Friday, November 23, 2007

After the Thanksgiving feast: now what?

Okay, we have eaten.

Odds are, we have overeaten.

So, what now?

If history is any judge, most of us will now segue into a syndrome known as “Holiday eating fugue.”

Holiday-eating-fugue syndrome, aka HEF, is characterized by the willful suspension of any recognition of the basic dietary law of the universe, which is: calories in taken must be balanced against calories expended.

When this law is not observed, weight gain ensues.

Some relevant facts:

Most people consume more than 3,000 calories on Thanksgiving Day.

The average 150-pound person burns approximately 325 calories in 90 minutes of shopping—a popular activity the day after Thanksgiving, which is what retailers refer to as Black Friday. This means that the average person would have to shop for dang-near the whole day on Black Friday, just to make up for the damage inflicted on Gobbler Thursday.

Historically, attendance at Weight Watchers meetings falls off at Thanksgiving, and doesn’t pick up again until after New Year’s Day. Whereupon, the membership drive becomes a Joining Jubilee.

The average American gains a pound between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. (Actually, that’s good news. Most people assume that the average American gains more like eight pounds between the holidays.)

Gym memberships, which languish during the holidays, go into RRP mode (Rabid Renewal Period) post-January 1.

What to do?

Here are some things you can try to ward off the HEF blues:

· Put the one-day feast-fest into perspective. No matter how much you ate on Thanksgiving, it’s not going to impact your long-term weight journey—if you get right back on the healthy eating and exercise horse.

· Get physical. One of the major causes of weight gain during the holidays is lack of activity. Time is spent doing holiday errands, which makes us more tired, less motivated, and not wanting to stick to our routine.

· Don’t “diet.” Don’t launch an overly restrictive program during this period. Stick to your tried-and-true eating plan.

· Be choosy about your treats. Those siren sweets hang out on every rock during the holiday months. Go ahead, enjoy. But be selective! And don’t think the right approach is to replace your high fat, high calorie faves with lowfat substitutes. A teaspoon of real butter on a roll is more satisfying than a ton of fake buttercrap.

Whine of the week: The Biggest Loser loses Kae

Why, oh why did Kae get voted off The Biggest Loser?
Okay, I guess I know why: she didn’t lose quite as much as the others in a single week’s measurement, and the other contestants were afraid of her. But I think the algorithm of The Biggest Loser’s “win number” should factor in the weekly loss in the greater context of overall fat reduction and health improvement. Otherwise, it underscores a very unhealthy emphasis on daily progress on the scales, rather than the weight loss journey.

In fact, while we’re fantasy-tweaking the show, let’s make the weekly “win” based on an overall health index that includes weight loss, fat loss, and the other major barometers of health improvement. That would vault The Biggest Loser into the next (and needed) level—a true reflection of the contestant’s overall health improvement. You could “reveal” a health index score each week, just as dramatically as the number on the scale.

Because after all, weight is just a number.

And what audiences really want is to see the true winners win. And that’s what Kae is, a winner.
From the feedback I’m reading, I think that The Biggest Loser is going to have to kick it up a notch in this manner to maintain its popularity with viewers.
And yeah, I know: "It's only reality TV, Kathryn. Why are you wasting your time watching it?"
Sorry, but it's my guilty pleasure. As someone who graduated from a couple of diet boot-camp programs (you'll see fictionalized shades of those experiences in DYING TO BE THIN, and next year's A KILLER WORKOUT), I can't help rooting for the competitors, like a die-hard Red Sox fan during the World Series!
You can see The Biggest Loser's web site here at:


Sheila Connolly said...

Good point about keeping your perspective. Thanksgiving is one day, yet too many people take it as the opening gun for a month of eating oneself silly.

But bear in mind that Thanksgiving started as a harvest festival, celebrating the crop (which might or might not last the winter). In days when the food supply was unpredictable, it made sense to eat as much as possible when it was available. Somehow our bodies seem to remember that.

Now, what to do with all those leftovers...

Kathryn Lilley said...

Times of uncertain harvest--my body was MADE for that era, Sheila, lol! It definitely doesn't like to adapt to the SuperSize-Me world. Given any opportunity, my waistline is only too happy to supersize!

Joe Moore said...

Kathryn, how did you get my picture? :-)

Joanna Campbell Slan said...


I like your thinking abotu "overall health" rather than just pounds lost.

Deb said...

Nice Friday Feast! I have my Thursday and Friday posts up! Hope you are having a good weekend! Come stop by my blog for a visit!


Deb Baker said...

Deb, hi and thanks for stopping by. Is it possible? Two Deb Bakers?

Camille Minichino said...

2 Deb Bakers ... not surprising.

But it did surprise me that there is a Camille Minichino in Italy, also a physicist.

Sorry .. off topic!

Kathryn Lilley said...

Hah! Joe, I would've posted a picture of me in beached whale mode, recovering on the couch, but vanity overruled! Nice to see another Deb dropping in--I'll go pay a visit to your blog! And Camille, there's also a biochemist Kathryn Lilley in England (at least I think she's a biochemist. Something noble-minded and worthy sounding). I think of her as the "serious" Kathryn Lilley on the planet. I'm the goofy one! And don't worry about going OT on Fridays. I live my life in OT mode!