Sick of fad diets?
Frustrated with the latest natural fat-burning supplement that's done nothing but burn a hole in your pocket?
With summer approaching, it's time to get in shape and drop those pounds. It's also time to do it sensibly. While I'm not going to challenge the fact that losing weight is easier for some than for others, I do believe there's a rational approach that has potential benefits for everyone.
It doesn't take a rocket scientist to realize that calories simply add up - cutting out that extra soft drink or dessert snack each day really does make a difference at the end of the month. Yet I'm not going to ask you to eat less or to give up any food you enjoy. I suggest you use your best judgment, or see a registered nutritionist if that?s the course you wish to pursue.
This column instead focuses on caloric burning and day to day "activity." The underlying premise is based upon a rather straight-forward physical law that states, "the more energy you expend, the more calories you burn and the more weight you lose." Assuming your caloric intake doesn't increase, I doubt anyone could challenge this statement.
You're probably saying to yourself that historically we were more active in years past. People often mention that in our Heart to Heart cardiac classes. They cite activities such as hunting for food, walking into town, fetching water, making fire, tilling the soil, scrubbing clothes, gathering vegetables, and spending the better part of a day preparing meals. Such is a far cry from modern civilization.
If controlling our weight means reverting to such a lifestyle, I suppose we'll opt for staying where we are. No doubt our ancestors expended more energy - getting through each day was far more physically challenging in those days. It's also a fact that the first case of atherosclerotic heart disease (hardening of the arteries due to accumulations of cholesterol, etc.) wasn't detected until the early 1900s.
If you're about to put down this column because you're expecting me to tell you that in order to lose weight, you have to go back to your grandparent's way of life, please stay with me for a moment. What I'm about to suggest has nothing at all to do with giving anything up or reverting to the horse and buggy days.
Prepare yourself for a dose of reality!
Our nutritionist, Jane Livingston, handed me a rather surprising list of 19 activities she received at a recently attended conference. The list was developed by the Institute for National Resources in Concord, CA. It includes the caloric expenditures that are typical for activities of life that most of us take for granted. The worksheet compared these with possible alternatives and projected potential calorie burning benefits.
They compared activities such as:
This eye-opening list goes on to a point at which we have to rethink the redeeming value of the conveniences we've built into our lives. While the caloric benefits seem rather limited, they do add up to far more than you might expect. According to this analysis, the numbers suggest 10,500 calories per month vs. 1,700 calories per month. Burning an additional 8,800 calories per month (brace yourself) could result in a weight loss of 2.5 pounds per month or 30 pounds per year!
- walking a dog for 30 minutes compared with letting the dog out the back door (125 calories vs. 2 calories)
- washing and waxing a car compared with driving to a car wash and getting in and out of the car to pay (300 calories vs. 18 calories)
- walking up one flight of stairs 3 times a day vs. taking the elevator (15 calories vs. 0.3 calories)
- parking a car, and going into a bank, dry cleaners and convenience store 3 times/week vs. sitting in the car at drive through windows (70 calories vs. 15 calories)
- getting up and answering the phone; standing during a 3 10-minute conversation vs. answering with the cordless phone nearby and talking while reclining (20 calories vs. 4 calories)
And there's also an added benefit. It's called getting in shape!
So if your slacks are tight and your wardrobe doesn?t seem to fit anymore, now's the time to take action and develop a sensible foundation for better controlling your weight. Coupled with a logical nutritional approach, the REAL potential of using this strategy is compelling.
Enough said ... I have to run. The phone is ringing and the cordless is no longer appealing - Mind Over Matter!
© 2000 Barry Bittman,
MD all rights reserved