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Christmas goose isn’t only one getting fat

We are in the midst of the great Caloric Festival that occurs between Thanksgiving and New Years, followed by often ill-fated resolutions. And, now, this annual time period has gotten worse.

Just when we’ve finally finished the Halloween candy leftovers, Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory conspires against us by holding its Seconds sale, where we go from table to table tasting and choosing a variety of chocolate delights under the guise of giving sample gifts to our neighbors in the spirit of holiday cheer. (Yeah, right.) We reason that these poor orphan chocolates will probably be thrown out if we don’t adopt them.

My favorite TV scene for this time of year is from “3rd Rock from the Sun,” the comedy sitcom about extraterrestrials on an expedition to Earth who pose as a human family to observe human behavior. They consider Earth to be a very insignificant planet.

The characters’ experiences and misunderstandings as they navigate the human experience are hilarious. The scene I’m recalling is of Dick, played by the incomparable John Lithgow, and Harry, played by French Stewart, collapsed on chairs after their first full-fledged Thanksgiving dinner. They are in considerable discomfort as they attempt to help each other loosen their belts. Harry’s immortal line is, “No, save yourself.”

The show’s creators, Bonnie and Terry Turner, also created the film “Coneheads,” three years before “3rd Rock.” Many of the same former “Saturday Night Live” actors had roles or appearances as guest stars on “3rd Rock from the Sun.”

We all know the feeling of having overeaten, then somehow feel the best antidote is to recline and watch several football games in a row. This strategy is the Sumo training regimen. Sumo wrestlers regularly over-consume calories, then follow the meal with a four-hour nap. Sumos have a great deal of muscle and are very strong, but they also have a high subcutaneous fat content that keeps them in the range of 400 pounds to 600 pounds. Lying down after eating metabolically ensures that they will store calories as fat. We do the same when we mimic their training routine. Turkey also has the amino acid tryptophan, which the body needs to make serotonin and melatonin.

You get it. This also conspires to make us sleepy as do the carbohydrates and any alcohol we have consumed. We are doomed. I used to take my teams out for ice cream when on the road. Ice cream has tryptophan and its carbohydrates also increase serotonin release. Anything to help them go back to the hotel and get sleepy.

So, we need to force ourselves to be active after a meal, especially one as gargantuan as those we consume during Caloric Festival month plus. As arduous a task as cleaning up is, we need to do more. Just take a walk and include a brisk segment in it. Research tells us that even a brief five-minute walk will have a positive effect.

Muscular contraction leads to an increase in glucose uptake, meaning that your working muscles use up the extra glucose in your bloodstream, reducing the need for insulin secretion and minimizing the conversion to – and storage of – fat. This will metabolically burn calories you have just consumed, rather than store them as fat a la Sumo training.

Thanksgiving has passed, but we can still have an impact on the remainder of the Caloric Festival. Eat slowly, choose smaller portions and take that post-meal walk. Resist the urge to nap.

Save yourself!

Jim Cross is a retired Fort Lewis College professor and basketball coach.