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Friday, December 31, 2010

Red Bandana: Tubby Santa Claus Should Workout

Read the most recent Red Bandana "Things A Runner Can Do While Sick"

“Twas the night before Christmas…”

What about the day before the night before Christmas? Did Santa Claus carbo load? Carbo loading, as long distance runners know, is when marathoners eat extra carbohydrates, like pasta, so that they have enough energy reserves for later in the race. Claus must deliver gifts to the entire world. I can only assume he, in all his years of experience, knows how to prepare for this all-night, all-world gift-giving marathon.

Let’s be frank. Claus is no slimmy. The folks back at his North Pole ranch don’t call him Santa “Bowlful of Jelly” Claus for nothing. He couldn’t turn away from a plate of donuts if his life depended on it.

I am not an exercise physiologist, nor am I a dietician, but let’s examine the situation:

Fact: Claus stops at the home of every little boy and girl.

Fact: Roughly every third home presents a treat at the bottom of their chimney (my estimate).

Fact: At least half those treats are non-nutritional (again, my estimate). This includes eggnog, cookies, chocolate milk, and even a shot of brandy or two.

Besides the obvious, that Claus has no business drinking while flying a sleigh (with or without Rudolph’s help), he is likely consuming more calories than he is burning. This includes bounding up and down chimneys, reaching and digging into his pack for toys, and springing to his sleigh.

It is normal within a longer endurance event to see snack stations. Energy drinks, as well as water, are made available to athletes to help sustain their strength as well as replace necessary electrolytes. No one, however, is leaving Gatorade or Granola bars for Claus.

So What?
Many of us live like Santa Claus and wonder why we are tubby. We might (as I conveniently do) blame it on growing older, changes in metabolism, and other such excuses. While those might be true in one sense, the fact remains we pretend a good run will eradicate the negative impact of a big-time chow down. Fitness offers freedom, not foolishness.

Christmas is here, and soon following is New Year’s Eve. Like Thanksgiving Day, big meals, complete with pies, drinks, and sugary snacks are part of the celebration. Champagne is not calorie-free, you know.

You teetotalers might not be hung-over on January 1, but you too might be fatter. Remember that even one eight ounce cup of non-alcoholic eggnog will add 258 calories. And, come on, are you really going to have just one of these tasty little drinks?

The real star of Christmas, Jesus Christ, was surrounded by fit people. For example, the shepherds ran in from their fields to Bethlehem to see him, something they could not have done if they were couch potatoes. Similarly, the Magi walked long and far to find Mary, Joseph and Jesus. They brought gold, frankincense and myrrh, not burgers, beer and brats. Their lifestyle was one of good eating and exercise, even if they were not thinking “Chicago Marathon.”

Honesty Tip
A handy website to keep you honest about your diet is the USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference. It is simple to use. Just enter up to five keywords which best describe the food item. If you like, select a specific food group to sort things further. You will see more info about each food than on retail food packaging.

Good Eating
Speaking of blowing a few calories, check out Butler’s BBQ in Wheaton in the strip mall at Geneva and Main Street. I enjoyed delicious ribs and fried chicken. A thinner, more Southern-style sauce than, say, Sweet Baby Ray’s, but still flavorful. Quick service, friendly people and a relaxed atmosphere makes this a worthy place for a lunch or take-out dinner anytime. Their slogan is “It’s the wood that makes it good.” Taste and believe.

Butler’s BBQ
322 East Geneva Road
Wheaton, IL 60187

Running Playlist Song of the Week
Go Tell It on the Mountain by VeggieTales from “A Very Veggie Christmas” (1996)
Imagine vegetables singing this traditional American song in an overdone country twang. Larry the Cucumber and Bob the Tomato talk about their favorite song, and sing it with enough energy to get you through an end-of-run walk. It hasn’t the oomph to qualify as a true running song, but it is lots of fun and easy to walk to this Christmas season.

“Go tell it on the mountain,
Over the hills and everywhere;
Go tell it on the mountain,
That Jesus Christ is born.”

Merry Christmas!

Freelance writer Anthony Trendl loves BBQs, folk music and porches. I look to running as I battle midlife and my mid-section. Click my name above for more articles, fun and tips. See  or e-mail me at anthonytrendl @

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