Sometimes I just want to put my feet up and not exercise for a day, don’t you? Or maybe have a big, juicy hamburger with lettuce and tomato sitting on a lovely brioche bun. On the side would be a mound of delicious hand cut French fries with a nice coating of sea salt. That lovely meal, my friend, will cost you anywhere between 600 to 1800 total calories depending on what fast food or other restaurant outlet prepared it. Just the saturated fat count alone comes in between 40- 60 mg. Also, let’s not forget about the 1000 mg or more of sodium involved depending on what condiments you add for just one meal. No wonder this menu item claims the title of the All-American meal.
If I want to eat this what do I have to pay in sweat equity in order for me to balance out the calories? Grab a pencil because this is math. I need to think seriously about this. The real question is what are my arteries worth to me? How is the quality of my life going to change when I eat high fat, sugar and salt foods if I do not exercise enough so my blood values stay normal? I do not want to do anything that will permanently damage any important body organ I might need for tomorrow, like my heart or my kidneys.
“But I exercise”, you say. Ok fine, if you go to an aerobics class once a week you burn an average of 400-600 calories depending on the impact capacity of low vs high. If you count steps then one mile equals approximately 2000 steps. Thus, 10,000 steps is equivalent to walking five miles. If you get to class every day or get in your 10,000 steps on a daily basis and eat a healthy diet you should lose weight faster as long as you watch your caloric intake. But how many of us do that regularly?
It takes 3500 calories of work (exercise), over the number of calories you eat as food, to burn one pound of body weight. Divide this number by seven days in a week and you would have to burn 500 calories a day, every day of the week to lose one pound per week. This burger and fries meal could be 1800 calories or more and probably that won’t be the only meal eaten that day. If you eat these 1800 calories per meal or even just one meal every day or just a few days per week, it explains how the average person gains weight. Of course, the opposite is true as well. Burn a greater amount of calories than you eat and you will lose weight. It is still the same problem but in reverse. To be at optimal health know your personal blood values, such as blood sugar, cholesterol, and blood pressure. You and your doctor will find the right combination of diet and exercise that gets your blood values normal. A Registered Dietitian is the expert in nutritional training who can help you put all the diet and exercise pieces together to stay healthy. The goal is in the numbers.