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Thoughts on Weight-loss

Shocking stats, laws of thermodynamics and rhetoric.

by Ron

You want to know what is so cool about being a triathlete?  It's the ability to eat whatever and how much of virtually anything and still stay relatively thin!  How do we do it?  No, we do not have a strict diet...absolutely not.  The only thing we have to worry about is not enough to eat!  To lose weight, there is only one equation that can work without violating the First Law of Thermodynamics:

Calories in = Calories out

Now go one step further...

Calories in - Calories out = Weight gain or loss

Why don't people see this?  Any of the 'quick' weight loss programs are just that...quick.  The side effect is that it is usually temporary and you end up gaining back all of your lost weight plus more.   "Lean, active people are successful eating larger amounts of food while remaining  skinny, but it's not because of there 'unaturally high metabolism'  Really, genetics is not really the difference between the overweight person and the lean one; it's the calorie in/calorie out balance working to those active peoples favor."1  

A recent study indicates that genetics only plays, on average, 30% of body size variability in humans...that means that we are in control of the other 70%!!!


No Excuses.  No Whining.  If you are unhappy about the way you look or feel, then you better stop complaining about it and really do something about it.  FOCUS, PUT SOME BACK INTO IT! 

If you don't want to put 110% into making change, then you have already failed.  You won't get far from the starting line.  Remember...

In the words of Sally Edwards, Ironman competitor "...set aside a certain time of day, 3-6 days per week, and call that an appointment, an appointment with your workout.  It is just as important as an appointment with your banker, doctor or hair stylist."

How about me for an example.  I am super active (triathlons/weightlifting) and I weigh 170 pounds.  I am burning around 4000 calories around the height of my training program.  The only weight I am gaining is the slow-growing muscle mass from lifting.  The triathlon training keeps me slim.  There is really no weight gain or loss for me during tri season.  So, that can only mean I am consuming about 3-4000 calories each day.  Obviously if I were sedentary at 170 pound this would be the death of me as a 170 pound sedentary man only uses 2000 calories.  So the key to losing weight is to count your calories.  You only lose weight if you burn more than you take in.  So that leaves two options.  One, reduce your caloric intake if you plan to maintain your current activity level or, two, continue eating like a pig and become a triathlete - burn them calories!  I like the second option.  I enjoy physical activity and I love to eat - especially like a pig!

Want to know exactly what happens to your body between meals, when you eat and when you exercise?   This is the KEY to understanding weightloss. 

How about some cool calculators...

          Nutritional needs  

Here is a shocking fact from Triathlons for Fun:

'What Americans are most prone to suffer from, however, is "creeping " fat.  In the California Diet, by Stanford University's Dr. Peter Wood, a very clear explanation is offered: "the typical overweight American at age 50 has put on two pounds of fat each year since he/she was 20 years old.  So, at 50, he/she is 30-60 pounds overweight - and it shows.  But a gain of one to two pounds of fat each year means eating only 10-20 calories too much each day on average, or no more than a quarter of a small banana.'

This creeping fat syndrome can be explained in another way.  When we hit our 20's to 30's, our lives become more more sports during or after school, family life, we are not growing anymore, etc,...we do stay busy BUT we are not using much energy.  When we use our muscles less and less, that is telling our bodies to get rid of them.  Consequently we experience muscle loss.  IF we are maintaining the same diet, we are actually consuming more calories than we need (since we got rid of some muscle).  These unused calories get turned into fat.  Fat takes much less energy to maintain than muscle.  Make sense?

The following links are tables taken out of Trathlons for Fun by Sally Edwards, Triathlete Magazine, 1992.  These are interesting tables showing the calories expended for various activities.

The first is Job Calories Per Minute  Describes the amount of calories expended for various daily activities.

The second table is Daily Activities Calories Per Minute  Describes the calories burned for biking, swimming and running.

The final table Daily Calorie Allowance Table  Describes the calories burned per day based on your activity level and weight.

The following table is from Triathloning for Ordinary Mortals by Steven Jonas, M.D. W.W Norton and Company, 1999

Body-Build Charts.  This chart gives one their ideal weight based on age and height.

If you know your basal metabolic rate, you can use these tables to get a ballpark figure on the amount of calories you burn during the course of a day.  This will allow you to tailor your diet to slowly lose weight (if you are overweight) or maybe to gain weight if you want to weight-lift too.

1 Triathlons for Fun by Sally Edwards, Triathlete Magazine, 1992


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