Saturday, March 12, 2016

Calories: a rant

You know what bugs me?

The things people write about how you have to exercise X amount if you eat X food. Well, yeah, OK, it makes people think about what they eat and how they need to be physically active. But to shame people from eating M&Ms because you have to walk 120 yards to burn off the WHOLE THREE CALORIES from one M&M?

Why don't we admit that a bite of apple is 3 calories and shame people from eating apples?

Or let's talk about healthy lean protein: OMG! You have to walk two miles to wear off a 200 calorie serving!

Let's also admit that 3 freaking calories is NOTHING. There are 1600-ish calories in a pound of butter. Eating one M&M (or not) will NOT even be worth an ounce either way. Eating a freaking POUND of M&Ms (2000+ calories) is not important in the long run. Eating a pound of M&Ms every day would be, absolutely.

And also, living burns calories. Let's calculate how many calories you burn by lying down and reading a good book. And do you burn more by reading a thriller with heart-pounding action? Or a romance with heart-pounding, er, pounding?

The sum of ANY healthy-eating and exercise plan is to burn the calories that you eat. If you need to weigh more, then eat more than you burn. If you need to weigh less, eat less than you burn. Either way, you should be getting exercise if you can. If you can't, then yes, you might have to look into eating fewer calories.

No, it's not easy to stick to any diet. Our bodies are designed by nature to carry extra weight, just in case there's a famine. 

And then there's the problem of emotional eating. One study showed that half of all obese people were subjected to childhood trauma: physical and emotional abuse, neglect, sexual abuse, and so on. 

If you find a diet and exercise plan that can help you achieve your goals (and let's keep the goals realistic, OK?), then by all means try it. If your diet makes you miserable you are:
a) not likely to stick to it
b) you're likely to wash out if you slip sometimes and are made to feel like a failure (by someone pointing out how far you have to run for each M&M), and
c) even if you do stick to it, the rebound where you eat all the M&Ms is going to be more extreme if your diet plan has been extreme.

And then we get to the part where we admit that diets don't work in the long run. Very few people on ANY kind of restrictive eating plan actually keep the weight off (95% regain the weight within 5 years: UCLA and just about everyone else have pointed this out).

What does work? 
Healthy eating.
Regular exercise.
Not hating your body.
Not hating yourself.

As was obvious in my post about buying bras and shapewear, I have not yet mastered this last bit and am trying to figure out healthy eating and exercise. I lost quite a bit of weight a few years ago and have gained some of it back. This past year, I have packed on 20 pounds. I also think my thyroid has finally crapped out and my pre-diabetes is getting worse. But I'm back to keeping track of what I eat and pushing myself to walk more.

But PLEASE, pretty please, don't obsess about how many calories are in one M&M and how far you have to run to burn off X number of calories.

I was going to say something about eating kale, but kale makes me gag.

So... spinach and a wide variety of brightly-colored (naturally brightly-colored) fruits and vegetables are great. Eat whole grains instead of white bread, pasta, and rice. Adequate protein helps you regulate blood sugar and gives more of a slow burn.

But if sometimes you get your bright colors from M&Ms, then accept that as what you needed at that moment. 

And on an unrelated note: go forth and pre-order my second novel, The Honorable Officer. Road trip  across the breadth of 17th century France to escape kidnapping assassins.

While you're eagerly waiting for April 6th, you can read the first in the series, The Indispensable Wife, in which Dom and Aurore have to get their land and their relationship back together after all sorts of disasters. 

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