33 ways to burn off Thanksgiving dinner

As much as we kvetch about trying to lose weight, Thanksgiving is the one day you can brag about how much you ate and receive accolades and admiration for a job well done.

This does not work any other day.  

Coming into work with your pants unbuttoned and telling coworkers, “OMG, I ate so much at dinner last night I had to roll myself out to my car this morning!” would be met with side glances and muffled “that’s so gross” comments all around.

But brag about how many slices of pumpkin pie, dinner rolls and piles of turkey and dressing, and you’re hailed as a major player in the Thanksgiving Day Stuff Your Face award, patted on the back and offered another turkey leg.

According to the Calorie Control Council (tagline: “We never get dinner invites“), the average American eats approximately 4,500 calories Thanksgiving day.

Rustic Thankgiving DinnerA New York Time’s article cited the following as a typical breakdown of the day’s calorie events:

Turkey, with skin, 6 oz: 299 calories
Sausage stuffing: 310 calories
Dinner roll and butter: 310 calories
Sweet-potato casserole: 300 calories
Mashed potatoes and gravy: 140 calories
Green-bean casserole: 110 calories
Cranberry sauce: 15 calories
Brussels sprouts: 83 calories
Pumpkin pie: 316 calories
Pecan pie: 503 calories
Whipped cream: 100 calories

TOTAL: 2,486 calories

When you take a look at this list, there’s no one, major, over the top item, just a little bit of everything adding up to one, big, heaping Pepto Bismol commercial. But the final tally makes it easy to see how a person could reach the CCCs estimation, especially when you consider this total does not include beverages or eating throughout the rest of the day.

This same, “Holy cow, this adds up fast!” principle applies to everyday eating, too, by the way.

Think about it: A single piece of pie clocking in at 500 calories a slice (and, granted, pecan pie is one of the highest), can ratchet up the day’s total quicker than you can say, “Is this real whipped cream or Cool Whip?” Boom.

Even if you skip dessert, the turkey (6 oz. is not a huge portion, btw, but slightly higher than the usual 4 oz. serving size), stuffing and mashed potatoes on their own are enough to rack up a hefty score.

Since I don’t want people lined up outside my door with burning pitchforks on Black Friday, instead of suggesting you “go easy” on the calorically-laden items, I decided to provide a a bunch of ways you can have your pie, eat it, and then burn it off, too.

So here are combinations of activities* you can do to avoid ending up in the ER with a turkey overdose (calculations based on a 150 lb. woman):

Turkey, with skin, 6 oz: 299 calories

  • Treadmill, 4.0 mph, flat 60 minutes
  • Elliptical trainer 30 minutes
  • Row vigorous effort 30 minutes

Sausage stuffing: 310 calories

  • Elliptical trainer 30 minutes
  • Treadmill, 4.0 mph, flat 60 minutes
  • Row vigorous effort 30 minutes

Dinner roll and butter: 310 calories

  • Elliptical trainer 30 minutes
  • Treadmill, 4.0 mph, flat 60 minutes
  • Stair stepper for 30 minutes

Sweet-potato casserole: 300 calories

  • Walking at a brisk pace (4.0 mph) 60 minutes
  • Circuit training vigorously 30 minutes
  • Row vigorous effort 30 minutes

Mashed potatoes and gravy: 140 calories

  • Row light effort 35 minutes
  • Water aerobics 30 minutes
  • Strength train, moderate effort, 30 minutes

Green-bean casserole: 110 calories

  • Play board games/cards 60 minutes
  • Walk the dog 30 minutes
  • Treadmill at 4.0 mph, 3% grade 15 minutes

Cranberry sauce: 15 calories

  • Stand while talking on the phone 8 minutes
  • Sit in a whirlpool 15 minutes
  • Read, meditate or write for 15 minutes

Brussels sprouts: 83 calories

  • Strength training for 20 minutes
  • Stretch 30 minutes
  • Low-impact aerobics 15 minutes

Pumpkin pie: 316 calories

  • Hike 45 minutes
  • Elliptical trainer 30 minutes
  • Treadmill, 4.0 mph, flat 60 minutes

Pecan pie: 503 calories

Walk briskly (4.0 mph) for 90 minutes

Ski 60 minutes

Row moderate effort 60 minutes

Whipped cream: 100 calories

  • Walk the dog 30 minutes
  • Strength train 30 minutes
  • Low-impact aerobics 20 minutes

*Calorie burning estimates according to the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM).

Clearly you can mix and match the calorie burns to accommodate whatever level of caloric debauchery you committed. Or, even if you live outside the U.S., this makes a handy chart for burning off any food in the designated calorie range.

NOW YOU.

Will you do a little extra activity this year to burn off those extra calories?

If so, which exercises do will you try? Drop me a note in the comments section below… I’d love to hear from YOU! And please forward this to your BAFFs (Best Ageless Friends Forever).  

Other posts you may like:

5 Ways to burn 1,000 calories (for real)

How to get results when you can’t do your usual workout

5 Ways to stay on track when saboteurs strike

Got questions? Send them to me at linda@lindamelone.com. (Yes, I answer all my own mail.)

Happy Thanksgiving!

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