RALEIGH, N.C. — You feast on a big fast-food meal, then tell yourself you will work it off at the gym.
We all have our food weaknesses and justifications, but unless you are a marathon runner, it is nearly impossible to work off all those calories.
For example, it would take more than two hours of exercise to burn off the average fast-food burger -- up to eight hours if fries and a soda were consumed.
It takes an hourlong workout to burn off one cup of ice cream and one to three hours to burn off a piece of pie or cake.
WakeMed health specialist Laura Aiken says splurging today and fasting tomorrow is not a good idea, either.
"A lot of people say, 'OK, I'm going to have a sundae today, so I'm going to eat all salads tomorrow.' That's not a good idea," she said.
Aiken says it is OK to splurge every once in awhile when it is something you really want. Depriving yourself can cause bigger problems.
"Anytime you deprive yourself of something you want, you're more likely to binge on it the next time you get it," she said.
It is all about finding balance so you can enjoy that hot fudge sundae with all the fixings with none of the guilt.
If you are trying to lose weight, Aiken says try cutting 250 calories every day and burn 250 calories. In one week, you will lose approximately 1 pound and will not feel guilty for those occasional splurges.