Here is a day-by-day guide to how you can actually lose some weight during Thanksgiving week. To begin, you need to plan to spend a full week away from home. The first half of this week should be spent where you went to college. The justification for this visit is to get some work done with former advisors from graduate school. The real reason is to visit friends from college, and tailgate for a football game. The second half of the week should be spent with family, celebrating the holiday.
Plan to get up early to pack and be ready to hit the road at 8 am. Actually get on the road at 9 am. Oh yeah, you should bring your mountain bike and gear, because halfway through the drive you are going to stop and ride it on some trails for about 3 hours with someone else who is meeting you. This person should forget their helmet, wear long underwear under their bike shorts (this only looks slightly more ridiculous than tights under bibs), and take a few entertaining spills because they just started clipping in.
After the ride, quickly change clothes in the parking lot so as not to get mud all over your car seats. Then finish up the second half of the drive, arriving at some friends' apartment in the early evening. Proceed to the local brewery and order an appetizer, entree, and a number of beers. Consume them, and then take the bus back to the apartment to sleep on their couch.
Get up at the crack of 9 am for a "work day" that will involve walking around the building you used to have an office in on campus to bump into old friends. Make some appointments to get some actual work done with people on Monday. Go to lunch with a friend at a bbq restaurant and order a lot of food followed by one of their signature ice cream sundaes. It is, after all, a special occassion.
Then head back to the apartment and go for a 4 mile run around campus. Look jealously at the students while they look back at you wondering who the weird old guy is staring at them in running tights. After the run, head back to the apartment to shower up for dinner at your advisor's house (Note: it helps if you drop hints that you will be in town a few weeks beforehand so that this dinner party can be planned).
Arrive at dinner fashionably late and be handed a glass filled with beer before you even have a chance to take your coat off. Eat some salad, followed by two large bowls of the cassoulet that they serve (which was made with twice as much bacon as the recipe calls for). Also, you should drink at least a bottle of wine. Probably closer to two. Then get a ride home with your friends. The wife will volunteer to drive, which is convenient. Before leaving, make plans to join one of the assistant professors in your old department for some mountain bike riding, tentatively at 8 am the next morning.
Wake up at 7:30 am with a fairly wicked wine hangover. Go back to sleep until 8:30, then wake up and call the person you were supposed to pick up at 8 and tell them you are going to be an hour late. Don't worry, they won't mind because they will also have a wine hangover and probably would have preferred you just forgot about the bike ride altogether.
On way to pick up the friend, stop at a gas station to buy some Vitamin Water and a protein bar. After picking up the friend, you should hit the trails for a few hours. You will quickly realize just a few minutes into the ride that mountain biking requires more balance than someone who drank a lot of wine the night before may have. After suffering through the first 20 minutes the effects of the wine will be gone and you will really start enjoying yourself. Until your feet get wet and proceed to remind you (painfully) that it is below freezing and windy.
After the ride the two of you should go out to eat, preferably somewhere that serves very good and large sandwiches. Again, it is a special occassion. After inhaling the sandwich, drop the friend off and head back to the apartment to get ready for some tailgating. Don't forget to make a stop at the grocery store for some beer, chips, beef jerkey, and cookies (your friends are bringing burgers and brats).
Spend the remainder of the afternoon tailgating with old friends. And by tailgating, I mean drinking beer and eating food while talking about the good old days when you were all younger, thinner, and better looking (yet, still had about the same luck with the ladies). Old people get cold easy, so after much debate you should decide to watch the game at a local bar or restaurant rather than in the actual stadium.
In addition to watching the game, you and your friends should vow to "tear it up" in your old stomping grounds. Unfortunately, you are old and most of the students have gone home for Thanksgiving break. After bouncing around to a couple of the old place you used to hang out (which just don't feel the same anymore - the smell of stale beer and urine is not as sweet when you are 30 years old), you decide on a bar that has exactly one of the person in it. Luckily, this person is the bartender and an attractive female who is bored and willing to give you deep discounts (in some cases full discounts) on drinks and shots. You will once again be reminded how old and pathetic you are when everyone starts yawning and talking about hitting the road to get home by 11 pm. Retire to your friends' apartment for night 3 on the couch.
On Sunday you have a late morning/early afternoon bike ride planned with a bunch of people in your old department. After waking up to light rain and 35 degrees, the bunch quickly dwindles to 3 brave souls. Ride 25 miles on one of central Iowa's new bike paths between Slater and Woodward. On the trail, which is a converted rail line, you will cross a magnificent bridge across the Des Moines river which must have cost millions. Thank you stimulus money. By the end of the ride you actually weight 5 lbs more than when you left, most of which will be in your feet as your socks will be very wet. And heavy. And cold. Luckily the wind is with you on they way back.
After the ride you join the old advisor who hosted you for dinner on Friday night and joined you for the ride today for a late lunch at his house. A bowl of leftover cassoulet, 1/3 of a loaf of fresh whole-grain bread, and two glasses of scotch later you return to the apartment, change, and head out to your friends' acreage that they are currently fixing up.
Spend some time spreading mulch around the yard with their 4 year old (only later finding out that said 4 year old has been told repeatedly not to do this, and you just reinforced something that they had been trying to get him to stop doing). Finish the day off at their apartment with some pork parmesan, broiled asparagus, and garlic bread. And more wine. And a port nightcap. Night 4 on the couch.
Part II tomorrow, or the next day, or whenever I get around to writing it.