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How to eat skinny. Shall we do the math?

January 2012
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There is a trick to watching what one eats but I really can’t give it to you because I don’t know what it is.  I eat whatever I want, whenever I want.  My secret to staying svelte lies in the definition of what “want” is and it is not the same as the definition of “is”, but I’ll get to that in a moment.  We all know that if one consumes more calories than one burns, one will gain weight – this is not rocket science.  Where it gets ugly, at least for me, is when you have to figure out how many calories you burn in a day and then try to figure out how many calories are in what you eat…that is rocket science, or close enough for me to go the other way and just burn a bunch off and hope it all works out in the end.  So far, so good.

Just for this post, I started to research this a little bit because I wanted to get an idea of what it means to count things up.  I was really skinny when I was a young lad, then filled out after I quit drinking (at least a little bit).  My weight jumped, but only after I quit smoking cigarettes and it did so quickly.  In fact, I’d guess that I was actually overweight for maybe six months at the most and all I did to reverse that was to run three times a week which got me down to 171.  The addition of cycling got me down to 158…  That’s about all I know…

Alright, the research hasn’t helped much, perhaps because I’m searching for the wrong topics and that caused me to land on articles that border on utter stupidity, like this one, in which an Australian researcher comments on American obesity:  “The food industry has done such a great job of marketing their products, making the food so tasty that it’s almost irresistible, pricing their products just right, and placing them everywhere, that it is very hard for the average person to resist temptation. Food is virtually everywhere, probably even in churches and funeral parlors.” [emphasis is mine]

You quite literally have to be an idiot to state (let alone believe) that food in America is “even in churches and funeral parlors”, so an intelligent person couldn’t possibly trust his results – they’ll obviously be skewed by his ideology…in fact, that use of the word “probably” in that sentence alone shows that this yahoo has absolutely no idea what he’s talking about.  Never mind the marketing and the tasty food comment – stinkin’ cardboard eating pansies.  I would have to kick my own ass just for trying to blame obesity on marketing and making food too tasty.  So the research is going out the door because I don’t have a day to devote to picking through the garbage.

Let’s just say that everything about my weight relies on the definition of “what I want”.  If what I want is less than that which I need to maintain my weight, I’ll lose weight.  If it’s more, I’ll gain.  If I pay attention to what my body is telling my melon, I’ll end up maintaining my weight (this comes with risk, the more I become accustomed to eating, the more I’ll want).  With that, there are some do’s and don’ts to this.  I used to drink cola like it was going out of style.  Four 2 liter bottles a week, minimum.  I was stuck at 171 for the longest time – and one of the sure things that helped me drop that extra 13 beyond cycling was eliminating cola – or a minimum of 3,480 (empty) calories a week.  As a treat, I splurge with 7-Up now.  Otherwise, it’s water or flavored water now (man, that raspberry is some good H2O).  I’ve also got a sweet tooth that I have to watch…when I’m down to 157 I can afford a few small bags of candy throughout the week, when I’m at 162 I can’t – it’s apples and bananas.

For instance, today for breakfast, I “wanted” an apple and a banana and several cups of coffee.  That’s enough and I don’t even know if I’ll bother with lunch after that (I didn’t yesterday), but I’ve got a small chicken quesadilla if I’m hungry (leftover from dinner last night, my wife makes a mean quesadilla).  For dinner tonight, I’ll splurge with three or four pieces of pizza, a couple of cheesy bread sticks and a glass or two of 7-Up – Wednesday is pizza night at my house.  Now that’s about what “I want” in a day on the high side.  Let’s do some math because I threw the research out the window (this will be the very first time I’ve ever checked).  4 Pcs Deep Dish Pizza:  1,440 kcal, Two glasses 7Up:  O kcal, 2 Pcs Cheesy bread sticks:  260 kcal, One apple:  116 kcal, One banana:  106 kcal, One small Chicken, Cheese and Jalapeno Quesadilla (homemade):  Call it 400 kcal*.  6 cups of coffee (brewed, black – no junk):  12 kcal  .  *The homemade stuff is where I get messed up, I’m not about to take the time to measure each little item I eat to figure out the calories.

That’s a grand total of 2,334 calories and I won’t feel hungry or that I’ve sacrificed.  Just for fun, I want to see if I can figure out how many calories I naturally burn in a day…  If I go by this method of calculation, I need between 2,433 and 2528 calories per day to stay where I am (the low-end is moderately active and the high-end is very active).  The main point is that I’m within 200 calories of where I need to be, naturally and without any counting but this is where it gets tough…according to that calculation method I burn through 2,433 calories a day, but I move so I have to replace the calories used during exercise to maintain my weight (or not, to lose).  In other words, my basal (or base) metabolic rate is 2,433 but I run 7 miles on Saturday burning 884 calories and I spin 60 miles in a week for another 1,456 – I have to replace those also to maintain my weight.   I need to fit in a Big Mac or two in there somewhere, but that’s a good problem to have.  Also, this is just my new winter schedule.  In the heat of the summer, take August, I burned an average of 7,985 calories a week.  It takes a lot of food to replace 8,000 calories in a week.  But I managed to keep my weight (minus the 13).

I’ve written about this before and it really comes down to definitions.  I eat until I am full and then I push away from the table (even if there is still food on my plate).  My definition of full means I can go out for a run in an hour and do reasonably well.  It does not mean I’ve gotta loosen my belt, pop the top button on my jeans and sit on the couch for two hours to digest what I’ve eaten…  I only do that on Thanksgiving day.  This wasn’t always the case and I had to give a few things up to get to where I’m at but in the end, it’s all about those Triathlons and looking good.  I love both more than a few glasses of cola with dinner (though I felt like I’d have to gnaw my arm off the first week to kick it, but now that I’m past the initial suckiness that stuff tastes like drinking syrup and I don’t even like it any more).  And I really dig writing “taught buttocks”, it just reads like pure awesomeness.

UPDATE:  I have the actuals from yesterday’s estimated caloric intake and expenditure.  My normal half hour spin was at a slower speed (25 mph) but at a higher cadence (low:100 rpm avg: 110 high:  130) and in a higher (easier) gear 52×15 to give my legs a bit of a recovery and it worked well, I feel a lot better today than I did yesterday but my ride was a little longer and I ended up burning a little over 400 kcal instead of 364.  On the food front, I did eat the quesadilla but I could only eat three pieces of pizza and I’d budgeted for four.  In addition, I had 2 servings of Sierra Mist @ 140 kcal each in lieu of 7Up at zero.  This goes back to the definition of “want”.  Could I have eaten that extra piece to get my caloric intake square?  Absolutely, in fact, because I don’t want to lose any more weight it can be argued that I should have.  Paying attention to my body though, I was full and that was what I want.  I don’t like being so full that I feel bloated and that is where I would have been had I eaten the extra slice.  So call that another pair of ducks – and I’ll have a Whopper combo meal tonight for dinner to balance me out.

As a final note, there is one very important point:  It is my understanding that if a person overeats repetitively for an extended period of time, the stomach stretches.  Thus, an obese or even overweight person would feel full long after the proper caloric intake necessary for the day was exceeded.  My way of doing things will absolutely not work in those cases – the counting must be done, at least until one becomes used to what the proper amount of food is and feels like.

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6 Comments

  1. I don’t think the Obesity Epidemic was that bad. He did have some facts to back up what he was saying. I think any writer that puts words like “solely” or “never” is asking for trouble though. He may have data to back up his claims, but when you see morbidly obese individuals at the store riding on scooters and such, its hard to imaging that a sedentary lifestyle hasn’t played a significant role.

    In my case, I know I have moved far less than I did when I was in the military and as a child. I have overeaten for quite some time, but when I was younger I moved enough that it never mattered (not unlike yourself at times from what I’ve read). I have to realize that as I reach 40 I will have to count calories for at least the near term until I can get my weight moving in the right direction. Being ripped would be nice, but really I just want to be “healthy”.

    Great post!

    • bgddyjim says:

      Than you for the comment,

      I’m a big believer in cause and effect in lieu of laying blame, especially when a supposed scientist makes the claim that Americans are reaching obesity because our food is too tasty to resist – and then tries to water that down by adding “almost”. Though it’s easy to blame someone else’s obesity on marketing, pricing and tasty food (or another person’s greed – put less mildly), that attitude alone contributes to the problem by laying blame, and thereby responsibility, on someone else. Resolving the problem on a person by person basis, naturally shifts the responsibility elsewhere.

      That line also follows the ‘blame Americans for hunger in other continents because they eat too much food” movement that was gaining in popularity several years ago…but that’s getting into politics.

      In the end, I have to take responsibility for my own actions, as does any other person. Where I get bent is when a scientist mischaracterizes the desire to sell a product (or even have a restaurant that makes it) by turning it into a desire to fatten up America because of greed.

      Perhaps I should be thankful. I have always wanted to visit Australia, I suppose I should rethink that based on the fact that they lack the ability to cook a decent meal. Maybe we should turn that into a commercial…

  2. […] it doesn’t take rocket science to figure out what’s going on.  In my post “How to eat skinny.  Shall we do the math?“  I wrote:  “The main point is that I’m within 200 calories of where I need to be, […]

  3. […] that I’m burning…  On the other hand, I’ve only ever counted my calories once – in 41 years of pumping air on this planet.  I can use that information like I can use a […]

  4. […] So with the diet part documented and out of the way, let’s get to what really makes everything work like a well-oiled machine…  The workout. […]

  5. […] isn’t enough to go by, I wrote a post where I broke down my caloric intake on a couple of average days – I did the […]

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