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PERRY BUCHANAN: A guide to surviving the holidays

HEALTH AND FITNESS: Some planning can help fight expanding waistlines during the holidays

Perry Buchanan

Perry Buchanan

Thanksgiving is a holiday tradition filled with family reunions, fun, football, alcohol, food, food and more food.

When counting their blessings on Thanksgiving Day, many Americans forget to count their calories. In a single meal on this holiday, most adults double their entire daily caloric intake. According to the American Council on Exercise (ACE), the average American will consume 3,000 to 4,500 calories and over 200 grams of fat on Thanksgiving Day alone.

On average, a person would have to run at a moderate pace for four hours, swim for five hours, or walk 30 miles to burn off those extra 3,000 calories. It’s no wonder so many healthy eating plans are knocked out of commission from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day.

But don’t panic or feel guilty about your diet and exercise plans getting out of control. When you balance your intake over several days, you have ample time to regain control. If you’re trying to lose, a good goal this time of year is to just not gain weight. Consider this article your holiday survival guide. This is a joyous time of year, so we need to enjoy it while keeping our fitness goals intact. You may even lose a few pounds with the following advice.

— One of the biggest mistakes made, is not eating in anticipation of a party or big meal. Do not skip meals, just limit them. If you starve yourself during the day, your blood sugar will be so low that your appetite will be out of control. It’s best to have a light breakfast and lunch packed with protein and some fruit. This way you will feel fuller and be less likely to overeat.

— Save room for your holiday favorites. If there is some food you feel you just must have, go ahead, but practice portion control. A smaller serving can be very satisfying, especially if you first fill up on quality foods before indulging in your craving.

— Socialize. Talk more so you’ll eat less. Eat slowly and enjoy your meal. After 20 minutes of eating, the body signals a feeling of fullness to the brain. Slowing down your eating during this time will make you feel fuller with less food.

— Choose calorie-free beverages. If you are going to drink alcohol, drink lots of water to avoid the dehydration that alcohol can cause. Alcohol can be a double whammy for those trying to lose weight. First, it provides a lot of unneeded calories and, second, it lowers inhibitions and impairs judgment, making it more likely to make poor food choices.

— Keep your fitness goals in mind. It’s OK to overindulge a little, but remember your goal so you don’t allow things to get completely out of control. The more calories you burn, the more you can eat! Try to stay as active as possible. Beyond burning calories, exercise is essential for good health, and stress management, which is often a challenge during the busy holiday season.

It’s often stated that the average person gains 7-10 pounds between Thanksgiving and the New Year. However, according to the National Institutes of Health, the average person’s weight gain is just over one pound. The bad news is that weight isn’t lost during the rest of the year and can add up over time.

All of these tips will help keep you on track, but as I always advise this time of year, allow for a few pleasures and enjoy the down time with friends. Stay in shape through the year and you can afford to indulge over the holidays.

Thanksgiving brings a little time for reflection. As I review the year as it draws to a close, I’ve been counting my blessings in terms of friendships. I’m grateful for the irreplaceable lifelong friends from school, clients and professional contacts who have become close friends, and my great staff that make everything possible. All bring fresh perspectives and make me very thankful.

Lastly, I am thankful for you, the Albany Herald reader, for reading my articles. Please feel free to continue emailing me at perry@ptgym.com with your fitness questions and future topic ideas for articles. Wishing you a very happy and healthy Thanksgiving!

Perry Buchanan, owner of PT Gym, is certified as Health Fitness Specialist through the American College of Sports Medicine, and Fitness Nutrition Specialist through the National Academy of Sports Medicine.