Is Your Body Ready for Black Friday? A Health Checklist

Jennifer L. Nelson

Just about 24 hours left 'til the biggest shopping day of the year. Are you prepared?

Black Friday's hordes of stampeding shoppers combined with early morning grogginess and lingering Thanksgiving hangovers can be a recipe for disaster. When you're focused on survival -- and anyone who has gone bargain hunting the day after Thanksgiving knows I'm not exaggerating -- it's all too easy to surrender to that greasy Egg McMuffin as you head to Kohl's at three in the morning (where I'll be!), or a thick chocolate milkshake from Baskin-Robbins when your energy plummets at 10:30 a.m.

Last year I found myself at a country-style buffet for brunch, where I proceeded to gorge myself on bacon, eggs, and hash browns. I was exhausted from seven hours of stressful shopping, and felt powerless to resist.

That's why we all need a Black Friday survival plan ... especially those of us who are trying to hop back on the weight loss bandwagon after Thanksgiving's caloric free-for-all.

The holiday is officially over, and it won't strengthen your resolve to get back on track if you drown your stress over nabbing a $200 flat screen for your hubby or that in-demand toy your kids just-have-to-have-or-they'll-die in greasy mall food court delicacies. Let's get started:

1. Know what you want.

It's foolish to rise at 2:30 a.m. on Friday and have absolutely no idea where you're going. By then all of us Frugal Frannys have already staked out our spot in line at the top retailers, which only offer a limited supply of their hottest holiday wares. Check out Black Friday sale compilation websites like to draft a game plan, and don't forget to bring along your 'naughty' and 'nice' list; if you want to make out like a bandit at Toys 'R Us -- and avoid being trampled in the video game aisle -- you need to get in and out as quickly as possible. A prepared shopping list can also save you a wad of cash on impulse buys and fend off buyer's remorse bingeing on M&Ms at check-out.

2. Power up.

As tempting as it is to grab fast food on-the-go when you're pressed for time, we all know what happens when we opt for a gargantuan chocolate-chip muffin over a bowl of Kashi. You wouldn't prep for a marathon with a jelly donut, would you? In order to sustain your energy (and sanity) on Friday, leave a little extra time to fuel up with a proper breakfast. You're also going to need to nosh on a healthy mix of protein and carbs throughout the day to keep yourself from keeling over when you're juggling gifts for everyone on your list. Stuff your purse with nuts, granola bars, wheat crackers, part-skim string cheese, or dry high-fiber cereal. Don't forget an extra bottle of water to help you stay hydrated.

3.) Limber up.

Have you seen those Target commercials starring a crazy woman pulling a shopping cart up a hill like a sleigh, or bicep curling baskets stuffed with gifts? She has exactly the right idea. Don't underestimate the test of endurance that is Black Friday: racing your fellow bargain hunters to the best holiday gifts, lugging heavy bags around the mall, and balancing your goodies in never-ending lines is no easy feat. Warm up before you head out into the cold by doing a couple quick yoga poses or your usual pre-running stretches, and squeeze in some stretching while you're standing in line or before you hop in the car to hit the next store. Your neck, shoulders, and back will thank you.

4.) Dress for the occasion.

 It may sound like a no-brainer, but I can't tell you how many women I've seen attempting to run around retail stores on Black Friday in heeled boots. This is not the time for fashion, ladies. Slip on broken-in sneakers, your coziest sweatpants, and wear light layers on top. Consider wearing a puffer vest or a less bulky coat over your clothes; you'll be going in and out between nippy morning temperatures and heated stores, and it's not easy hauling around a parka fit for an Eskimo with all of your intended purchases once inside.

5.) Make it a Cyber Friday.

When you're officially ready to pass about, head back home, climb into bed with your laptop, and surf the 'net for bargains: an infinitely less stressful shopping experience. Most major retailers offer the same prices on most merchandise you'd find in-store -- especially during "early bird" or "power hour" specials -- and you can usually find free or discounted deals on shipping.

What are some of your Black Friday survival tips?


Image via Flickr/Lululemon Athletica

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