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Ester Marsh column: Watch out for those calories

Last week’s column to challenge yourself to 12 days of exercise between Thanksgiving and Christmas had some holiday foods and examples on how much you need to exercise to burn them off. It sparked lots of conversations, so I am expanding on it in this week’s column.

Personally, I have found a pretty good balance of eating yummy holiday foods and not gaining the extra weight which comes typically with eating and drinking the rich holiday foods and drinks. The most important reason is because I generally know how many calories I am taking in and what it takes to burn them off. It has deterred me from eating certain foods knowing how much I have to do to burn them off!

First of all, be aware of what you eating, period. With the holidays, numerous goodies are around. Try to plan your daily food intake from your breakfast to your dinner and all snacks in between. When you are hungry, it is super hard to withstand temptation of holiday foods and drinks!

Here are some examples based on an average 150-pound female (males burn a bit more and the heavier you are the more you burn per hour):

An 1/8 of a slice of pecan pie is 503 (!) calories. To burn it off: Swim normal speed for one hour. Walk briskly or run for 5 miles. Average speed of biking for an hour and a half. A 30-minute strength workout can burn around 110 calories, so almost two and half hours of strength workout.

A turkey leg is about 335 calories. To burn it off: Swim fast about half hour, regular speed for about 45 minutes. Walk briskly or run 3.2 miles. Bike fast for about half an hour, strength workout 90 minutes.

A snicker doodle cookie is 240 calories (but who can only eat one of those?) To burn it off: Over an hour of strength workout. Are you getting the drift?

How about the holiday drinks?!

Eggnog classic version (whole milk, cream eggs, etc.) is 400 calories (!) and if you add a shot of rum, add 100 more calories (so another hour in the pool).

A Starbucks Peppermint Mocha drink is 350 calories for a 12-ounce serving (another 90 minutes of strength workout).

Average red and white wine 5-ounce (small) glass is 120 calories.

Light beer (12 ounces) is 96 calories. An average pale ale is 175 calories.

Most shots (1.5 ounces) of hard liquors are around 100 calories.

A typical glass of champagne (3.4 ounces) is 100 calories.

Don’t get me wrong — some of the holiday foods and drinks are absolutely worth the calories! Just know what it takes to burn the calories you just consumed. You can find all kinds of calculators online which can be more specific to your gender, age, weight and intensity of workout to see what you need to do to burn the calories. I have passed over many great foods because they just weren’t worth the calories for me!

My main focus for the holidays is to spend quality time with my family and friends and not get obsessed with the foods and drinks, but just to be aware what goes in and out and to continue a healthy lifestyle throughout the holidays!

Ester H Marsh is Health & Fitness Director at JF Hurley Family YMCA, ACSM Certified Personal Trainer.

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