The upcoming holiday season is the one time of year where even the best of us can take a serious detour from our diets.
Take Thanksgiving. You'll be hanging around the house with family and friends, surrounded by food and watching football. (Now that the NFL has added a third game in recent seasons, there's even more of an incentive to stay on the couch.) But remember this is just one day out of 365. You won't totally go off the tracks if you feast on that second (even third) piece of pumpkin pie.
A pound of fat is equal to 3,500 calories above your daily energy needs. (My daily energy needs are about 3,000 calories.) You can calculate yours here with this ACE Fitness tool. Could I eat 6,500 calories on Thursday? Sure and it might not be that difficult to do.
"Feasibly, a person could consume tens of thousands of calories," registered dietitian (and AJP Training's nutrition guru) Jayne Leonhardt says.
Let's look at a sample 3,242-calorie Thanksgiving meal broken down by The Daily Meal:
Mashed Potatoes (with Whole Milk and Butter): 237 calories per 1 cup Green Bean Casserole: 230 calories per 1 cup Candied Yams: 206 calories per 1 cup Cranberry Sauce Canned: 420 calories per 1 cup Stuffing: 350 calories per 1 cup Biscuit: 150 calories per biscuit with 36 calories per 1 pat of butter Turkey (3.5 ounces turkey) Dark meat with skin: 232 calories Turkey Gravy: 100 calories per 1 cup Brussels Sprouts: 38 calories per 1 cup Corn: 132 calories per ear; with butter: 36 Calories per 1 pat of butter Spinach: 41 calories per 1 cup Beer (Regular): Average 150 calories per bottle Generic Old Fashioned Cocktail: 155 calories per glass Reds (Burgundy): 127 calories per glass Pecan Pie: 503 calories per 1 slice (1/8 divided pie) Vanilla Ice Cream Scoop: 125 calories per 1/2 cup Whipped Cream: 15 calories per 2 tablespoons.
Looking at that, it's easy to see how you could easily double that caloric figure.
Here are some tips to have a healthier Thanksgiving:
Stay active: Most of us don't have our meals until the late afternoon. So, why not get a workout in before that? A 5k turkey trot will allow you to burn between 300-400 calories. You can come to my boot camp class at 10 a.m. on Thursday and burn between 500-700 calories, plus it's way more fun than running. Go for a walk after the meal.
Drink water throughout the day: You'll be less likely to gorge if your stomach feels more full.
Don't hammer the alcohol too hard: Beyond the empty calories, alcohol can interfere with your metabolic process. (Alcohol is broken down before food and non-alcoholic drinks.) You'll also tend to eat more.
Pick the right foods: Now, I'm not saying to bring or make some vegan dish that will make you an odd-ball at the table as others enjoy turkey. There should be a few healthy choices -- especially that turkey. (Skip the skin.) Pick beans over mashed potatoes. Corn over whatever that gelled cranberry stuff is.
Keep seconds (and thirds) to a minimum: Treat this like any other day as much as possible. It's easy to lose track of how much you're eating when you're constantly refilling your plate.
Don't get on the scale when you get home: Please, please, don't weigh yourself in the hours after your meal. You'll freak out. It will take some time for your body to process all that food and that heightened number will drop within 48 hours as your body processes all that food.
Thanksgiving can still be fun even if you adhere to all my advice. Above all else, don't feel guilty. Like I wrote earlier, this is just one day. What you do the rest of the year will have much more of a bearing on whether you'll reach your fitness goals,