This is most valuable particularly after lifting heavy weights, which, if you aren't doing, you should consider, but will work after grueling cardio workouts as well: schedule your gym time right before (as in a couple hours before) a big dinner, like Thanksgiving, Christmas, or a family get-together. Your body is starving for nutrients at this time so most of what you eat goes towards recovery and repairing muslces, reinforcing joints and surrounding tissue, controlling the inflammatory response, etc., rather than being stored as fat.
Sure, around the holidays or big family celebrations you're pretty much guaranteed to put on a few pounds, but this strategy can better the distribution between muscle and fat.
Probably isn't doing anything bad as long as you're giving yourself enough time to digest, i.e. about an hour for everything to move out of your stomach. If I eat a lot before I workout though I feel sluggish and heavy when I move around. As far as calorie balance goes, your body won't use whatever you just ate as fuel for the workout though, because all of those nutrients still need to be absorbed by the body. Those will be more available for the following evening's workout.
As I like to say as long as you're making some effort to get up an move around you're doing something good
The original advice works best if its a weekend and you know you've got a feast coming up - if you work out a few hours before before it's less likely you'll turn into a lardball the next day.
I am like FarahB. I do my exercising,whether at home or the gym, after dinner. I find that I still see results the next morning when I weigh in, and the percent of fat to muscle registered on the scale is moving in the right direction.
I do agree that on holidays (Memorial day coming up) a rigorous workout before hand sets the body up to move the nutrients to repair mode rather than storage mode. I also feel that when one puts in a workout to be proud of, one doesn't want to mess it up with an uncontrolled pig out. And if one does splurge, guilt and weight gain are minimal.
It would be a rare occasion for me to have time for a really intense workout a few hours before a feast, because generally I'm the one up before the sun cooking that feast. Also my gym is at the High School and not open on holidays or school breaks, so for the moment a holiday weight lifting workout is completely out of the question. I am considering the purchase of some sort of weight lifting equipment for the house, but not sure of what I want just yet, or where I will put the darn thing....
I do however, start my regular days with an intense cardio workout, and I agree it sets up the whole day for success.
I likewise have a hard time fitting in a workout before holiday meals, since I live almost 4 hours from my parents and always drive up just in time for the big meal. I do, however, try to get up early enough to fit in a morning workout. While it's not 'immediately' before the big meal, I still feel better about getting in some exercise. My mom and aunts will usually take an afternoon walk too, if the weather is nice enough, which helps settle the food.