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Ester Marsh column: You can not out-exercise a bad diet

Boy, did I get a lot of good feedback on last week’s column. And my apologies for the ones I ruined their Dutch apple pie intake.

First of all, I believe we can have our “forbidden” foods but we need to make sure it’s once in a while and not too much. I try to keep my sweet intake for one day in the weekend. When I was younger, I could eat sweets (especially my bowl of ice cream I enjoyed every night) and exercise enough and not gain weight or fat. That changed the day I turned 40 (almost 15 years ago). I was still working hard and had the same eating habits but noticed some fat that accumulated around the waist towards the back. I chose to give up my bowl of ice cream (of only two scoops) and things went back to “normal.”

Of course, being a European baker’s daughter, I love my sweets. So decided to only eat it on the weekends and made sure not to eat too much of it. Initially, my weekend started on Friday evening and finished on Sunday after dinner. Well, it was like the gates opened to everything sweet I could find once Friday evening hit. Of course that didn’t work! I would have been better eating my bowl of ice cream with two scoops every night. I wanted to be healthy, feel good and continue to keep my girlish figure.

I learned very quickly that I could not out-exercise a bad diet. Mine wasn’t bad, I just loved extra sweets that seemed to pack on the weight. Even that’s it’s about calories in and calories out, the older you get, the more your calories in need to be healthy, nutritious calories. Of course, at any age your diet should be healthy and nutritious!

Ttomorrow is Memorial Day, and it’s a day to remember and honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice while serving in our military. If you are planning a big cookout, choose healthier, tasty, options versus the unhealthy calorie-packed choices. Watch your drinks. For example, one 16-ounce glass or bottle of sweet tea is around 140 calories. One hotdog on a bun with 2 teaspoons of ketchup and 2 teaspoons of mustard is 316 calories. A plain hamburger on a bun is 270 calories — add cheese, tomato, lettuce, mayo and ketchup its around 525 calories. One cup of potato salad is around 357 calories. Small helping of chips (like the small bags you can buy) around 150 calories. A slice of watermelon (about 280 grams) is 85 calories and two scoops of vanilla ice cream are around 280 calories.

So not going crazy, having that one cheeseburger, one hotdog on a bun, one cup of potato salad, one slice of water melon, two scoops of ice cream and a big glass of sweet tea is 1,853 calories! You need to enjoy your foods, just be aware what is going in that day or truly every day. Drink a lot of water and watch your alcohol intake (another horde of calories). Watch your food and calorie intake the rest of the week, maybe some extra exercise sessions and go for an extra walk or two the day of. Food brings families and friends together, especially after the year and a half we just had, so important for our souls. If you try to watch those unwanted calories look for options that are healthier and still very tasty. Planning, awareness, healthy options, and not waiting to eat until you are super hungry will get you through any holiday cookout or dinner with a reasonable calorie intake. Happy Memorial Day!

Ester H. Marsh is health and fitness director of the JF Hurley family YMCA.

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