By Melissa Vandett

According to historians, the first Thanksgiving was celebrated in 1621. Although we don’t know for sure what these first dinner guests consumed, history suggests it included wild fowl, seafood, venison, Indian corn and wheat flour, vegetables, fruits and nuts. Modern dishes such as pumpkin pie (no recipe existed in this time period), mashed potatoes and gravy (potatoes weren’t common then), green bean casserole, broccoli Velveeta bake and my personal favorite – stuffing – just didn’t exist.

Since the first National Day of Thanksgiving was formally declared in 1863, our modern culture has turned a day of thanks and friendship into an excuse to over indulge. And worse, many keep up the pace until their scales register an average weight gain of 7 pounds by the first week of the New Year.

Here are some tips to help keep you on the right track on Thanksgiving Day:

  • Exercise on Thanksgiving Day. Look for a fitness facility offering group classes. Often times, being with fitness minded people before you head home to eat will put you in the right frame of mind.  And who wants to spoil a good workout? But remember, even your best workout cannot undo absurd eating!
  • Think before you eat. Know what you want, and take just that.
  • Remember portion control counts, even on Thanksgiving Day.
  • Make sure that you include healthy foods such as salad and veggies.
  • Protein, as in your turkey, will be lower in fat and calories and fill you up faster.
  • Don’t overdo it when planning the menu. Make enough to feed the number of people coming. And remember, it’s Thanksgiving Day, not Thanksgiving week. Give leftovers away!
  • Don’t starve yourself all day to save up calories – you are more likely to go overboard.
  • Volunteer at Thanksgiving. Nothing will put the day and the season into perspective like serving those less fortunate than you.
  • Schedule a workout on Friday – preferably in the morning.  Get yourself feeling healthy again. Call a friend to go for a morning walk. If you can make it out of bed at 3 a.m. to get a good deal on a flat screen, you can make it to a Friday workout!

Make this a healthy holiday season. Don’t just assume you are going to gain weight during the holidays and give in. Stay fitness focused by committing to a fitness challenge.  Train for a 5k, marathon or triathlon.  Hire a trainer or find a friend who is dedicated to his or her workouts to help keep you on track.  If you aren’t working out yet – get started before the holidays. Don’t wait until the New Year to be motivated or inspired.   If time is a concern, then start by committing to 10-20 minutes a few times per week. Something is better than nothing and often leads to more!