Friday, November 29, 2013

Can Exercise Offset Holiday Eating Spree?

Shared feasting is a big part of the Thanksgiving gathering with family, and I don't think we should wallow in guilt every time we ladle some gravy on the turkey and dressing. I do relish some delicacies I hardly ever eat the rest of the year. However, I will say this for myself: I eat considerably less at the annual feast now than I did in my youth. For instance, back  the day, it was nothing for me to devour four or five helpings of oyster or cornbread dressing. Now, I limit myself to one.

For health reasons, I do try to keep from adding very many pounds over the holidays, and I try to take them off early in the New Year if I have gained. There is no doubt that it is a challenge to go to all the Thanksgiving weekend gatherings -- followed by Christmas parties, Christmas itself, leftovers, New Year's parties, and then snacking during the football bowl games -- without eating and drinking far too much.

Can exercise help mitigate the damage? Two of the sources in my bloglist offer somewhat differing takes on that. A Science Daily article suggests the value of an exercise-based approach if you are eating holiday treats "in moderation" and want to stave off "waistline creep. On the other hand, a WebMD article reported on a recent study showing that exercise had "no significant impact on holiday weight gain." Researchers weren't sure why that was the case, and they emphasize that because exercise has many other benefits, the holiday is no time to give up your worker routine. However, as far as holiday caloric intake is concerned, they concluded there is no substitute for moderation.

For me, I believe exercise is part of the solution. For one thing, it takes my mind off all those Christmas cookies back home. And if I feel as though I am maintaining my workout pace, I have more motivation to be choosy when I get back home and decide between a sugar cookie or an orange for a snack. The main thing for me is keep track by weighing in regularly, and taking immediate action (more exercise/less eating) if the numbers start going up sharply.

The Thanksgiving buffet we enjoyed at a local restaurant featured the best cherry cobbler I have ever experienced. It had a nutty crust -- walnuts, I believe -- that was out of this world. I confess: I had a second helping. But now I must pay my dues and go back to yogurt for a few days, plus the walking trails and workout room.'

                                                            © Robert G. Holland  2013

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