It’s funny how giving thanks has become synonymous with gluttonous indulgence and consequent self-loathing. In its purest form, Thanksgiving, a thoroughly American holiday, was conceived as a way to share your plenty with others and celebrate prosperity and the good fortune that has befallen you throughout the year. It was never intended to be a carb-laden holiday of excess that leaves you comatose and incapable of lifting a finger for yourself or for your fellow man. But much like many things in America, Thanksgiving has become all about being bigger–the meals are eight courses instead of three, the sales go on for miles, and as a result, our waistlines often start correspond after the yearly fracas. Core Fitness has some ideas on how to take Thanksgiving back to its original purpose, honoring your body and your life as you move forward through the holidays to a new year.

When you prepare to eat your meal, think about using the time as a way to savor each other’s company as well as the food you’re about to enjoy together. If you start off with smaller portions and take your time to eat, you’ll be surprised by how much less you’ll feel you need. Simply taking the time to talk to each other and share stories throughout your meal can help you reduce your calorie count. The human body takes between 10 and 20 minutes to send the signal back to your brain that your full, allowing it to identify natural spike in your blood insulin as you begin to digest. It’s a holiday, there’s no rush, and the food’s not going anywhere. Take your time!

Consider going out for a walk after your meal, or even playing a game together as a family. Take a cue from all those footballers on television. They’re not sitting down, and neither should you–at least not all day. Getting even a small amount of physical activity helps your blood start pumping and kickstarts your metabolism so that you won’t feel that heavy “thud” in the pit of your stomach late into the afternoon. You can even think about saving dessert for after a game of touch football, when you know you’ll really deserve it.

As you’re planning your meal, think about balance. Maybe it’s best not to make seven different varieties of carb. Any meal, even a special one, should be well-rounded. That means having the right ratio of proteins, vegetables, and carbohydrates to keep yourself healthy. In other words, don’t even tempt yourself with a cornucopia full of mac ‘n’ cheese, cornbread, stuffing, rolls and pie. It’s fine to indulge a little, but don’t give yourself permission to leave the controls completely.

Healthy eating habits should continue year-round, not just begin on a dreary January day and end sometime shortly before Halloween. Let’s face it: if you’re using the excuse that “it’s a holiday,” you’ll be dealing with non-stop free-for-alls for the next two months. And as we all know, it’s easier to keep it off than take it off. During this difficult and tempting season, it’s easy to snack, simply because somebody brought a treat into work, or a neighbor thoughtfully made you some cookies. That stuff still counts. If you’re really having trouble, you can always download a calorie-counter app for your phone, so thatyou can stay on top of things as they happen.

Core Fitness of Myrtle Beach is open year-round to help you stay fit. Don’t drop your routine just because things have become hectic. Having structure and support are the two best ways to keep yourself on task. And if you’re getting bored or want to give yourself a break, simply try a new class. Core offers a variety of programs that let you change things up, even when the leftovers are getting stale.