On Thanksgiving Eat, Drink and Keep Moving

‘Tis the season for baggy sweaters and elastic pants, comfort food and comfy clothes, Aunt Jane and antacids. But Cycle Life is determined to keep you feeling good and looking even better. We’ll be open Thanksgiving morning to get you burning calories long before the Turkey hits the table.

Let’s begin by stating this post will not be a damning of Thanksgiving. You will find no guilt here, no shame for the pile of food you’ll inhale, the seconds you’ll make room for, or the thirds you’ll pick over at the stove. There will be no suggestions for replacing your turkey with a tofurkey (criminal) or making the stuffing out of lentils (disgusting) or having an apple instead of apple pie (cruel).

No, this is not that. And for a couple of reasons. First, nutritionists agree that depriving yourself just doesn’t work. Typically, it leads to binging—you end up wanting those indulgences even more and so end up indulging more. Second, it’s the holidays and watching everyone else eat, drink and be merry is not only hard, it’s depressing. Those same nutritionists say it’s best to relax the diet for the day and allow yourself to celebrate with friends and family.

But at what cost?

The fact is you’re going to eat more than usual. A lot more, according to statistics. The average American will consume roughly 3000 calories at Thanksgiving dinner. That number balloons to 4500 calories and 292 grams of fat (about 7.5 Big Macs!) when you include the grazing that occurs before you ever sit down to the table—you know, the cheese and dip and beer and wine that prime you for the serious gnoshing.

And Thanksgiving Day is just the start. First there’s the leftovers, the open-faced sandwiches and pie for breakfast (hey, it’s fruit). Then come the holiday parties, replete with eggnog and sugar cookies. Next thing you know, you’re standing under the mistletoe in an ugly sweater, once again playing eenie meenie miney moe at the dessert table. It all adds up to the average American putting on some seriously stubborn weight (while it’s a myth that we gain 5-7 pounds during the holidays, studies show the pound or two most people add is rarely lost; in fact, we continue to put it on year after year, which accounts for the 10-20 pounds the average American gains per decade).

So does that mean you should simply resign yourself to adding some holiday bulk? Absolutely not. You can and should try to eat a little wiser. While you may think that skipping meals and fasting in anticipation of feasting is smart, it actually causes you to eat more. Instead, try eating light the days before and after, consuming a balance of lean protein, fresh vegetables and whole grains—and lots of water! Second, get that metabolism fired up. While the best way to avoid the extra holiday weight may be to just say no to gravy, the best way to have your cake and eat it too is to burn those extra buttercream calories.

Regular exercise will help turn your metabolism into a calorie burning furnace that keeps working even when you’re resting. So get in a routine and commit to working out two to three times a week. Also, try ratcheting up the tension on your bike. Building and maintaining muscle requires calories. Fat, on the other hand, requires nothing but a place to settle in and get comfortable. And while you may think that guy in class who’s huffing and puffing and in absolute agony is a maniac, know this: high intensity interval workouts (like indoor cycling) have been shown to produce “afterburn”, where you continue to burn calories up to 36 hours after your workout is over. So push yourself and go harder for longer...then sit back and slim down.

Happy Thanksgiving! Have fun, be safe and keep moving.             

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