Food Is Food, Sweat Is Sweat-Enough With The Guilt

I’ve noticed a lot of posts on social media lately encouraging people to work out so they don’t feel guilty about eating meals during the holidays.  I certainly admit that I ran a Turkey Trot last week, knowing that I was going to enjoy a big feast later in the day.  But I also told my husband that we don’t use exercise as a replacement for overeating.  The two shouldn’t be a means to balance each other out.  Sometimes it may seem that way, but it shouldn’t really be the case.

Of course, many of us exercise to stay healthy and maintain a healthy weight, or even to lose weight at times.  But exercise isn’t just a form of diet.  It is a healthy activity that also releases endorphins and makes us feel good about life and ourselves.
On Thanksgiving there were a lot of #burntheturkey #earntheturkey and it was driving me crazy.  You don’t have to earn your turkey.  Thanksgiving is a holiday meant to be spent with friends and family.  The same goes for Christmas, Hanukkah, New Years and other holidays.  Exercise isn’t the ticket that allows you to enjoy turkey or any other meal.  You don’t have to earn that food through exercise, at any time.
When we say that we earned a meal, it makes it seem like under other circumstances, we shouldn’t eat or enjoy such foods.  That is totally unfair!  Food is not only an essential part of life, but also a very important part of socializing and our cultures.
We should of course aim for a balance in our lives and strive to eat healthy most of the time.  We should also have times where we enjoy a little indulgence.  Dessert is delicious and so are hamburgers, french fries, or whatever your pleasure might be.  When we don’t allow ourselves to eat these things, we deprive our wants, and often go overboard when we have the opportunity.
Exercise on the other hand, shouldn’t be a punishment.  Sweat is not your fat crying.  That statement drives me nuts.  Enough with the fat nonsense!  Exercise is an important component of a healthy lifestyle and sweat is the output from your effort.  Nothing is crying.  Your body, in fact, is likely rejoicing.
Aim for balance this holiday season.  Eat mostly healthy.  Watch your portions.  And exercise when you can because it is good for you.  But please don’t punish yourself because you overdo it at a meal.  Go ahead and enjoy some holiday appetizers, desserts, or drinks.
Pick an exercise that you enjoy.  Carve out time most days to get a workout in and enjoy that sweat.  Then take a moment to look at yourself in the mirror and smile!

16 thoughts on “Food Is Food, Sweat Is Sweat-Enough With The Guilt

  1. See, on one hand I can pick up what you’re laying down. On the other, I’m quite happy being the person you say I shouldn’t be. I do drink a Coke, but only on a long ride, where it will help, not hurt. I will ride an extra 20 miles for that extra serving of green bean casserole. Why not?! The point is, how about I be me and you be you? The important thing is that we are happy with who we are. Right?

    • You absolutely bring up a great point. I always love when you share your thoughts. I think most of us endurance athletes would totally agree with you. I know that I love my long runs because I spend half the time thinking about what a feast I am going to have afterward. I also know that I eat a little worse when I run than when I don’t. Many a runner and other athletes would likely agree that those extra miles or hours allow us a little freedom to enjoy more. Sometimes I even joke that I run to eat. What I don’t think is fair is to, or should I say I dread seeing, is people posting on social media that they earned their meal because of a workout. When it comes to Thanksgiving, we all deserve to enjoy the meal. And then the following day, as I just pointed out to a friend, there were a lot of people posting on social media begrudgingly that they had to go to the gym to burn the turkey off. It makes the whole process so horrible.

  2. Hi, my name is Mike and I ate way too much on a couple of days over the Thanksgiving long weekend.


    Seriously though, while I ran 51 miles between Friday and Sunday, I just ate whatever I felt with it and often found myself thinking ‘you know you can’t outrun a bad diet, right?’ 🙂 And again, it isn’t so much guilt and the battle between the two – it is that while I love eating around the holidays and believe that we should all relax and just enjoy the great food around us … I also hate feeling over-full, and how eating so much high-fat stuff over several days makes my system feel.

    And while I basically agree with what Jim said above and your reply … I agree that around the holidays it seems to get extra attention and people take it to extremes. Maybe people read how we tend to gain a pound at the holidays … and never lose it. Or maybe it is just compensating for the guilty feelings of eating like Randy from A Christmas Story while everyone on Instagram is oh-so-perfect. I really don’t know …

    … but ultimately I think it is best to think of all of it as a continuum: we need to eat, and we need to move. So we should strive to be mostly healthy and moderate in our eating, but without denying ourselves things we enjoy. And we should strive to move and exercise and find joy in whatever exercise choices we make.

    • Absolutely. I love all of this! Life in general is about balance. Eat the good stuff, enjoy a little of the not so good stuff. Workout a bit and don’t take it to extremes. I sometimes have to remind myself that we can’t outrun a bad diet. We all have fluctuations and moments where we are on top of what we eat really well and other times when we just eat too much. Nobody is perfect. This year was a good one for me as I really tried to be aware of what I chose to eat and how much I ate on Thanksgiving. It will likely not be the same come Christmas!

  3. Love this! I’m all about the balance as well. I did a running challenge the last two years over Christmas but it was to run a full marathon distances over 7 days. Less food focused and more about maintaining activity when normally we let it slide.

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