Yesterday I took my family to a theme park. The park was not quite a mile from end to end, and we cris-crossed the grounds several times over the course of the day. I wouldn't be surprised if we walked 8 miles or more around that park - at 140 calories per mile, that's about 1,100 extra calories we were burning!
So if my body normally burns 1,900 calories per day (not including exercise), I could have eaten somewhere around 3,000 calories yesterday without adding any extra surplus to my fat reserves.
3,000 calories sounds like a lot when you're used to eating 300-calorie sandwiches, but they add up fast when you're eating fast food and snacks.
Unfortunately the theme parks don't make it easy to make good choices; we were constantly walking past vendors selling churros, giant pretzels, ice cream, frozen fruit smoothies (with plenty of added sugar I'm guessing). Add in the "value" combos for lunch and dinner, and we could have easily eaten more than 3,000 calories while we were there.
In fact, I'm guessing there are a number of people who would justify that chocolate covered churro and strawberry fruit slushy by thinking to themselves "I've walked so much today, I deserve a little extra snack." What a bummer that would be - to spend the whole day walking around and then to end up gaining weight.. No thanks.
We were fortunate enough to have planned ahead. We brought a backpack with plenty of snacks and water, which helped us to avoid eating gigantic amounts of calories while we were there. (and spending gigantic amounts of dollars to do so!)
Just because you're on vacation, or because you're doing something out of the ordinary, isn't a good reason to close your eyes to what you're eating. You're body doesn't know the difference, and processes the calories the same way it always does.
- Chris Butterworth