Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Holiday Survival Guide

Okay, I got a great question over the weekend from a client who listened to the nutrition webcast Thursday of last week. She asked:

Q: I saw a commercial that said the average Thanksgiving meal would take 20 miles of running to burn off the calories. Is this true? How could it be? That would be equivalent to a whole month of working out.

A: Fantastic question, which starts off our Holiday Survival Guide this week. First of all, we burn A LOT more calories in a month of working compared to running 20 miles. Running works the heart rate, our training not only makes your heart work at intense levels, but also requires multiple muscles to work simultaneously against resistance. So, you burn A LOT more calories! And I hate to disappoint you and everyone else, but to be honest, an "average" Thanksgiving meal would actually be more like 40 miles of running...just to break even!!

Yes, it's true. It is suggested that on average, Americans consume approximately 4000 calories at the Thanksgiving table - between appetizers, dinner, dessert, alcohol, seconds, thirds, etc! You burn approximately 100 calories per mile when running (variables include pace and size of the runner), so that means 1 1/2 marathons later, you'll be at square one. See what we mean when we say you can easily "out eat your exercise?"

First, here's how to take Thanksgiving on head first. First, PLAN AHEAD!

Remember, Thanksgiving is always on the 4th Thursday in November, so don't tell us it "just snuck up on you" like we so often hear.

Planning ahead means getting some exercise in that morning! Plan to participate in the annual Thanksgiving Day Race (you can run or walk…or even a combination of both) before the big meal! I know several clients will be out there doing it next Thursday. You all can meet as a group and enjoy the great company. If you would like to join in the fun and burn up some calories, send an email and we'll have Leigh organize a group walk/run that morning.

Click here to learn more about the 99th Annual Thanksgiving Day Race

Next, think of a plan of attack. If you're cooking, check out some healthier recipes. Eating Well and Clean Eating both have great Thanksgiving menus to try - without sacrificing taste. And I’m not suggesting you have to eat Tofurky (well, unless you want that). Or you can try the recipe below for a healthier way to make a traditional dish (I’ll share a new dish each day this week to allow you to build a complete and healthy meal).

Now there are two schools of thought on Holiday eating. I’ve followed both approaches in my 20 years of striving to eat quality food consistently.

Healthy School of Thought 1: Simply understand that there are some holidays and special occasions where you’re going to “indulge” in the traditions and enjoy some food that you know isn’t the healthiest in the world. That’s okay! Provided you’re consistently exercising AND consistently eating quality foods, you can’t get fat in a day! Heck, you’ve earned the right to indulge at Thanksgiving!! I tend to favor this school of thought at this stage of my life. Click here to read “Calories and Weight Loss”.

Healthy School of Thought 2: Just simply modify your holiday meals by making them better choices. And if you decide to make these modifications, below is our first recipe for Thanksgiving dinner.

It's common for a lot of people to make Candied Sweet Potatoes with marshmallows – but the recipe below saves over 100 calories per serving when compared to "traditional" candied sweet potatoes, and if you also use it in place of the mashed potatoes, meaning you kill two birds with one stone, all in all, you just saved about 400 calories and 15-20 grams of fat. Not bad, huh? See, Thanksgiving CAN taste great and actually be pretty healthy.

Mashed Sweet Potatoes
4 medium sweet potatoes (about 8 ounces each), peeled and cut into a large dice
1/4 cup buttermilk, warmed slightly
1/4 cup orange juice
2 teaspoons orange zest
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, optional

Directions
Steam the potatoes in a large covered pan fitted with a steamer basket until they are tender, about 8 minutes. In a large bowl mash the potatoes with the buttermilk and orange juice. Stir in the zest, salt, and nutmeg. Serve the potatoes topped with the butter, if desired.

Your friend in fitness,
Brian Calkins - Cincinnati's HealthStyle Fitness, Inc

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