Can You Afford the Extra Calories?

hidden caloriesOn a flight to Phoenix this morning, the flight attendant asked me if I wanted a roll. I had to think about if I could afford the snack…not the cost of the roll, but the calories. Have you ever tried to do those mental calculations, on the spot? For me, an early morning flight means that whatever coffee they are serving me is better than water!

I want to tell you about my patient, John*. He had not come in to see me for several years. I barely recognized him. He had lost over 60 pounds and he just wanted to check in. I looked over his chart and he had been hanging around 220 pounds for the previous few months I had seen him. What changed?
*individual results will vary

He said he realized he could not afford to eat sweets anymore. Simple, he said. He was now eating starches, some pasta, but had cut out sweets because when he did the calculations it never made sense.

John used to think that he could eat the candy bar if he walked a mile. The problem was, his calculations were off – walking a mile (about 200 steps) was about 100 calories, and the candy bar (like most protein bars) was 230 calories. He realized he was living to eat calories, without losing any calories. In fact, he was storing more calories – usually as fat, and still working hard.

When I see patients next week they will tell me how they can’t believe they gained weight because they walked all over on vacation. Their math is simply wrong.

So, I turned down the roll (it kind of looked sad and not a terribly tasty roll for the calories). I opted for another cup of coffee.

John learned to measure and to be accurate and realized he would never get to his goal unless he was honest about it. Scale or fail. The scale is the best way you can plan what you are going to do. It is not an enemy, it is a way to get to where you want to go while you have a choice in the matter.