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Tom’s Fitness and Paris Martial Arts

THE WIND, MATH, AND YOU!

Posted: July 02, 2009

I had the opportunity to do a couple concerts and “Bodies-in-Balance—How to Eat Right & Exercise Smart” seminars recently. One was at a church over in Chenoa, IL last Wednesday night. I’d never heard of Chenoa before, but it was a nice drive and a nice little town.

Map Quest took me the most direct route, which is through the country, right through the middle of a wind farm. I’d seen them on TV, but it was something to see up close: 50 or so giant wind turbine generators, all turning slowly and majestically.

Someone told me that each turbine can produce enough electricity to power 3,000 homes. I’m not sure if it’s true, but it sounded pretty good to me. There are some drawbacks, though.

They’re expensive to build (what isn’t), and some people don’t like looking at them, although they were smack dab in the middle of corn fields. You could see them for miles, though, so it’s an issue. My dad was telling me that they also make quite a roaring sound. Still, they’re pretty impressive.

We need to be like those wind turbines. Like them, we need to be moving all the time—sometimes slowly, sometimes a little faster, but always moving. Being lean and fit is about looking for every opportunity to keep our generator turning.

Take a walk in the morning. Take the stairs. Park further away. Ride your bike to work. Do outdoors work. Play basketball with your friends. Play softball. Play games with your kids. When they’re swimming, don’t just watch them—you swim too.

An active lifestyle will help you burn more calories throughout the day, and in the end, it’s just math. Burn more calories than you consume and you’ll lose weight, assuming you’re hitting your minimum. According to the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), women should never go below 1,200 calories a day, and guys need at least 1,800 calories.

A good strategy is to do some exercise in the morning first thing. Walking a mile a day takes just 20 minutes at a very comfortable pace (3.0 mph). Then later, you can get your main workout in. If you’ve sprinkled a bunch of little workouts in during the day, you can end up burning quite a few calories.

Moderate activity burns around 5 calories a minute. Intense exercise can burn as much as 10 calories a minute. You can even get up to 15 calories a minute if you work hard enough, but it’s tough to sustain that very long. If you’re in pretty good shape, you can do 10 calories a minute for around an hour. That’s 500-600 calories.

Plus you have another 100-200 calories from the morning walk. Then you might have another 200-300 calories from doing other little things throughout the day. That means you might be able to burn around 800-1,000 calories a day through activity.

Now add that to the minimum calories your body uses to live and you can be burning around 2,000 calories a day. Let’s say you’re a woman between 5’ and 5’6 (average size) and want to lose weight. If you do all that activity and end up burning 2,000 calories a day, but only take in 1,500 calories, that’s 500 calories less than you’re going to need. So where will those 500 calories come from?

They’ll have to come from fat. You needed 2,000 a day to live, workout, and do all the other stuff you do. You took in 1,500. The 500 calories you’re short are called a calorie deficit. We know all about deficits, right? It means spending something you don’t have.

Debt can lead to huge problems, but in this case, it’s a good thing. A pound of fat is 3,500 calories. So at the end of the day, if you have a 500 calorie deficit, seven days in a row, you’ll lose one pound of fat. See how it works? 500 calories x 7 days = 3,500 total calories. It’s just math.

The ACSM says for healthy weight loss, you should try to lose between 1 and 2 lbs a week. That means you need at least a 500 calorie deficit to lose a pound a week. To lose 2 lbs a week, you’ll need a daily deficit of 1,000 calories. That’s a little tougher, and definitely is going to require that second workout.

This is why weight loss from diet alone isn’t usually sustainable. It’s much easier when you add an active lifestyle, like working out every day. For best results, you have to be like those amazing wind turbine generators, turning all the time.

Next week I’ll give you the outline from the seminar so you can have a game plan this summer. It’s the same stuff we do with our Biggest Losers. I’ve found it gives people hope—especially if they’ve tried to lose the weight in the past but failed.

Just like those wind turbine generators making energy in a different way, sometimes you need a new approach to taking off the weight. It’s not too late to sign up for Biggest Loser “8,” but if you wait another week it will be. It’s a pretty small group this time, so this could be your chance this summer. Don’t just sit there and let the wind pass you by!