Doing nothing is not only not exhausting, but, as luck would have it, calorie-burning. Check out this data from ScientificAmerican.com:
Although the average adult human brain weighs about 1.4 kilograms, only 2% of total body weight, it demands 20% of our resting metabolic rate (RMR)—the total amount of energy our bodies expend in one very lazy day of no activity. If we assume an average resting metabolic rate of 1,300 calories, then the brain consumes 260 of those calories just to keep things in order. That’s 10.8 calories every hour or 0.18 calories each minute.
Clearly, the take-away from that is if one is careful about calorie consumption on any given Sunday afternoon, it is possible, in theory, to expend more calories than one takes in, just by lying on the couch all day. The question is: Which burns more calories, turning a page or activating remote control buttons?
Did you see that number? 260 calories “just to keep things in order.” Considering the fact that I mentally keep a lot of things in order most days, and at least half as many things in some degree of disorder, I’m burning calories just simply by being me. Sweet!
Alas, that was the old me—the one who did yoga a few times a week and ran around the block now and then. I’m now into week four of a new personal training regimen, and on week two of the meal plan. It’s not a “diet” in the traditional sense of the word. The goal is to adjust how your body responds to food, to change its cravings, and gain an appreciation for green things. Instead of filling up on carbs, your body learns how to feel satisfied with lean protein and stuff like spinach, kale and tomatoes. One downside is that I’ve had to go back to eating meat, which I’d spent the last three months avoiding for the most part. And since last weekend was the annual Serbian goat feed, my return to eating things with a face could not have come at a better time. I also gave up dairy about three months ago, just because everyone else seemed to be doing it and reporting great things. Considering it is my favorite food group next to fermented grapes, I was ecstatic when I feasted my eyes upon the meal plan’s first day menu: Laughing cow cheese (with celery) for a snack! Lettuce wraps with chicken and string cheese for lunch! Wow!
The only carbs for the first two weeks came from some of the vegetables. No fruit, wheat, bread, rice, potatoes, etc. It wasn’t that difficult, which my trainer says is due to the fact that I wasn’t a big bread person to begin with. Or course, I veered off path temporarily at the goat feed, surrounded by gibanica and prijesnac (variations of Serbian cheese bread), but I stuck to vodka sodas, which have no carbs. Pretty clever, eh? Complex carbs will be phased back in over the next couple of weeks, things like oatmeal, brown rice, red wine…
The workouts are going well. Within two weeks I noticed my pants were fitting tighter, but in a good way. I’m firming up and gaining muscle mass in my legs and butt. Not quite a Brazilian butt yet, but I think it may be somewhere north of Venezuela. My waist is shrinking ever so slowly, in part thanks to the wide variety of abdominal torture maneuvers my trainer thinks up. The conversations during the ab work sound something like this:
Me: Hi, how ya doin’ today?
Trainer: On your back.
The trainer hands me the TRX straps, one for each hand, that descend from the ceiling like stretched out black mambas.
Trainer: Ok, press down with your hands, toward the floor, cross your ankles, drop your knees to one side and crunch. 20. Go.
Me: So how’ve you been? I squeak out after my second set of 20.
Trainer: On your stomach.
Trainer: Elbow plank. Touch your knees to the mat. 20 times. Go.
Me: We can catch up later…
Of course, this isn’t completely accurate. There’s a lot more cussing than that. Like when my trainer is smiling and encouraging me, and I say, “You do it, asshole.” But then he does do it, which leaves me to do it next.
There is definitely something to the old saying that you get what you pay for. Like my home exercise regimens, which are free, and fairly non-existent. But hand someone some hard-earned dollars and suddenly, working out rises to the top of the shit-pile of priorities. And when someone says you’ve lost an inch around your waist, and another two inches from various other private places (back fat, upper arm dingle-dangle), lost a pound of fat and gained 1.5 pounds of muscle mass in four weeks? Well, that’s just priceless.