Honor your commitment to a lifestyle change without ruffling feathers.

Celebrity nutrition and fitness expert Jorge Cruise knows firsthand how challenging it is to make a change—and a commitment to a healthier you—at a time of year when loved ones expect you to honor family rituals and routines. He answered some of 24Life readers’ most pressing questions of the season.

Q: I love Thanksgiving, but I am newly committed to a vegetarian lifestyle. What menu can I serve to honor the holiday but honor my commitment to not eat meat?

Jorge Cruise: Luckily, there are many recipes available for fantastic meatless options and an abundance of wonderful ingredients to honor your commitment and still feel festive. Stuffed butternut squash makes a beautiful spotlight for a main dish, and the possibilities are endless to make the dish your star. Pick your favorite flavors, and don’t be afraid to try new combinations.  For another alternative, adapt your favorite family recipes by making any needed substitutions and get creative.

Q: I am getting more fit, but my friends are not. What should I do?

JC: Invite them to join you for some fun activities. Playing a game of football, trying a workout class like Zumba or going for a bike ride is a start to fitness. Exercise boosts serotonin, so there is a good chance they will enjoy it and want to keep trying new activities. Keep encouraging your friends, and don’t let them discourage your track to fitness.

Q: I’m ridiculously shy but want to take group classes because they seem like they would help me get into shape faster—any advice?

JC: Group classes can feel intimidating, but don’t be fooled. Everyone is there for the same reasons, and it’s surprising how motivating and welcoming that kind of environment can be. If a studio doesn’t feel like the right fit, try somewhere new.

Q: What is your favorite vegetarian dish (or full menu) for Thanksgiving?

JC: My mouth is watering already! Pumpernickel, apple and shallot stuffed butternut squash with creamy mashed cauliflower, orange zest cranberry sauce and lemon garlic green beans sound pretty amazing to me.

Photography: Tom Casey, box24studio.com