In college I was really active and always playing sports, a couple of years on and I’ve become the guy I swore I wouldn’t- 9-5 job, always going for a drink after work and with a belly. I’m only 28 but I feel like crap and like an old man. I have a two year old son and I feel like I’m setting a bad example. Can you tell me a realistic way to lose the extra 20 pound that I’m carrying?
Phil Sulivan, North Augusta, SC
Thanks for the question Phil! I’ve come up with a relatively painless way to get rid of those extra 20 lbs. over the next 5 months!!
The great thing about having once been athletic and in shape is that “muscle memory” makes it a little easier to get back into shape than if you’d always been sedentary. However, you have to give your body a reason to “remember” what it was like to be athletic.
Therefore, the first thing I would have you do is trade in your barstool for some gym shoes! Put that money and time you’re spending on drinking at the bar towards a gym membership and workout time. You can also get a bicycle with a child carrier or a running stroller where you can get your son involved in exercise time. What better way to set an example for him than to actually get him involved in the process directly?!!
Here’s how the 20 lbs. will disappear (I should warn you that this is a VERY simplistic model, but the general concept is what I want you to understand.)
Before getting into the nitty gritty details, we need to remember that 1 pound of body fat contains roughly 3500 calories (actually kilocalories or kcal). Assuming we want to only lose body fat and not lean body mass, this means we’d need to burn 20 lbs x 3500 kcal, or 70000 kcal. That’s a lot of calories!!
In order to accomplish this, I’ve come up with a two-pronged approach that will tackle the needed calorie deficit from both the intake side (what we eat and drink) and the output side (how many kcal we burn).
Let’s assume you go to the bar for an hour after work Monday through Friday and you drink a couple beers each day. At around 150 calories per beer, that’s a total of 1500 calories weekly (2 beers x 5 days x 150 kcal per beer).
Now let’s assume instead of going to the bar for an hour, you decide to go to the gym and lift weights 2 days a week, and get outside and ride the bike with your son the other 3 days. We’ll also assume for our calculations that you are 180 lbs. (calories burned would be higher or lower than this is you are above or below this weight.)
Leisurely cycling (<10mph) could burn about 325 calories per hour and a moderate weightlifting workout could burn about 275 calories per hour.
So, your 3 weekly cycling workouts total 975 calories for the week (325 cal x 3 hrs) and your 2 gym workouts total 550 calories for the week. Your grand total is 1525 calories burned from your workouts.
The magic comes from combining the 1500 calories of beer that you are removing from your intake with the additional 1525 calories you are now burning in a week. This totals a 3025 calorie deficit you previously didn’t have!
So in our scenario, 70,000 calories divided by your weekly deficit of 3025 calories would equal just over 23 weeks or about 5 months to lose those 20 lbs.
Now 5 months may seem like a long time, but when you consider putting on those extra 20 lbs probably happened over a few years, 5 months doesn’t seem so bad. Also, exercise makes us burn more calories in the hours after we train while we are recovering, and I didn’t even include that possibility in my weight loss time frame!
We could also get a much greater calorie deficit on the intake side by eliminating other sources of calories from appetizers like potato skins or sliders, or snacks like popcorn or pretzels or peanuts that might be accompanying your after work bar visits. Similarly, avoiding overeating on the weekend (when most of us tend to overindulge) can also have a huge impact!
Lastly, as you get back into shape and the intensity of your workouts improves, you’ll also set yourself up for a greatly calorie burn.
So, Phil, my advice to you is to get out of the bar and into the gym and the great outdoors! Include your son in the exercise process and set the example I know you can!
Thanks again for the question, that’s it for this month’s “Ask Chad”.