Holiday Eating Damage Control

 

By Rick Morris

 

The holiday season reminds me a lot of the “Star Wars” series of movies.  There is a very good side to the season with all of the parties, gift giving, meeting new friends and getting together with family. But along with the good side is a “dark side” that we all go over to during the holiday season. That “dark side” is all of the excess calories that we consume. Holiday eating isn’t all on the dark side. There is great enjoyment in savoring all of the holiday flavors and cuisines. But, there comes a day of reckoning. That is where the dark side comes in. The indulgence in excessive eating comes with a price. We pay that price in added pounds that seem to find their way directly to our hips and waist.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There is good news. It takes around 3500 excess calories to add one pound of fat to your body. That is a lot of calories.  The bad news is that many holiday meals are huge.  For instance, a typical Thanksgiving meal of turkey, gravy, sweet potato, cornbread stuffing, rolls, vegetables and pumpkin pie will usually total between 3,000 to 4,000 calories. Unless you are eating your dinner on an exercise bike, you are looking at putting on nearly a pound in just one meal.

 

The calorie content of these holiday meals can be very high, but they do not have to spell disaster for your waistline. Even if you put on a pound or two during the holiday season, you are not going to blow up like a balloon although you may feel like you are after stuffing yourself. By carefully managing your exercise levels during the holidays and the weeks leading up to the extravagant meals you can control the damage done to your weight and body fat levels.

 

Damage Control Methods

 

Your best friend in controlling your weight during the holiday season is your treadmill. Working out on the treadmill is the most efficient way of burning calories available to you. Walking or running on the treadmill at 1 percent elevation burns approximately 110 calories per mile. This will vary slightly depending upon your weight, how fast you are walking or running and how efficient you are at the exercise. But 110 calories per mile is usually a fairly accurate estimate for most users. Running outside on level ground also burns about 110 calories per mile. The treadmill should be set on 1 percent elevation to offset the lack of wind resistance and the assistance that the moving treadmill belt gives you. This makes treadmill running equal to running outside on level ground.

 

There are two strategies in holiday damage control. One is preemptive and the other is reactive. If you want to keep the damage to a minimum, I would suggest using both methods.

 

Preemptive Damage Control

 

The key to preemptive damage control is planning ahead. During the holiday season you should increase both the quantity and quality of your exercise. This is like putting money or “burned calories” in the bank. If you are planning on eating a large holiday meal in the 3500 calorie range, increase your calorie burn by about 500 calories per day for the 7 days leading up to your meal. You are in effect, losing the weight before you put it on. The net result will be zero weight gain and you will be able to enjoy a guilt free feeding frenzy!

 

Here is a sample preemptive workout schedule for a 3500 calorie holiday meal.

 

7 Days to Mealtime

 

Set the treadmill elevation at 1 percent. Run for one mile at your typical easy run pace. Slow to a brisk walking pace for ¼ mile. Repeat this sequence of one mile of running and ¼ mile of walking for a total of 4 sets.

Workout Distance – 5 miles

Approximate Calories Burned – 550

 

6 Days to Mealtime

 

Set the treadmill elevation at 1 percent. Run for one mile at your easy pace. Increase the elevation to 2 percent and run for 1 more mile. Raise the elevation to 3 percent and run for ½ mile. Then increase the elevation to 4 percent and run for ½ mile. Decrease the elevation to 2 percent and run for ½ mile. Now increase the elevation to 5 percent and run for ¼ mile before decreasing the elevation back to 2 percent for ½ mile.

Workout Distance – 4.25 miles

Approximate Calories Burned – 560

 

5 Days to Mealtime

 

Set the elevation at 1 percent and run for 2 miles at your easy pace. Slow down to a brisk walking pace for ½ mile and then speed back up to your easy running pace for 2 more miles.

Workout Distance – 4.5 miles

Approximate Calories Burned – 495

 

4 Days to Mealtime

 

Set the treadmill elevation to 1 percent. Run at your easy pace for 1 mile. Increase the pace of the treadmill by 30 seconds per mile and run for ½ mile. Slow down to a brisk walking pace for ½ mile. Speed up to 45 seconds per mile faster than your easy pace and run for ½ mile. Slow down to a brisk walking pace for ½ mile. Now speed up to 1 minute per mile faster than your normal easy run pace for ½ mile. Slow down to a brisk walking pace for ½ mile. Speed up to your normal easy run pace and run for 1 mile.

Workout Distance – 5 miles

Approximate Calories Burned – 550

 

3 Days to Mealtime

 

Set the treadmill elevation to 1 percent. Run at your easy pace for 2 miles. Increase the elevation to 3 percent and run for 1 mile. Then increase the elevation to 5 percent and run for one more mile. Cool down with ½ mile at 1 percent elevation.

Workout Distance – 4.5 miles

Approximate Calories Burned – 595

 

2 Days to Mealtime

 

Set the elevation at 1 percent and run for 3 miles at your easy pace. Slow down to a brisk walking pace for ½ mile. Then speed up to your easy run pace for 1 mile.

Workout Distance – 4.5

Approximate Calories Burned – 495

 

1 Day to Mealtime

 

Set the treadmill elevation at 1 percent. Run at your easy pace for 1 mile. Then speed up to one minute per mile faster than your normal easy pace for ½ mile. Repeat this sequence for a total of three sets.

Workout Distance – 4.5

Approximate Calories Burned – 495

 

Meal Day

 

Set the treadmill elevation at 1 percent. Run at your easy pace for 5 miles.

Workout Distance – 5 miles

Approximate Calories Burned – 550

 

Total miles for the week – 32.75

Approximate Calories Burned for the week – 3,795

At the end of this preemptive program you have already burned off your meal and as a side benefit, you have improved your fitness and endurance levels.

 

Reactive Damage Control

 

Your main holiday meal is not the only source of excess calories. What about the extra piece of pie or the late night leftover snacks? Don’t forget about the glasses of egg nog or the chocolate chip cookies you munched on. These are food items that we all end up consuming during the holidays. They are hard to resist and we sometimes eat them without even thinking about it. No worries! These unplanned “sneaky” calories can be taken care of after the fact. This is called reactive damage control. Use one of the following workouts to reduce the potential damage to your waistline.

 

The Egg Nog Eater

 

One 8 ounce glass of regular egg nog contains approximately 340 calories. You must run or walk over 3 miles on level ground to burn off one serving of egg nog. This knowledge alone may convince you to go easy on the egg nog. If you could not resist this holiday treat, here is a hill workout that will quickly burn off one 8 ounce serving of the delicious brew.

 

Set your treadmill elevation at 2 percent and run at your easy pace for ½ mile. Increase the elevation to 4 percent and run for ½ mile. Then increase the elevation to 6 percent and run for another ½ mile at an easy pace. Now decrease the elevation to 2 percent and run for ½ mile at one minute per mile faster than your normal easy pace. Cool down with ¼ mile at an easy pace.

 

Workout Distance – 2.25 Miles

Approximate Calories Burned – 340 Calories

 

Pumpkin Pie Destroyer

 

This is a holiday food we just cannot resist. But, try to limit yourself to one piece. A typical slice of pumpkin pie contains about 320 calories. That means 3 miles of running to burn this snack off. This workout incorporates a long, moderate hill run to cut down on the mileage required to burn off the pie.

 

Set your treadmill elevation at 2 percent and run at your easy pace for ½ mile. Now increase the elevation to 5 percent and run for 1.25 miles. Decrease the elevation to 2 percent and run for ¼ mile to cool down.

 

Workout Distance – 2 Miles

Approximate Calories Burned – 325

 

Leftover Gobbler

 

Is there anyone out there that does not raid the refrigerator for a left over turkey sandwich? It is a holiday tradition. A turkey sandwich containing 3 ounces of roast turkey and two slices of whole wheat bread has around 335 calories. That is assuming you do not add any butter, margarine or mayonnaise. One tablespoon of margarine or mayo will add about 100 calories or one more mile of running to your grand total.  Use this simple workout to rid yourself of these leftover calories.

 

Set your treadmill elevation at 2 percent. Run at your normal easy run pace for 3 miles.

Workout Distance – 3 miles

Approximate Calories Burned - 330

 

 

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