My blog today is a bit serious and long winded, but that's where I am today.
If you haven't heard of Sean Croxton or Underground Wellness, it's time you did. Sean has a website, a YouTube channel, a book... he isn't hard to find and he's worth the effort.
Sean was once a personal trainer with the "burn more calories than you consume" type of program. He saw that this equation wasn't really working in the long run and he began to question everything he had learned about losing fat. When you start to question the old school thoughts and "truths" you put yourself out on a limb....the fringe....the Dark Side.
Looking at my own experience and listening to Sean and his Dark Side minions has me doing a little math today:
When I was younger, I did everything "wrong" nutritionally. I was overweight and I was gaining about 15 - 20 pounds per year. I've done a lot of math about this.
If there are 3,500 calories to the pound, and if I gained 20 pounds per year, I was taking in an excess of 70,000 calories per year, or 192 calories per day.
That means that I would have to have been eating healthfully, as I am now, and adding in just one extra snack.
...but I know that wasn't the case. I grew up in the South in a home in which every simple carb you can name was deep fried. Doughnuts were my favorite breakfast and I often ate fast food twice a day. As a young adult I knew the schedule of the vending machine guy, Carl, and I snacked constantly at my desk. I easily went through a 6 pack a day of Coca-Cola and then moved on to several beers. Evenings were spent in front of the TV with a bag of microwave popcorn and a bag of Doritos. I usually finished all the Doritos.
Doritos are around 140 calories per ounce - a family sized bag is 17 ounces - that's 2,380 calories per bag.
A six pack of 12 ounce cans of coke is around 870 calories.
A Big Mac (my favorite lunch) and fries is a little over 1,000 calories.
I never stopped at just one doughnut, I had 2 or 3 each morning. They knew me by name at the doughnut shop and got worried if I was late. At about 300 calories a doughnut that's at least 600.
Adding that all up, it's around 4,850 calories and I haven't accounted for dinner, snacks, or beer yet.
Let's say I had an average basic metabolic rate of 3,000 - that is that I needed 3,000 calories per day just to breathe and keep my heart beating. There is no way it could have been that high, but I'll use that number to be generously conservative.
If I take the 4,850 plus calories that I was consuming and subtract the 3,000 for my BMR, this means that I was eating AT LEAST an excess of 1,800 calories per day. That's a very conservative number, too, it was probably more like 3,000 plus. Still, let's take that conservative number of 1,800.
At 1,800 excess calories per day I should have gained over 180 pounds per year. I only gained 15 - 20. Where did those other 160 pounds worth of calories go?
Did I burn them off in the gym? Nope. I've spent the majority of my adult life sitting on my butt. I would remember if I had been doing something that was burning off about 1,800 calories per day.
This math just doesn't work. The old calories in - calories out idea doesn't work.
A) one pound does not equal 3,500 calories, or
B) something happened with my metabolism that can't be explained by just saying, "Burn more than you consume."
... or maybe it's both.
My point is this: the idea that losing weight is a simple math problem doesn't work. I no longer believe it. I'm with Sean on the Dark Side. I'm questioning everything. Sure I'm getting healthier and sure I'm losing weight, but the more I use that food tracker and the more I use that exercise tracker, the more I can see that the numbers don't add up.
Now I'm not dissing Spark. I love Spark. I am, in fact, a little zealous about it at this point. However, I'm finding that the nutrition tracker and fitness tracker are not working well for me right now. They are not helping me make sense of what is going on in my body.
I love seeing those fitness minutes accumulate and I love tracking my run/walk mileage, so I may do that without tracking calories burned.
I'm not saying that anyone else should do this. I'm just at a point where I need to do it and believe that I can do it. (I no longer binge, I am not an emotional eater, and I can exercise for the fun of it, not just to burn calories.)
I'm going to try to not weigh in, not measure or track my food, not track my calories burned, and focus purely on my health for the next 30 days of my 90 day plan.
Sean says, very loosely quoted, "We are told to lose fat in order to get healthy, but actually, we have to get healthy in order to lose fat."
Here's the video that started this whole math thing for me:
The 3,500 Calorie Myth