Most Vital day of Year for Exercise

Photo from Creative Commons

That’s right! If you don’t have some serious physical activity planned the day before Thanksgiving, get planning. Here’s why:

I’m sure you’ve heard by now that tomorrow, on Thanksgiving, the average American will consume 4500 calories and about 230 grams of fat. (the avergae caloric intake of a 450 lb man)

For those looking to at least maintain or even lose weight, the common strategy is to “work it off” after the fact. Well, you can get it done … but that will require 3x the effort than “working it off” BEFORE the fact.

Here is an important “fitness parable” that will explain what I mean. Picture it this way:

It’s your job to maintain the balance of liquid water in a bucket, not letting any convert to ice by spilling over onto the freezing ground. Of course you don’t want to completely run out of liquid water either – but that’s not a big concern considering you are getting it refilled 3-5x/day. Right now, your bucket is about 90% full because you are doing a good job of continually siphoning out water. Kudos.

Here’s the problem: your family has a plan to sabotage the balance of your bucket tomorrow. (what!?)  Yep, they are planning on dumping a whole 50% of your bucket’s TOTAL capacity into it … in one day!  That’s a problem, considering you are already 90% full.  How do you plan to cope with that impending mess?

You’ve got 2 options:

1. Siphon out about 50% of the water currently in your bucket, creating a demand for the water that’s coming tomorrow, thereby avoiding any mess.

or…

2. Go ahead and let the bucket overflow, and endure the conversion of the liquid water to dangerous ice. Then start chiseling away and melting the ice so you can pour it back into your bucket – all the while siphoning out enough to make room in the bucket for water that once was ice. Finally, do some serious siphoning to get back to balance.

It’s your call, but it would be a heck of a lot easier to exercise intensely today in order to drain your bucket [i.e. muscles and liver], creating room and demand for the extra water (calories/glucose) coming tomorrow … than to let those extra calories (liquid water) convert to stored body fat (ice) … which you’ll have to breakdown (chisel) to liquid water (calories) before you even can siphon them out (burn) them again.

I took the hard route to explain a simple point, but I wanted you to realize how much easier it is to use exercise as a preventive activity vs. a curative activity. Exercise BEFORE over-eating is a MUCH more efficient strategy to maintain weight than exercise AFTER overeating. A few reasons include the positives of elevated resting metabolism, exercise post-oxygen consumption, and the caloric demand of muscle fiber repair. Not to mention, avoiding the extreme negative of new fat cell creation.

So if it has to be one or the other (both is best), challenge yourself physically BEFORE the big meal. Let’s face it, it’s much more likely to happen before we clobber ourselves with food, anyway :)