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Wednesday January 16th, 2019 3:10AM

Thanksgiving a challenge to the waistline

By Mitch Clarke Editor

I’ve made no secret of my belief that the Christmas season does not officially begin until Santa Claus is spotted in Herald Square at the end of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

Thus, until the jolly ol’ elf is spotted on Thanksgiving Day, we shouldn’t start celebrating Christmas. It’s not that I’m a Grinch. I’m not. I just hate that a perfectly wonderful holiday often gets trampled in the rush to Christmas.

I hate that. Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. It’s the one time of year I get together with my extended family of aunts, uncles and cousins. This is a good thing. I know some people dread the holiday family gatherings, but my family enjoys spending time together.

It’s also the time of year where we stuff ourselves on turkey, dressing, rice, butter beans, turnip greens, sweet potato casserole and all the rest.

I prefer to pile my plate high with healthy servings of all that good food stuff, and I prefer to back for seconds. But as you know, I’m working hard now at keeping off the 50-plus pounds I lost in 2017, so the anticipating of the Thanksgiving feast is somewhat tempered.

Thanksgiving is the Super Bowl of eating. I thought everyone knew that. But gorging on all that food isn’t exactly what Chelsea the trainer had in mind when she put together my nutrition plan. 

There was a crazy woman on the "Today" show the other morning telling people how they could cut down on the number of calories they consume during their Thanksgiving dinner. I say she was crazy because (a) who in their right mind wants to cut down the number of calories they consume on Thanksgiving and (b) she said the 10 tips she offered would save you a pound of weight and if that’s all I’m going to save, it ain’t worth the effort.

The woman’s suggestions, to be truthful, do make some sense. And they probably would work great during the rest of the year. But they make no sense on Thanksgiving, a holiday built around large family feasts.

For instance, she suggests that you use a tablespoon instead of a large serving spoon to create built-in portion control.

I see how that would work on a per-scoop basis. But I'm no idiot. I'll simply scoop more dressing with the tablespoon until I had the same amount as I normally would. I'm not aware that my cousin Sally has instituted a scoop limit on Thanksgiving dinner, and, honestly, I plan on ignoring it if she has.

I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished with Chelsea’s guidance. I do eat a lot smarter and a lot healthier now, even on those crazy tailgating Saturdays in Athens. And I certainly exercise more than I ever did before Chelsea.

The truth is, pigging out on Thanksgiving actually has Chelsea’s blessing. One of the best lessons she’s taught me is that I should indulge occasionally. 

“That’s why you’re working so hard,” she often tells me. So that I can eat what I want at the tailgate. And at the Thanksgiving dinner table.

So I’m being particularly good in the few days before Thanksgiving. I’m sticking closely to the food plan she developed for me, and I’m hitting gym as often as possible, even going to far as to get on the elliptical, the instrument of torture that it is.

And I look forward to piling my plate high with all the good food that my family has made. Probably even go back for seconds.

After all, it’s Chelsea approved. 

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