Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Why I hate math and working out

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 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.

Why try?


  1. I like math - so here's your solution. An average adult male taking in 2000 calories will burn, on average, ~83 calories per hour just by being alive. If you burned 257 calories by exercising, then you have a net gain of 174 burned calories. However, one might also assume that since you would have burned those 83 calories by merely living, the independent factor of exercising adds those 257 burned calories to your baseline for a total of 340 for the hour. either way, its a net loss of calories.

    Or, I could be wrong.

  2. According to my research, your numbers are right -- I burn about 85 calories an hour just by sitting around. So when I went to the gym this morning and ran 3 miles and burned 300 calories, I really only burned 215 that wouldn't otherwise be burned. That seems sort of silly. Maybe I should start a new business -- a "Sit and Gym". People can come in and, for a fee, sit quietly on a comfy couch, and be guaranteed that they lose 85 calories.


Feel free to comment and understand that no matter what you type, I still think you are a robot.