Everyone is entitled to enjoy a little holiday excess, even when it comes in the form of heaps of buttery mashed potatoes, double servings of pie and wine, and sleeping in late. The key, though, is not to let a day’s exuberance snowball into the rest of your week, month, and holiday season—and derail your end-of-year health and fitness goals in the process.
“My clients are always trying to figure out the Thanksgiving workout week,” says Florida-based equestrian personal trainer Mike Barthelemy. “On a short training week like Thanksgiving, you want to burn as many calories from fat as possible, and also keep on a clean and lean diet if you can.”
Here, Mike shares five tips for ‘getting back on the fitness horse’ post-holiday.
1. Drink plenty of water.
Water plays an important role in the human life, especially for the riders right now and during the winter months in Wellington, Florida who train all day long in the sun. I would recommend drinking up to 1 gallon or more a day. Water is important for athletes because your body uses it in all its cells and tissues to help regulate your temperature and other bodily functions. Drinking enough, especially during workouts, is important since the body loses water while riding through sweating, breathing, etc.
2. Don’t double up on your workouts—consistency is key.
A lot of people double-up or go extra hard in their workouts after a big holiday. In my opinion, though, it’s better to take care of your body. If you don’t train with care, then your body won’t respond to your workouts if you try to push it beyond its limit each day. Instead of doubling up on your sessions, be consistent with your workout and efficient, which will keep you conditioned and prepared not just for the holiday, but all week long as well.
3. For post-holiday workouts, stick to the basics.
After an amazing dinner and great drinks with some friends and family, here are three gym exercises that will help you get back on track:
- Off-Set Dumbbell Squats: Complete 4 sets of 20. Offset means holding a dumbbell (choose a weight that’s comfortable for you) and put it on one shoulder, leaving the other side free of weight, and complete your squats. Then, switch the weight to the other shoulder and repeat.
- Side Plank & Row (you’ll need a cable machine): 4 sets of 30 seconds in plank, then 15 reps for 30 seconds each of rows. For the rows, lower the pulley on the cable machine down only a foot away from the ground.
- Jumping Jacks: A classic! Complete 4 sets of 150 reps.
4. Don’t starve yourself post-holiday: follow a simple, moderate diet instead.
After a big holiday like Thanksgiving, I would recommend eating four to six small meals a day. Each meal should have one source of protein. For instance, 6 oz of grilled chicken with asparagus, or 6 oz of white fish with broccoli. Choose snacks like grapefruit, etc. This is important because your body needs some confusions in its routine, especially after Thanksgiving. Cleaning your eating habits after the holiday will help to support your workouts and get back on your daily routine.
5. Don’t stress out about your “splurge day”.
I don’t think people should be worried about a “splurge day” as it’s more of a mind thing than anything else. Do top NFL teams like the Vikings or Patriots worry about getting lazy after a bye week? No, they don’t, because their health and the way they perform is critical. I really think that top pro and Olympic-level riders – or even young riders trying to get to the top in equestrian sports – should have the same mindset. A Thanksgiving splurge day is like a Sunday or a Monday in the horse world. Right after that day, you get back on the horse, get back in the gym, and get back in the kitchen, cooking healthy. Keep the same consistency you had before Thanksgiving and everything should be back to normal, especially if you, the rider, are motivated to be better and to up your game on and off the horse.
Mikerlange H. Barthelemy was born and raised in Haiti. With a passion for fitness and health, he is a three-time Men’s Physique National qualifier and is certified in both Functional Fitness Training and Personal Training. “I am a people person, a motivator, and a mentor,” Mike says. “Deep down, while I am a serious professional, I am simply a young kid from Haiti trying to be the best I can be and help others achieve their dreams. That’s what gets me up every day and why I do what I do.” Mike will be opening a training facility in Wellington, Fla. this winter to assist the development of elite equestrian athletes. Learn more about Mike on Get Fit Match, or follow him on Facebook or Instagram.
Photos by Tori Repole.
Written by Nina Fedrizzi
Nina Fedrizzi spends her days writing about horse sport, food, and travel. She began her career at Travel + Leisure and is a former editor at NF Style. When she's not tapping away on her MacBook, Nina can usually be found on a horse, sleuthing out the local pho, or refusing to unpack her carry-on. Watch her do all three on Instagram @ninafedrizzi.