Your Post-Thanksgiving Body and You: How to Burn Off Those Excess Holiday Calories

“I gotta get in shape. Too much sitting has ruined my body. Too much abuse has gone on for too long. From now on there will be 50 pushups each morning, 50 pullups. There will be no more pills, no more bad food, no more destroyers of my body. From now on will be total organization. Every muscle must be tight.”

Thanksgiving is a necessary evil, but what’s really bad is the rest of the weekend. Thursday’s big meal and Friday’s leftovers can add up to a whole weekend of lethargy. Especially if you’re staying with family, Thanksgiving means days and days of sitting around, talking, and watching classic Hollywood movies—an inconvenient disruption to the routines which give us a feeling of control over our lives. It can be a real challenge to ward off those extra holiday pounds, and with them self-loathing, and a vague awareness of death.

Here’s a few great exercises you can do at home to shake off sluggishness and jump right back into healthy habits, keeping your body taut and eerily perfect.

1. Burpees
Start in a standing position. Drop down into a squat, with your palms on the ground even with your shoulders; extend your legs behind you to orient yourself in push-up position; do one push-up before returning to a squat; then jump up, as high as you can. This is a great full-body exercise that immediately elevates your heart rate. Keep going until you feel faint, almost delirious.

2. Watch Brigadoon and dance along with Gene Kelly during “It’s Almost Like Being in Love”
Doing a Gene Kelly dance routine in your own living room isn’t just the only pleasure available to you in this vale of tears, it’s a wonderful aerobic workout. Kelly’s singularly athletic dancing will engage the muscles of your lower body while also toning your arms and working the core. And Vincente Minnelli’s film of the Broadway smash hit Brigadoon discovers a heart of unearthly longing within the fanciful story about a Scottish village that appears just once every hundred years.

3. Crossword puzzles
Crossword puzzles are a great way to exercise your brain. For an extra challenge, try the UK-style “Cryptic Crosswords,” involving longer clues, more wordplay, and a grid with more blank spaces—none of that training yourself to recognize when the puzzle-setter has backed into sticking “SST” into a down corner and Will Shortz is passing up the opportunity, for the 144th time running, to make a Black Flag reference, jesus, would it kill you just once not to make it about the planes.

4. Sleep
If you’re sleeping, you’re not eating, and your body is burning into your reserve calories while it keeps your liver running and shit. Later on in Thanksgiving weekend—say, Saturday, maybe—try staying in bed all day, curled up with a good book. Keep a glass of water and a bottle of 10mg Melatonin tablets by your bed, and take one whenever you feel hungry or antsy. You’ll be amazed at the results!

5. Cry
The human body is 60% water. If you weigh 150 pounds, that’s… fuck, that’s a lot of water—and a lot of weight you can potentially lose. Don’t you feel disgusted, thinking about all that excess weight in your body? Doesn’t it feel good to imagine it just flowing away? Mmm. Think about your triggers, and try to engage them. Honeydew Morgenbladet, a yogi at Greenpoint’s Hey Boo-Boo Studios, says: “I keep a second Instagram account just of feeds that I can rely on to get the waterworks going: pictures of dogs up for adoption at kill shelters, Humans of New York, that kind of thing.”

Tip: Weigh your tears after each set. Try to increase your output by 5% each day—but remember that a leap of more than 15% can be dangerous.

6. Write a letter
Look through your Facebook feed. Find someone on there whose company you really did used to enjoy, who you never talk to anymore. Someone you’re curious about. A cousin, someone from high school or college, an old office buddy. Maybe you like each other’s statuses, but nothing more. Don’t you miss them? Sit down and write them a letter. Tell them what you’ve been up to; what your plans are, your goals. Tell them about the new people in your life they’ve never met but would love if they ever did. Ask them whether they’re still pursuing the interests that distinguished them in your mind. About mutual friends you’ve lost touch with. Ask them whether they’re happy. Ask yourself the same question.

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