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3 Day Thanksgiving Recovery

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday of the year, mainly for the reason that its centered around eating.  As a matter of fact, any holiday that the intended purpose is to eat, is my favorite, because I LOVE to eat.  The number of extra fixings that are put into each dish on a Thanksgiving Day table are drool worthy.  Marshmallow on my sweet potatoes? Yes, please! Unfortunately, one of my greatest talents is also my biggest downfall while trying to maintain an athletic look to my physique.  Let’s just say that I’ve been known to get a little “fluffy” during November.  Over the years of notoriously eating excessive amounts on this particular day of the year, I’ve developed a three-day recovery plan to help me regain control of my gluttonous self after Turkey Day.

Day 1


To do:

  • 1.5 gallons of water
  • NO complex carbohydrates
  • Steady state cardio for days…

For me, eating so much food that is outside of my normal diet all on one day leaves my body in disarray.  I tend to retain excess fluid that makes my joints ache, my feet, hands and ankles become swollen and my stomach has a persistent bloat with zero appetite.  Although it seems counterintuitive, the first step in combatting the Thanksgiving aftermath is drinking about a gallon and a half of water.  The extra half gallon helps to start draining the retained water from the higher than normal sodium consumption.  A useful trick to drinking all of that extra water is adding flavored magnesium and electrolytes – two great supplements that help my body improve circulation and decrease swelling. 

Speaking of circulation, it’s good to get the body moving even though it’s painful.  I get my butt to the gym to sweat it out!  Cardio gets the heart pumping, the blood moving and helps me get an overall feeling of wellness again.  The minimum should be 45 minutes of steady state cardio, but if I’m feeling a little frisky, I’ll go the entire hour.  My body thanks me in the morning for avoiding the weights and sticking to the treadmill!  My food usually gets forced down the day after turkey day, but it’s a must.  To combat the bloat, I strip all complex carbohydrates, while adding extra fibrous veggies and consume more berries (antioxidants for health!).  This helps because I eat less food (food I don’t want anyway), but still get an acceptable amount of nutrition for the day.

Day 2


To do:

  • One gallon of water
  • ½ the normal amount of complex carbohydrates
  • Light weight, high rep workout
  • Steady state cardio or HIIT

Although the first day helps immensely and my body is feeling way better, I’m still not feeling 100% normal.  Because most of the painful swelling subsides, my water consumption goes back to the normal gallon of water per day to maintain hydration.  But, lifting and eating still do not return to normal.  I find that a gradual shift back to my every day gym activity and caloric intake makes an easier transition from the state of shock my body goes into after thanksgiving.  I add about half of my normal complex carbohydrate intake back into my day and I welcome the idea of still eating less food because the bloated overfull feeling usually hasn’t completely gone away.  The aches and pains that I feel beg me to stay away from weights, but pushing myself has a greater payoff. 

I start with a steady state cardio warm-up for about twenty minutes to help get the heart going and the muscles warmed up.  I progress to either body weight and/or resistance bands or light weight and high repetition exercises for the entire body.  To burn more calories and increase circulation, I finish the workout with twenty minutes of steady state cardio or, if I’m feeling up to it, ten to fifteen minutes of HIIT.  Nothing too dramatic or rigorous, this workout shouldn’t require more than 60% -75% of your full effort.  I walk out of the gym with a feel-good body pump that looks and feels a whole lot better than the turkey bloat I walked in with!

Day 3


To do:

  • One gallon of water
  • ¾ the normal amount of complex carbohydrates
  • Two-a-day at the gym – morning fasted cardio & evening weights plus HIIT

I complete my thanksgiving transformation back to normality by really killing it at the gym.  For some reason, morning fasted cardio really does the trick to alleviate any lingering swelling and achiness.  My diet is almost back to normal and my body mostly resembles my daily norm.  At times I’ve still experienced some bloating and lack of appetited, but the increase in activity generally does the trick to increase my hunger.  With the swelling and uncomfortableness mostly behind me, I do a short five minute cardio warmup and get into moderate lifting of a muscle group from the normal weekly split for the evening of Day 3.  Essentially, I start my weekly split two days after I normally would to help my body work away my dieting sins.  To really end the night on a high note, I do variations, but finish with…


30 second sprint – hop off 10 burpees 
30 second sprint – hop off 10 jump squats 
30 second sprint – hop off 10 push ups
30 second sprint – hop off 10 frog hops
30 second sprint – hop off 10 split lunges


1/10th mile run on the minute (fast pace run for .1 of a mile and the remainder of the minute walk) 
10 burpees 
10 (per leg) mountain climbers

  • Sit down and try to recover like a lady

Although my 3-day fixer upper works for my Thanksgiving Day binge eating, it might need some tweaking for someone else.  Play with the amount of carbs or try drinking more water for the second day too.  Basically, start with what works for me and make changes to develop your own 3-day tactics of recovery.  Be well and happy eating!

Need holiday survival ideas? Follow @sammiegirl_fitness for more workouts and healthy recipes

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