Lifestyle 101: Day 3 – Can you outrun what you eat?

Today I went through LLU’s free Lifestyle 101 Day 3 video. If you want to see my thoughts on the earlier installments, you can find them:

Day 1: Overview
Day 2: Adventures with Food

A few more quick notes:

1 – Yesterday I said I expected to get an email to find day 2. I did eventually get one, but it came later in the day. It seems like they might want to change that to allow people to do view it earlier
2 – As part of the program, this morning I received a quick note on heart rate monitors. Nice little touch.

Moving on, today’s discussion has David Greenwalt talking about the value of developing an actively fit lifestyle. In other words, why it’s important and valuable to move more. (grin)

It’s another great part of the program, though I admit that the argumentative side of my brain still gets tangled up in the base logic. Let’s dig into the message …

I’ll break this discussion into two parts–first, the mechanics of exercise and weight loss, and then second, the emotional value of exercise.

Day 3: The Video (Mechanics)

David G starts here by noting that on the Biggest Losers campus, participants exercise 6-8 hours a day, 6 days a week, yet sometimes they don’t lose anything. He then uses a catch-phrase to explain this, and that catch phrase is: “You can’t outrun what you can eat.”

Ron’s aside: This is, of course, incorrect. Or, actually, it’s better to say that this is only correct when you over-eat (meaning take in a lot of calories). In fact …

He then goes on to use an example of walking for an hour (which burns, say, 500 calories) being totally wiped away in a couple minutes by eating a cup of ice cream (which is ~500 calories). This is, of course, true. But …

Realize that David G. is playing a bit of a shell game with his example. If you’re eating reasonably well and staying in your calorie budget, you most certainly can and will out-run what you eat. Replace the ice cream with an apple (probably 100 calories), and you’re fine. I mean, you can most definitely “out-run what you eat” if you eat reasonably well. Otherwise, you flat-out could not possibly lose weight. Ever.

This is actually another reason why it’s important to follow rule #2 from yesterday’s video.

I think what he’s really trying to say with his catch phrase is that your capacity to over-eat (take in calories) is nearly limitless if you’re not thinking about it, whereas your ability to burn calories is boxed by time and physical limitations.

Personally, I like to think about the calorie box in the reverse of what he’s proposing–rather than think of exercise as being wiped out by eating, think of it as enabling me to eat more of what I want. In this framework, the size of my calorie box starts out with my base metabolism (let’s say 1900 calories), and if I walk for an hour, that gives me an extra 500 calories, so I can now go as far as 2400 today and still be fine. This works better (to my psychological make-up) because while I’m “losing” I can decide to not eat the extra 500 calories and bank it under weight loss, and then once I get to maintenance mode I can still use the exact same framework to decide whether I can eat that brownie or not, ans still be okay.

This also helps in the “losing” portion of the curve because I can only lose so much by controlling diet (assuming I’m maintaining my health, anyway). By this, I mean I probably need to be taking in at least 1300-1500 or so calories a day in order to maintain my base health. So if my metabolism burns 1900, I can’t lose more than 400-600 calories a day (or roughly .2 pounds)–and that’s not even touching on the fact that constraining myself to that kind of caloric intake can be hard and a shade hurtful. The bottom line for me is that if I want to lose weight with any practical rapidity at all, I need to move more–I need to eat well, and I need to fundamentally outrun what I eat.

In the mechanics of my own personal weight-control framework, managing diet is important to keep me from gaining, and exercise is important because it enables me to lose rapidly, and because …

Day 3: The Video (Emotional)

Regardless of how you feel about the semantics of the conversation above, I think the best part of the LLU argument for a more active lifestyle (moving more!) is that proper exercise helps your brain emit chemicals that help you feel good.

Feeling good is, of course, a vital part of the process (which, I’m assuming will be deeply covered even more deeply in the emotional health video tomorrow).

David G. spends considerable time discussing how contented and optimistic people are more energized and awake, how they remain more conscious of their situation, have better resilience, make better decisions, and exhibit better eating behaviors. The idea here is that exercise is a vital element that supports your emotional fitness–which is a critical part of long-term success.

So much “yes” here.

Then David G winds up the discussion with a pitch for resistance training (anything that makes muscles push against something else) as a way to combat age-related muscle loss, as a way to keep your metabolism going, and as a way to just look better (hence feel better). I like his note that a pound of muscle takes up 1/3 the size of a pound of fat–and his pointing out to women in particular that resistance training does not mean “bulking up.”

Bottom line, the entire video is a really good message, despite my foray into what some will probably consider pedantic logic arguments.

In addition to the videos, the free program comes with access to MP3 podcasts that discuss cardio work outs and resistance training. I’ll try to listen to these later today and will talk about them as it strikes me.

Daily Progress vs. Plan:

Day 1:
Calories eaten: * 1907 (target = 1887)
Calories exercising: 778 (target = 429)
Balance: 329 calories better than “plan”
Carb: 59% vs. 30% guideline
Protein: 17% vs. 40% guideline
Fat: 24% vs. 30% guideline

Day 2:
Calories eaten: * 1648 (target = 1887)
Calories exercising: 681 (target = 429)
Balance: 491 calories better than “plan”
Carb: 52% vs. 30% guideline
Protein: 22% vs. 40% guideline
Fat: 26% vs. 30% guideline

Calories eaten: * xxxx (target = 1887)
Calories exercising: xxxx (target = 429)
Balance: xxx calories better than “plan”
Carb: xx% vs. 30% guideline
Protein: xx% vs. 40% guideline
Fat: 26% vs. xx% guideline

* I note that the determination of calories eaten and carb/protein/fat breakdown, is (as always) very hard–especially since I’ve eaten at restaurants both nights, and, given this, I’ve had to fudge the data by picking other foods that I thought were representative of what I ate. This is, of course, problematic. I think I’m trying to be pragmatic in my selection of “substitutes.” But what do I know, eh? Regardless, I am generally of a mind that for most normal people, merely paying attention and trying to make good choices wins the day most of the time. As we learned in yesterday’s session, it’s not about being perfect … and assuming I’m moderately close in my scoring, I’m kinda outrunning what I’m eating. (grin)

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