I was never meant to be an active person. I was also never meant to think. These two things cause problems. And when I mix them together, more problems.
I have started going to the gym. By "started" I mean I have gone twice for about an hour each time. Once I used 2 machines, and once, only 1 machine. These fancy contraptions show you everything from how many seconds you have been exercising to how many calories you have burnt to your IQ and a nice recipe for a lemon souffle. I, for lack of anything else, spent much of the hour staring at the read out. Fascinating stuff. After about 45 minutes of exercise (on a level which was demanding of me...I even sweated...gross, right?) I was on track to burn about 257 calories an hour. Wow, I thought, I can eat a whole single serving of applesauce and 30 peanuts now with no guilt! Huzzah.
Then my math stupidity started creeping in. According to much of what I read, adult, human males should be on a 2000 calorie a day diet. That's from the USRDA http://caloriecount.about.com/cc/2000-calorie-diet.php so don't yell at me.
2,000 calories in a day. That means, I would need to work out at that relatively intense level for 8 hours in order to burn off what I eat. I know, though, that the goal is not simply to burn off everything I eat -- I'm sure I'm supposed to hold on to some of the calories, right? Can't I lose weight by, um, burning less than I eat?
My job is not an athletic one. Even if I walk around a bunch, I also stand in front of a class, or sit grading papers. There is no way that I can claim to be at the proper level of activity for any length of time -- even going to the gym for that one hour can't do much, then. How many calories could I possibly burn during the course of an average day? 500 (if I go to the gym for an hour and then just live my life the rest of the time)? So in order to lose weight, even going to the gym, I have to live on 2 empty wraps a day while I am walking briskly, constantly. Then I can close the day off with a thimbleful of orange juice.
Even if I were to ratchet up my activity and sprint everywhere so I am on track to lose 450 calories an hour -- I would need to sprint for 4 hours straight to burn off the day's food, and I would probably collapse well before that.