Burning the Turkey

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Despite of what the title might suggest, this article is not about cooking. Let’s make it clear – I don’t do the cooking. I leave that to my wife. For if I do, that’s exactly what I will do: “burn” the turkey.

This morning, I went to the gym and found that it was jam-packed. All the treadmills and exercise machines were occupied. Even the open floor for stretching was full of people. What’s happening? Since I am a regular to this gym, I knew this was not an ordinary phenomenon.

Then I realized, it was the first day after the Thanksgiving weekend. That was it! People perhaps felt guilty of all the feasting they did and stuffing themselves with food (so it was not just the turkey that was stuffed!) during the holiday and now they are trying to “burn the turkey.”

I read in one article that according to the University of Michigan Health System, an average American devours 3000 calories during the Thanksgiving meal or dinner. Screaming turkeys! That much for one dinner? And since most of us also do a lot of snacking throughout the day, it will amount to about 4500 calories consumed for the whole Thanksgiving day. That is more than twice the recommended caloric allowance for a day. And considering that some people gobble ( gobble? yes, pun intended) that much calories whether it is Thanksgiving or not, no wonder we have an obesity epidemic.

But you may argue that you could have burned all those calories perhaps when you did your Black Friday shopping. Yes, you might have walked, ran, pushed, pulled, shoved, lift, and even jumped to get the best deals on the biggest day of shopping. That will certainly burn some of the calories you chomped, but it is not enough. Not even close.

An exercise physiologist from the American Council of Exercise stated that in order to burn the 3000 calories, an average 160-pound person need to walk 30 miles. Holy turkey smokes! That’s more than the distance of a full marathon! Well, if you want to burn much faster, you can run, right? Then you need to run at a moderate pace for 4 hours. And if swimming is your thing, you need to swim for 5 hours to burn that 3000 calories you packed from the Thanksgiving dinner alone.

After the holiday, we perhaps still have a lot of leftovers that we are trying to consume, even if it is in excess of what we really need. I know it is very hard to have good food go to waste, especially in some cultures. Coming from the Philippines, where food can be scarce for some families, it is inculcated in us by our elders, that it is almost like a heinous crime to throw away food. But you know what, in some instances, it may be better to have the excess food to be in the garbage, than the “garbage” to be a part of your belly fat, where it will stay there for a long, long time.

Now that you are enlightened, put down the turkey and start walking. The whole 30 miles of it.

(*image from here)


  1. I hope you and your family had a nice Thanksgiving! This was a very informative and interesting post. Unfortunately, lots of people do over indulge around the holidays. For me personally, I find it easier to not over indulge. I think it’s much harder to burn off the excess calories. Being vegan, I haven’t had a problem with my weight. That being said, I think exercise is something that we can all benefit from. Speaking of exercise, I love to exercise outdoors. One of my personal favorites is playing badminton in my backyard. Tons of fun! I prefer it to running marathons! Ha! Ha! By the way, have you heard of Fauja Singh, a 100-year-old man that recently finished a full-distance marathon in Toronto? That was one amazing feat I must say! I have a lot of respect for that guy. 🙂

  2. You being a vegan has a very good advantage with regards to health. Actually, I am also involved in some kind of community-based program that promotes plant-based diet and exercise. It is called CHIP (Coronary Health Improvement Project), which was founded by Dr. Hans Diehl, and is very similar to what Dr. Esselstyn is advocating.

    Yes, I am really inspired by that centenarian that finished a full-marathon. Running a full marathon is in my life’s to-do list, but I hope I don’t wait till I’m a hundred years old to accomplish it.

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