnut, Flaxseed, avocado oil (Do not heat)

Cod liver oil (Do not heat)

Hemp seed oil (Do not heat)

 

Good Proteins

Grass fed meat (beef, lamb)

Fish

Eggs

Poultry (Chicken & Turkey)

Carbohydrates

Lower-Glycemic Carbohydrates – High in fiber, these are always your best carbohydrate choices any time of the day. Examples: Cabbage, Celery, Cucumber, Lettuce, Broccoli, Kale, Tomatoes, Zucchini, Lemons, Strawberries, Granny Smith Applies

Moderate –Glycemic Carbohydrates – Reduce consumption of these after lunch.  Completely eliminate these carbohydrates after lunch if weight loss is a concern. Examples: Brown Rice, Pinto Beans, Sweet Potato, Squash, Steel Cut Oats, Whole Grain Breads, Ezekiel 4:9 Bread, Tangerines, Kiwi, Pears, Melons

High – Glycemic Carbohydrates – Eat these carbohydrates only during recovery from exercise.  Avoid them completely if weight loss is a concern. Examples: Banana, Honey, Grapes, Pineapples, Mango

Refined Carbohydrates – Sugars and refined grains are eliminated completely on the maximized living nutrition plans. Examples: Brown & White Sugar, Sweetened fruit juice and honey, fructose, glucose, sucrose, syrups, white rice, white flour, white pasta.

 

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While it’s clear that the fight against obesity and poor health has never had more momentum, it appears that champagne corks shouldn’t be popping just yet. Save those back slaps and knucklebumps for a moment, as things aren’t quite as rosey as we’d like to believe they are.

The Overseas Development Institute recently said one in three people worldwide was now overweight and urged governments to do more to influence diets. 

In the UK, 64% of adults are classed as being overweight or obese.

The report predicts a “huge increase” in heart attacks, strokes and diabetes.

Globally, the percentage of adults who were overweight or obese – classed as having a body mass index greater than 25 - grew from 23% to 34% between 1980 and 2008.

Spartan Race has been pushing for Americans and indeed those around the world to live healthier and exercise more.

Consider signing up for our FOD . With our Food Of The Day, you will be emailed a different food/recipe that you may like to consider each and every day.

Likewise our WOD – workout of the day – will give you a routine to go through that will not only keep you in shape, but will prepare you for your next Spartan Race. Our WODs are designed to target elements of our races which, when done regularly, will see you attack obstacles with greater strength and confidence.

Sign up your children (ages 4-13) for Spartan Kids so that they can share the pleasure of experiencing what the adults get to enjoy.

Of course, the regular Spartan Race is still waiting for you adults aged 14 and over. Let’s get together and push that obesity percentage down. Sign up your friends and family and have today be the first day of the rest of your lives!

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We’ve all been there: You just crossed the finish line and the only thing that’s more important that that medal being draped around your neck and a congratulatory hug from the friends and family is FOOD. Mixing running and extreme cardiovascular-intense obstacles, Spartan Racers can burn thousands of calories along the course. So it’s not surprising to experience hunger that borders on insanity! However, it seems like this mom from Nebraska may have all our hungers beat. She destroyed a 72oz steak in under 3 minutes. We don’t recommend speed eating (although at least she was eating paleo).

If you’re hungry to get hungry, find your race today. Your steak is waiting.

SIGN UP NOW

Additional Stories
Burpees are good for your health

Forget The Meat: A Guide to Eating Raw Food  

The Definitive Signs That You Are A Spartan (Sorry, there is no cure) 

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There is a reason why you see bananas at the end of marathons, triathlons, and obstacle races.  Simply put, you can’t go wrong with eating bananas.  Bananas are concentrated nutrition delivered direct from one raw food, fueling you up with approximate 100 calories, 3 grams of fiber, and 422 mg of potassium.   Muscle cramping has long been documented as being related to low potassium levels.  Anyone who has had their legs lock up at the end of a long race can appreciate this, and should consider grabbing one whenever they are around.

Bananas are easy to eat and digest for the most part. They are easily chewed up and swallowed, even if one is running at 90% intensity.  While everyone manages solid food while exercising differently, the banana seems pretty universally accepted as easy to digest while exercising.

In fact, they are easy on your stomach.

Bananas have long been recognized for their antacid effects that protect against stomach ulcers and ulcer damage. In one study, a simple mixture of banana and milk significantly reduced acid secretion. In addition, bananas also help activate the cells that compose your stomach lining, producing a thicker protective mucus barrier against stomach acids.

So, when reaching for your coffee in the morning, reach for a banana, too.  When you are heading to workout, grab a banana to go with you for either before, during, or after your workout.  Simply put, you never know when you might need an extra dose of quality raw food calories and potassium.

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Asparagus: Spartan Food of the Day

Heavy in –  Vitamin K, fiber, vitamin B6

Light on – Calories, saturated fat

If weight management is your goal, think about scripting several pounds of asparagus into your plans.  This veggie is a low calorie source of folate, potassium, fiber, and vitamin B6. The stalks are heavy in antioxidants, so don’t just cook and eat the tips – just trim off the brown bottom pieces off. (I find these to be great dog treats.)

One cup of asparagus has almost 5 grams of dietary fiber, something important for your digestion.  Long story short, if you are training at peak performance, you will want your digestion system to keep up.  Fiber is your go-to for this.

This is one of those vegetables that seems to defy all the odds in terms of holding up in the fridge, the one item still edible when coming home after a long weekend of racing.

How to Cook Asparagus:

Asparagus can be eaten raw, but is most often steamed to make tenderer.  You can blanch, boil, bake, or grill – being such a hearty vegetable it’s hard to mess up.

Can’t go wrong with salt, pepper, and olive oil.  Just add fire.

Sources:

Fight Back with Food: Use Nutrition to Heal What Ails You. Pleasantville, NY: Reader’s Digest Association, 2002. Print.

“U.S. Department of Agriculture.” U.S. Department of Agriculture. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 Sept. 2013.

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Grab an eggplant if you are looking for a beefy vegetable that is low in sodium, cholesterol, and saturated fat, while being high in fiber, vitamin B6, and vitamin C.

Curried Eggplants with Salsa
by Rose-Marie Jarry

30 minutes
2 servings
223 calories per serving
Gluten free, Vegan

Ingredients:

1 eggplant
2 tomatoes
2 scallions
1/2 lemon, juice
1/4 cup fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons of coconut flour
1 tablespoon of curry paste
2 tablespoons of coconut oil
1 teaspoon of curry powder
Salt and pepper

Directions:

Pre-heat oven to 400F.
Slice the eggplant into thin pieces. Sprinkle sea salt on them and set aside.
In a small bowl mix the coconut flour with the salt and pepper. Mix the curry paste with the coconut oil. Warm up a pan and melt the mix of oil and curry together.
Dip each slice of eggplant in water, and then right away in coconut flour on each side.
Cook them in the warm pan for 2 minutes on each side.
Place on a cookie sheet and cook in the oven for 10 minutes.
Dice the tomatoes with the scallions and cilantro.
Add the remaining spices and mix everything together.
When the eggplants are well roasted, place some salsa on them and serve right away.

For more information on receiving our Food Of The Day, click here.

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By Amy Kubal MS, RD

Here are 12 tips to help you stay healthy, sane and the same size this holiday season:

1.) Deck your appetizer buffet with vegetable and fruit trays, shrimp platters, nuts that are still in the shell (provide nutcrackers), and sparkling water with lemons and limes; instead of cheese and crackers, cookies, candy, and eggnog. Keep you and your loved ones “Merry and Light”!

HolidayWeight2.) Plan your attack. Decide which seasonal treats are worth the indulgence and which ones you can pass up. Go in with a plan to beat the buffet!

3.) Host a Paleo holiday gathering. If your friends and family are on board; this one will be EASY! Assign each guest a “course” – appetizer, entree, side, salad, dessert, drink, etc., to bring to the party. And if you aren’t fortunate enough to have ‘paleo posse’; supply your guests with recipes and/or directions telling them exactly what to bring!

4.) Start a new holiday tradition. Instead of the yearly “cookie swap” try a Paleo “soup swap”. Everyone brings a specified quantity of a soup and let the trading begin! Be sure to have the soup makers provide recipes!!

5.) Sweat! Exercise is important – especially during the holidays!! Make it a family activity – go for a walk, play in the snow, head to the basketball court. Whatever you do, don’t take an extended vacation from all activity, unless you’re making a run for next year’s mall Santa…

6.) Turn out the lights. Sleep!! During this high-stress season it’s more important than ever to make sure you’re getting adequate shuteye.

7.) Hold it steady – your weight, that is. The holidays are not the time to start working on those ‘last 10’ or first ‘20’ pounds. Just focus on not making the situation worse!

8.) Stay hydrated – with WATER!!! Thirst is often confused with hunger. Dehydration might drive you to the cook jar and also leave you drowsy. Choose water instead of eggnog, cider, alcohol, cocoa, soda, and juices. Save room for the good stuff – the food!!

9.) Enjoy your FAVORITE seasonal treats in moderation. READ: Two dozen cookies is NOT moderation!!

10.) Keep it simple! The holidays don’t have to be epic and elaborate. If Christmas dinner is burgers and brats that’s okay! Think outside the box – it doesn’t have to be traditional to be special!

11.) Say no. If you’ve been invited to every party in town it’s okay to not go to all of them! Remember that your sanity counts and if staying home watching “National Lampoons Christmas Vacation” sounds like a little piece of heaven in comparison to the party; there’s your sign! Stay home, relax. There’s always next year…

12.) Lastly, keep in mind the true meaning of the holidays. It’s not about food, presents, decorations, and parties. It’s about being with the people that we care about most. As long as you remember that; you are sure to maintain your health, sanity, and waist size this season.

Happy Holidays!!!

Written by Amy Kubal, MS, RD, LN, Paleo Dietitian – Amy is a Registered “Paleo” Dietitian and the ring leader of Robb Wolf’s RD consulting team. She works with a wide range of clients from competitive athletes to those dealing with complex health problems. Check out her bio and consulting options, and her blog Fuel As Rx to get your Paleo nutrition fix. Email her if you have questions or would like to learn more at: amyk.rd@gmail.com

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By Maurya Scanlon

Historically, Spartan women were quite possibly the toughest women on the planet.  After all, it takes a warrior to raise one.  Today, that tough, fighting spirit still drives women to achieve amazing feats.  Rose Marie Jarry has used the strength and courage characteristic of a Spartan woman not only on our courses but also in her business-life.  I recently had the pleasure of conversing with this amazing woman: the founder of Kronobar.

Jarry has been an athlete almost her entire life.  “For many years I competed nationally in Track and Field running the 400m and 800m. Competition also gives me an excuse to take care of my body; I only eat healthy… It keeps me feeling young!” she shared.  That competitive spirit and passion for health and fitness carried over into her adult life and are what inspired her to train for and race Spartan Races.  She has “[run] about 11 Spartan Races to date! And [she’s] completed the Spartan trifecta: the sprint, the super and the beast.”  It’s no surprise that someone so active and dedicated to racing and being fit would create a product geared towards athletes.

Jarry, an artistic woman with a passion for flavor, studied “gastronomy at a well-known school in Montreal.”  It’s no surprise, then, that Kronobar started out in her own kitchen.  “At first I just wanted to make a nutritious snack for my own training…I needed something tasty and healthy, but couldn’t find anything on the market that satisfied me.” At that, Jarry decided to make her own recovery snacks.  “I made a few flavors and gave some to my friends, who asked if I could make more. It was once several gyms and sports shops in the area started asking for bars that I realized I had something special.”  Kronobar took off from there!  I asked her if she noticed any similarities in her attitudes towards business and racing.  She replied, “What I love about racing is that you keep pushing your limits and realizing that you’re capable of way more than you expected. When I apply that same mentality to my company, good things tend to happen.”  Good things like awesome partnerships!

Kronobar became a partner with Spartan Race when it sponsored the second ever race in Mont-Tremblant.  Jarry explained, “It was a total success, so we’ve been partners ever since! ..But to be honest, it wasn’t a business decision to partner-up. It was mostly that I wanted to run (and win) the race; which I did. And then I caught Spartan fever!”  We can’t blame her!  The partnership continues providing opportunities for racers such as the “Krono challenge” for all the Canadian Spartan Races.”  This challenge, she explained, is another way for her to race.  “Any female competitor who beats me will get free Kronobars and a bunch of other prizes. We also have a guy running on the Krono team, so if any male competitor beats him, they’re also eligible for the prizes.”  She added with a little laugh, “Last year no one beat me, so I’m hoping for more competition this year!”

That sounds like a challenge to me, Spartans!  I encourage each of you to take the opportunity to be a part of the Krono Challenge in the Canadian 2012 season.  Jarry and her team will challenge you to have the race of your life, after which you can indulge on a delicious Kronobar!

by Dan Camp with contributions from Lorraine Fender-Chiarizzio

turkey-dinner-photo-270-jsub-5201281Okay so Thanksgiving is approaching and like you I am excited for all the yummy food.  BUT sometimes that excitement can lead to you feeling the stuff bird you just ate!   Do you savor the taste of all the great food, enjoy the company and appreciate the day for what it is?  Or do you just eat to the point where you wished you wore pants with an elastic band?  So here are a few tips to not feel like a stuffed turkey!

1.  Exercise first in the morning, even if it’s a brisk walk, bring the family.  Some say because it’s a holiday it needs to be a day off of exercise, if anything that is more reason to get a workout in!  We can probably assume you will be consuming a good amount of carbs (some not so good but that’s okay it’s Turkey Day!) so all the more reason to get that metabolism fired up and ready to burn!  Anyone running a Turkey Trot?

2.  DON’T SKIP BREAKFAST!!!!!   Many people do this…maybe you figured you didn’t need the extra calories…WRONG!  Breakfast gets the metabolism cooking…it means “break the fast”.  Have some protein like eggs/egg whites with some veggies.  The protein will keep you fuller longer so you aren’t starving when all the goodies hit the table.

3.  WATER, WATER, WATER!!!  You probably can figure this one out, it will help fill your belly so you eat a bit less and helps with all the extra sodium you are probably going to get with some of the food being served.

4.  Bring a veggie tray with you as an appetizer if you don’t think they have one.  Raw veggies are great for snacking and will prevent you from overeating.  Make your own veggie dip with a light sour cream or buy a healthier version and put in a unmarked container, I bet no one will even know they are eating a healthier version of dip!

5.  DECIDE…are you going to fill your plate once with everything you want or are you hitting it like it’s an all you can eat buffet?  Let’s think here, most of the time you go back for seconds within minutes of finishing plate #1, give yourself 15-20min, I bet you won’t feel like re-filling.  Plus if you DECIDED to not want to feel like a stuffed turkey then that’s it, DECISION made, one plate full of all you want and that’s it until dessert.  You will feel proud of yourself and physically feel better!

6.  Food choices…opt for white meat not dark.  Keep an eye on the starchy carbs and how much.  Throw extra white meat on your plate and less buttery mashed potatoes, candied sweet potato, stuffing, and rolls.  Oh and gravy…keep to a minimum, try having it on the side and dip your fork in it with each bite rather than pouring it on.

7. PAY ATTENTION…what I mean is take your time chewing, savor the flavors, appreciate what you’re eating, be grateful and enjoy your company and the day itself, don’t make it ALL about FOOD!

8.  Drink water with your wine or if you are having some other alcoholic beverage.  It helps slow down the buzz you might get which could lead to uncontrolled eating, can help avoid hangover headaches and it will keep you hydrated as alcohol is a diuretic.

9.  Okay, chow time is over, don’t head for the recliner!  See who is willing to take a stroll with you, get out and feel great about the day.  If it’s yucky out then help clean up, stay occupied and don’t pick, those picks ADD UP.  Just do something!

10. Ahhh leftovers…that doesn’t mean an entire Thanksgiving dinner all over again…enough said :-)

Hope that helps, Happy Thanksgiving!

[Editor’s Note:  Dan Camp is a certified STRIDE Instructor and a certified Sports Nutrition Consultant who has raced with Spartan in Staten Island.  Dan Camp’s posts from http://fitasylum.com/ will regularly be making an appearance on the Spartan Blog.]

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