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Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Burn Baby Burn

Weight, whether you are concerned with losing it, maintaining it, or gaining it, is all a matter of simple arthimetic. If you burn more calories than you consume, you lose weight. If you burn less than you consume, you gain weight; and finally, if the two numbers even out, you maintain your weight. That's why we all here a lot about calories, calories, calories. But while we hear a great deal about them, it's hard to truly understand how many calories you're consuming and how many you're expending.

Personally, I've never been a calorie counter; instead, I am what you might call a calorie estimator. Usually I underestimate how many calories I gobble up and overestimate how many I burn. This seems easy to do: working out is hard and eating is easy. I know, logically, that I need to either burn an extra five hundred calories a day or else eat five hundred fewer calories a day in order to lose one pound in one week (approximately). Yet, at eleven o'clock at night I find myself reaching for that ice cream sandwhich (190 calories, or a 1.9 miles on the treadmill). So while I don't know if I'll ever be able to resist the foods I love, I look to the burning method for weight reduction.

Running is my obvious choice of exercise, but it's not the only way, or even the most efficient way to burn calories. In a mile the average adult burns about 100 calories per mile (I say average because depending on your weight and fitness level you could burn more or less than that). Doesn't seem like much, huh? Well, add some of your other activitites in there and you might be burn more.

I looked online for some activity comparison, and it seems that swimming comes out on top as far as calories burned, makes sense because you're using your whole body, and not just your legs. Bowling ranks pretty low on the calorie burn, and those are definitely cancelled out by any beer you drink. Sex ranks averagely, but all the calorie adjusters time everything in either 30 or 60 minute bouts, and not even porn stars go for a full 60 minutes. (Watching porn earns you the same calorie burn as watching TV does -- about 15 calories an hour -- you actually burn more calories and use more brain activity in your sleep.) Cleaning can be quite the workout, which I already knew, but so can going to the grocery store or washing your car.

The recommendation? Add activity wherever you can: hand wash your car instead of going to the car wash, hand wash dishes instead of loading them in the dish washer, park further away in the mall parking lot and walk, take the stairs versus riding up in the elevator, and mow the grass with a push mower instead of a riding unit (which, by the way, the crew that cuts the grass around our condo has a cool lawnmower that you stand on! It's like a futuristic ride -- it looks super duper fun, but I don't think they'd let me test it out).

So I guess I've got to go and mop the floor on my hands and knees. Nothing like adding a little hard labor to my day! Ta-ta!

1 comment:

Richard said...

Very cool! When I was losing weight (about 80 lbs total, not all at once) I didn't deny myself anything but would always read the labels and translate the calories into miles, minutes, or hours. If I though it was worth it, I ate it, but a lot of time it just went back onto the shelf. I don't know why more people don't do that, actually.