Weighty realities

I’m just going to say upfront that I honestly have no intention of fat shaming anyone here. This is truly just my amazement at how out of touch with reality some people are.

A friend of mine is grossly overweight. She admits it, and knows it’s been the result of some poor lifestyle choices that she’s made in the last 10 years. However, she does genuinely want to change her situation and get healthier again so that she can keep up with her kids. My friend knows that I am a fairly athletic person, and is aware of the details of what happened with my health in the last few years, so understands my dietary restrictions.

Now, I don’t claim to be an expert in nutrition or fitness, but at the end of the day, it I know it comes down to “eat better, exercise more”. I told her as much when she asked for advice. My friend has missed the point entirely.

Tagging along to the gym with me for half an hour and walking on the treadmill (no incline, and at slow pace) is a good starting point. But the whole exercise (pardon the pun) is redundant if you then go and eat an entire pizza and 2 loaves of garlic bread for lunch immediately afterwards. You can’t seriously wonder why you continue to put on weight rather than losing it?

Apparently you can.

But I’m exercising! I need the extra energy!”

Oh, honey. Yes, exercise requires energy. But 30 minutes dawdling on the treadmill at no incline might burn 450 calories if you’re lucky. A pizza is about 2000 calories. Each loaf of garlic bread is probably around 1500 calories. That’s 5000 calories in food – just for lunch. You burned 450 on the treadmill at best.

I know all those fad diet websites say “don’t count calories, just eat better”. That’s only valid to a point. If you want to lose weight, you still need to expend more calories than you consume. You might not need a precise calorie count, but when you’re not even in the ballpark? That’s a problem. Also, I question whether pizza and garlic bread is really any better than fish and chips and pineapple fritters.

For someone who is very highly educated (she also holds a PhD in something sciencey), I am truly gobsmacked at how out of touch with reality my friend is when it comes to energy consumption. She understands the concept of “energy in vs. energy out” well enough, but seems to be entirely clueless as to just how much energy is expended during exercise, and how much energy is consumed through various foods.

Honestly, I don’t mind if my friend is overweight. It’s entirely her decision about what she wants to do with her life. I’m just baffled that someone can be so completely out of touch with reality when it comes to what it takes to burn off food calories.

I was highly critical of it at first, because I thought “that’s ridiculous, nobody’s that stupid”, but I’m beginning to wonder if that idea about putting “it will take [x] minutes of running to burn off the calories consumed in this product” labels on everything next to the nutrition panels doesn’t have some merit. Because apparently some people really are that stupid.

No, this post isn’t politically correct. But let’s face a harsh reality here, I think a lot of people are genuinely clueless about how many calories are in the food they’re consuming, and how many calories they’re burning through exercise – grossly underestimating the former, and grossly overestimating the latter.


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