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Carbs, Calories -- Who's Counting?

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What do you and the turkey have in common on Thanksgiving Day?

You both get stuffed. The difference is, you get to waddle away.

Ah, the joys of the big holiday meal -- food, glorious food -- and the pain that follows when your eyes are bigger than your stomach.

It begins with snacks: stuffed celery, chips, crackers and a shrimp mold that doesn't last all that long at room temperature.

Then comes the main event in all its grandeur: turkey accompanied by mashed potatoes, gravy, salad, cranberry sauce, vegetables and -- as if there aren't already enough carbs in the dressing -- fresh-baked bread.

Of course, who stops there? A couple of helpings of pumpkin pie with whipped cream and several homemade cookies later, you're groaning.

If it hurts your back when you stretch out on the carpet, you've crossed the line -- not to mention about four weight divisions in the World Boxing Council ratings.

For this one day -- and maybe again come Christmas -- you ditch the Atkins Diet in favor of my favorite, the Chet Atkins Diet.

The Chet Atkins Diet?

That's when you listen to country music and eat everything in sight.

So you've gorged yourself. Now what?

There are a few basic options:

The grizzly bear approach. Go into a brief hibernation on the couch and wake up hungry a few hours later.

Post-meal physical activity such as basketball or touch football that leads to sprains and strains. That, of course, also can lead to indigestion caused by jostling the pantry you now call a stomach.

Inevitably someone will mistake indigestion for a heart attack.

Some people really might end up in the emergency room.

"Especially with the elderly," said Elaine White, director of the emergency room at Turlock's Emanuel Medical Center. "They're not used to eating large amounts or certain types of foods. Or they're on sodium-restricted diets and they go off the program, eating ham or something high-sodium, and the body can't handle it."

They'll come to the ER complaining of shortness of breath and find that they're having congestive heart failure, White said.

This sounds worse than it actually is.

"It's not a heart attack, but it's a condition that needs to be treated," she said.

Finally, you can toss and turn in bed until the gym opens Friday morning.

If you believe Self or Men's Health magazines, very few Modestans will exercise this option.

Self ranks Modesto as the nation's least fit city for women. The average workout here lasts nine minutes compared with 15 in top-ranked San Francisco.

And for men, Modesto ranked 88th out of 101 cities, getting F's for fitness and quality of life, and a D for overall health.

Some residents will strike preemptively this morning, making room for food by exercising in advance, said Jennifer Elrod of Gold's Gym.

"The turkey burn," she called it. "If you spike your metabolism, the next couple of hours the calories won't touch you."

Elrod predicted that the place will be packed from 8 to 11 a.m.

Others will wait until Friday, when the stomachache has subsided, before heading to their club.

"Everybody's feeling guilty," said Lynn McNeely, manager of In-Shape City on Floyd Avenue in Modesto. "We usually get crowds in the morning, early -- more than what you'd normally expect on a Friday."

The next wave will hit late Friday afternoon.

"They roll off the couch and come into the gym," she said.

Some folks actually will exercise. Others will just use the steam, sauna or swimming pool.

Fortunately, you'll have the weekend to recover, to atone for the sins of the stomach and the sweet tooth.

And to polish off the leftovers.

Jeff Jardine's column appears Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays in Local News. He can be reached at 578-2383 or

For more coverage from The Modesto Bee, or to start home delivery, go to

©2003 The Modesto Bee. All Rights Reserved.

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