Don’t Cry over Pumpkin Pie

I think I had some of you worried with my last post. I’m fine, really! It wasn’t really the weight that was getting to me, it was just a whole wave of self-doubt and lack of confidence that just overtook me. When I get stressed out, I tend to over-analyze, over-think, and generally get a lot less confident. My mind equates high pressure with super high stakes, meaning a bigger distance to fail. I hate failing. I hate when people think I’m not giving 100% or they don’t like something I did. My weight is the one part of my life that I feel like I have consistently failed with. Now that I’m getting somewhere with it, it’s almost like I need to up my game all around and perform faster, better, stronger… <ok, realize I’m rambling so now I’ll stop>

Anyway, I wrote a post last week about the important of pre-planning when approaching social gatherings with food or how to stay on track during holiday meals. I’ve been contemplating something for three weeks now. There is a 5K the night before Thanksgiving called the Southern Lights Stroll. Southern Lights is something that happens at the Kentucky Horse Park here, where they put up thousands of Christmas lights and displays and you drive your car through the park to see them. At the end there are all kinds of fun family things like petting zoos, horse rides, vendors, etc. The 5K is run/walked through the horse park. So not only are you completing it at night, you’re doing it surrounded in a flurry of twinkle lights and horses that are in the fields! Fun!

via TheCulinaryGeek on Flickr

There’s another 5K the day of Thanksgiving called the Thoroughbred Classic. The past few weeks, I’ve contemplated doing both 5K’s, back to back. My reasoning: If I did 2 5K’s back to back, then I could eat “normal” on Thanksgiving.

I thought Trainer Rob would be horrified at the thought of me wanting to eat on Thanksgiving. Instead, he asked why I was doing both 5Ks. The Southern Lights Stroll I wanted to do because it sounded fun and I thought I might be able to wrangle my husband in going with me. The Thoroughbred Classic I wanted to do because I thought it would give me extra exercise in order to not feel bad about eating pumpkin pie later in the day. Not the right reason.

So what am I going to do? I’m doing the Southern Lights Stroll because I WANT to do it. Hubs is doing it with me, and some of his family might do it as well. I’m not doing the Thoroughbred Classic because it doesn’t sound fun to me (even though I’m sure it’s a great event- I’ve heard nothing but good things about it). On Thanksgiving day, I’m also going to eat some “regular” food with family. I’m planning this in advance, and for that reason, I’m not considering it a fail. Instead of “fail to plan, plan to fail” I’m actually “planning to enjoy, planning not to nose-dive into a 10 pound bag of sugar.” And because of that, I’m going go try my best not to feel guilty. At some point, I need to figure out how to make this lifestyle work for me forever, so here’s one little exercise in self-control. Moderation – something I’ve never been really good at!

Caroline over at My Fascinating Life shared her 5 point plan for staying healthy through the holidays, and her plan involves moderation as well. Check it out if you want to see how other people are approaching the holidays.

So, this being said, what is your plan? Do you have one? What about any suggestions for moderate- to fast-paced holiday music for my Southern Lights Stroll playlist?

  • Denise

    My plan is to keep my hands occupied by holding my nieces and nephews so I won’t eat so much. And maybe take a big serving of veggies and a small serving of the delicious potatoes. This is my very first meatless Thanksgiving and I’m a little scared.

  • Christi

    I recently discovered “Let’s Get it Started” by the BlackEyed Peas. I know I have heard the song before, but when it came on while I was struggling on the treadmill the other night, it really ignited a fire in me!
    I think it is great you are doing a 5k the night before Thanksgiving. I also think not doing one on Turkey day is the best choice. It’s the holiday, relax, enjoy the family. I have decided to do my first 5k ever in Febuary. This is my focus over the holiday, to stay on track with my eating and training. Another strategy I am going to try is by using a small paper plate. My thought is this: small circumference – no piling or stacking foods, paper (instead of styrofoam or regular dinner ware) because it is flimsy and if I over fill it, it will fall apart, dumping all of my food. My plan for desert is a little different. I am going to pick my favorite, cut the slice I would normally cut for myself the cut that in half. Hand one half to my husband and take the other half to a quiet place to enjoy alone. So that every bite can be an endulgence (vs. talking/chatting during desert and not really enjoying it, thus leading to another piece to get the full effect). Then Friday after all is said and done with, I am planning on adding 20-30 minutes to my work out, just to off set any guilt I may have.
    So I say enjoy your meal and have your pie. You have worked hard to get where you are, you deserve it. But you also know the struggle of getting to where you are now, I don’t think you will be as uncontrolled as you may think you will be. BTW Kristin over at has a recipe for a pumpkin moose she swears is just as good as pie! It is made with sugar free pudding, skim milk and fat free whipped topping.
    One of the things I am thankful for this year? Lucking into your blog, you have been a huge motivator and inspiration! Thank You!
    Happy Thanksgiving!

  • Emily

    When the pie arrived last week the rule of no “sweets at work” came to be. Since last Tuesday, we have had muffins, cookies, cake, and a 5 lb bag of M&Ms on hand at the office. Boy, am I glad I made that rule!

    I plan to only have pie, other home baked desserts, ON the actual holiday (Thanksgiving and Christmas). I also plan to account for the foods and drinks I want to have (mashed potatoes and wine) in my calorie counts for the day by eating a lighter breakfast and lunch and watching portions.

    I’m also not going to feel like I have to lose weight between Thanksgiving and New Year’s. If I do, great. But if I maintain, that will be ok too.

    Hopefully these plans help me avoid the holiday weight gain!

    • Emily

      Oh I am also doing a 5K the morning of Thanksgiving to get my 3 mile half-marathon training walk in.

  • Alexia@ Dimple Snatcher

    Great post, E! My plan is to have a little of everything I want. Moderation is key and reminding myself that I don’t have to eat like there’s no tomorrow. I think I’ll also survey everything so I don’t make a made dash for a heaping of this, that, & THAT!!

  • Elle

    I’m just amazed at the progress you’ve made so far. That’s simply an inspiration for me ! Esp. since I’ve been failing at my latest challenges. :-(

    Thanks for sharing your journey with us.


  • lesli

    I am doing a 5k on Thanksgiving. Not so much so I can eat whatever I want but more so I make sure I get my workout for the day in before the day gets away from me. I too plan to eat in moderation. I also have the no candy no sweets rule until thanksgiving. I am trying to limit bread also.

    I think that you are doing good.

    Please post your playlist for your run. I feel I need some new stuff. Last run I did Earth Wind and Fire. :)

  • iBirgitta

    Hi Emmie, I found this post on our DirectLife intranet site, and I think it is very interesting: YES we should excercise, BUT we should be careful afterwards, with not overindulging as a treat. Happy holidays!


    ps I love love LOVE the photos of your shrinking head. Your progress is amazing!

    Guest Coach Lisa Condie: Confessions of a Fitness Instructor – Part 1
    Posted by admin on Nov 15, 2010 in Friends, Home | 1 comment

    I see them come to class year after year. I see them pedal and run steps to nowhere in the gym…lift, kick and crunch…year after year, and yet each of them look just the same as they did when they began their “exercise program”. WHY??

    Even more than the “regulars”, I see the “drop ins”. They may drop in for a month, three months, even six…but then, they disappear. Their bodies didn’t change. The workout was hard…and no matter how perky that instructor’s voice remained, the workout was not fun. And their muscles ached. And places that they didn’t even know they had muscles, ached. And still the scale did not go down, jeans did not zip up, and motivation to exercise ran out. What went wrong??

    I am writing to tell you the “rest of the story”…the ugly mathematics of caloric expenditure. I am going to explain why exercise alone will not make you thin. By now you are probably thinking I’m a real downer…and who invited me to the party anyway?? Fear not—there is good news ahead.

    We are a population that knows, by now, that exercise is necessary for a healthy body. Most of us grasp the rudiments of weight gain and loss: energy into your body (calories) must be burned off through movement, or stored as fat. The theory is that it is possible to burn more calories than you take in, resulting in weight loss. The reality is, you must do a lot more exercise than most people realize. An hour of spinning (hard, aerobic exercise) burns off one donut. The end, that’s all. However, exercise DOES work. By understanding a few more concepts of behavior and science, you CAN make it work for you.

    The Reward System:

    In a recent study at the Pennington Biomedical Research Centre of Louisiana State University, led by Dr. Timothy Church, women were divided into four groups. For six months three of the groups had an exercise regime of varying amounts of time. The fourth group had no exercise. Food was not regulated. At the end of the study, there was no significant change in the weight of any group. In the three groups of exercisers, ALL had adjusted their food intake such that they lost no weight. They “self-rewarded” their good job at the gym. The compensated and celebrated all their hard work away.

    I Did That Already:

    We tend to vastly overestimate the caloric expenditure of our day and assume that one hour at the gym is sufficient. In a recent article from the American Council on Exercise, they describe a new type of athlete—the “couch potato athlete”. Relentless at the gym, and exhausted the rest of the day. Natural activity for the day is over. Rather than going up and down stairs, or out to the mailbox, throwing the ball for a pet, all activity stops! We “did that already”…..

    Evidence is emerging that an intense workout in the gym is actually less effective than a more gentle approach in terms of weight loss. Stay tuned…I’ll tell you all about it!

    Lisa Condie is a fitness professional of thirty years that teaches and trains in Salt Lake City, Utah. Co-owner of, personal trainer for Pilates Plus, Past President of the Utah Fitness Instructor’s Association, and fitness instructor, she continues her passion of bringing joy to movement and educating students and clients.

  • Nicole

    I think the Southern Lights 5K sounds awesome, and I think you should DEFINITELY eat some good Thanksgiving food with your family! I think one of the hardest things about weightloss is maintaining it, and it’s even harder if you’re always denying yourself the food that everyone around you is eating. In my mind, that sets you up for resentment, which in turn could cause a huge backslide. I’m trying to lose weight as well (your blog actually helps me keep motivated, so thanks), but I’m making sure that I’m not denying myself at the same time. I’m doing my best to learn moderation. As a result, my weight loss is going a bit slower, but I’ve been keeping it off (20 pounds so far!), so I feel that this is something I can do in the long-run. Your diet and exercise program needs to be sustainable as a lifestyle, and I think it’s being hard on yourself to never eat what everyone else is eating. So have a good Thanksgiving, my friend. Just keep your goals in your head as you enjoy the yummies, and you’ll be less likely to overindulge.

  • Tina @ Faith Fitness Fun

    Exercise should never be something to make up for our eating. I spent way too much time in that mindset. It’s hard to get past though, huh?

    And I think your plan sounds great. I always expect to indulge more on holidays and special occasions. I plan that I will be eating more treats and things, but try to remind myself not to OVERFILL myself to where I’m eating just to eat and not truly enjoying the food and environment.

  • Karen

    I think this is the first Thanksgiving ever that I have gone into with thoughts of moderation in my head! I am bringing a side dish that I know is healthy and also a dessert that is a healthier alternative. And hoping I don’t go crazy on all the other food there! My plan is moderate indulgence.

  • katie

    i’ve just decided to “take the day off” on thanksgiving. everything in moderation of course, but to me it’s more important to have fun with my family and not worry about calories (or points, in my case, haha). one day won’t kill everything.

    also — thank you for the heads up about the southern lights stroll!! that actually sounds really awesome! i might see ya there :)

  • Caroline Calcote

    Ahhh moderation. Why didn’t I get that gene? I’m trying, I really am. I think your plan sounds great.

  • Pia

    Hey Emmie! I actually really loved the song. The confidence thing sucks, I definitely do the same thing when I’m stressed. My research drives me crazy sometimes, but I think that what keeps me going is knowing that there is no failure, just more information thats bringing you closer to success. Recently, I read one of Murakami’s new books – what I talk about when i talk about running, and he wrote towards the beginning about the idea that suffering is optional in running. I don’t know whether this sounds weird, but I think that when I get super frustrated with my work, remembering that the suffering is optional, and that the suffering (through school) is something that I’m choosing to do to grow and better myself helps me. So yeah. Not being skinny isn’t necessarily a failure – you know so much more now about your body, and what makes you gain or lose weight! You aren’t one of these always super skinny people who never learned about that and later ended up unhealthy! Yeah, the weight loss journey sucks, but the suffering is optional, and you’re growing so much! For example, your holiday plan sounds awesome. (This is what I tell myself about my weight loss + work. If this doesn’t do it for you though, my back up plan is watching Glee and doing my nails.)

  • Sheila

    I plan on Moderation, a little exercise and enjoying the family!!!

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  • Tabitha – Just Weighing In

    well, I’m fixing Thanksgiving dinner for the first time and my family is in town staying with us so I’m definitely going to have lots of food around. I guess I plan on just eating in moderation. :)

  • Lisa

    Yep! I’ve got a plan. I’ve already planned out my exercise for the next few weeks. The bf and I made healthy choices for Thanksgiving day. I plan on working out early Thanksgiving AM and the day after when everyone’s shopping I’ll be in the pool swimming! :)

  • Bill

    Don’t cry over pumpkin pie? Why it tastes so good