Thursday, November 12, 2015

30,000 steps

Last month we did a lot of walking on our vacation - a lot of walking. My wife's pedometer read 30,000 steps one day, and I'm not even sure that was our longest walking day.

The walking site tells me I walked 15 miles that day, which means I blew through about 1,875 extra calories, if we assume 125 calories per mile. But that doesn't tell the whole story of the day - I could still have either gained weight or lost weight, depending on how much I ate.

So, let's see how I did:
  • Breakfast (600 calories). I brought a bagel with me and grabbed a mocha from the hotel's Starbucks.
  • Snacks (900 calories). I ate a few energy bars during those in-between times. (mid-morning 225, noon-ish 225, 5:00ish 290.) I also had a few handfuls of some of my boys' sweets.
  • Lunch (500 calories). We ate a late lunch, and I split a plate with my wife.
  • Dinner (1,200 calories). We ate dinner at a restaurant, where I enjoyed a full meal - and licked my plate clean!
  • Total Consumption for the day: I consumed about 3,425 calories.
  • Total Calories Burned for the day: I walked off 1,875, plus my normal 1,900 calories per day at rest. Overall I burned about 3,775 calories.

This means I burned off 350 more calories than I ate. 350 calories - that's all - on a day when I walked 15 miles! This helps to make a few points:
  1. It takes a lot of exercise to outrun your daily eating, but it's possible.
  2. I was able to slow-drip food all day long, so that I was neither hungry nor full throughout the day.
  3. Restaurant meals are too big. Even with 15 miles of walking, splitting lunch was the difference between net loss and net gain; I would have eaten more than I burned if I had ordered my own lunch. And that restaurant dinner.. I would have been way on the good side if I had eaten a non-restaurant dinner.

Most of us aren't able to walk 15 miles in a day; it simply takes more time than we have available. But the lessons learned can be applied to our everyday lives.

Move a little more. Eat a little less. Snack strategically. And be careful in restaurants!

- Chris Butterworth



Tuesday, October 27, 2015

just because it's there

Does your office supply bagels and cream cheese in the mornings, or have a table-full of snacks in the lunchroom?

Bagels, muffins, and danishes show up in my office's kitchen like magic every other Monday morning.

Does your significant other love baking desserts? Brownies, cookies, apple pie a la mode? Yum!

Maybe lunch was catered and there's a full spread.

Or a candy jar at your co-workers desk, always beckoning. You don't want to offend her, right?

Or you could have another helping of that terrific dinner, or an extra slice of pizza.


You don't have to eat it - just because it's there.

- Chris Butterworth


200 posts ago: Fit-20 Workout - sprints, renegade rows, squats

100 posts ago: choosing the right workout partner


Wednesday, October 7, 2015

running for dinner - or running from dinner

RunKeeper tells me I ran approximately 12 miles last week and burned about 1,400 calories.

I'm not saying whether that's good or bad, a lot or a little, and I didn't run all 12 miles at once. I ran 1-3 miles at a time over the course of 6 different runs. There was nothing particularly notable or astonishing about any of these runs individually, but the fact I was able to consistently get myself out of bed (when it's still dark outside) to get my day started with a run... That's an accomplishment which took some dedication and perseverance, even if only for a week.

This weekend was hectic around our house (even more so than normal), and we were getting into Saturday evening without a dinner plan. At one point while we were in the car I considered stopping at the local Applebees, just so we could take a break and let somebody else prepare dinner for us.

If we had eaten there, I would have ordered the boneless wings (810 calories) with classic buffalo sauce (200 calories) and french fries (440 calories) - that's 1,450 calories for dinner, and that's if I'm able to stick with water to drink!

Turns out waking up early and motivating myself to get out the door for a run 6 days a week is exactly what it takes to offset one dinner at a restaurant (1). Just think how much I would have to run if we ate out more often..!

Luckily for me our last event of the evening was behind schedule, and we decided it was too late to stop off for a long sit-down dinner.

- Chris Butterworth

(1) - I've written many times that it's possible to order small at a restaurant and be ok on your eating plan. But for me, hungry at the end of a long, hectic day, I would have ordered a "regular" sized portion that night, and I would have cleaned my plate!

200 posts ago: FDA approves new weight loss pill - just what we need

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Friday, October 2, 2015

potential is a dirty word

Potential is great, for kids. They're smart, industrious, inquisitive, funny, athletic - they can be anything they want to be, and the world is their oyster.

As you get older, potential isn't such a great thing. It usually describes what you could have been (or could have done), rather than what you are (or are doing.)

But we all still have the potential to be fit and healthy.

Eat a little less, move a little more. Slow and steady. Put your potential back to work - it's time to get healthy.

- Chris Butterworth


200 posts ago: Fit-20 Workout (shadow boxing / mountain climbers / sit-ups)

100 posts ago: the curse of open eyes - seeing calories everywhere you look

Thursday, October 1, 2015

changing safety with the changing seasons

I can tell the seasons are changing, although here in Phoenix the change is subtle - it'll be 106 today, but it won't feel as hot as we're used to. (and look at what's coming next week - especially the lows!) It's also been dark outside in the mornings for the last few weeks.

But with the changing seasons comes changing needs, especially safety needs.
  • Maybe you were visible on your morning or evening run when the sun was out, but now the cars can't see you. Are you wearing reflective clothing?
  • As the temperatures continue to fall, maybe a change to mid-day is a good idea.
  • You might not need to carry as much water or sunscreen, but that should leave you room for your sweatshirt (once you're warmed up.)
  • That neighborhood or parking garage might have been mostly safe in the daylight, but you don't feel comfortable now that it's dark? Time to change your route!

Earlier this week I was running on the desert trail behind my house when I came face to face with a coyote - less than 20 feet away - and I had an uh-oh moment. He looked at me for a few seconds before moving nonchalantly off the trail. I turned around and headed back into the neighborhood (while hoping not to get eaten by a coyote or crushed by a falling Acme-branded anvil..)

image credit:

I've been on that trail a thousand times before, and there always seems to be other runners, dog-walkers, and cyclists. But not this particular morning at this particular place and time - it was just me and a coyote, in the dark, in the desert. Who knows if he had any buddies watching from the side of the trail..? I was completely alone and exposed, even though I was 25 feet away from the back wall of my neighborhood.

Change of plan: I'll be doing a "city run" during the winter - out the front of my neighborhood instead of the back.

Seasons change, and our safety needs change with them. When you go out for a run, your first priority should always be to make sure you get back home!

- Chris Butterworth


200 posts ago: shadow boxing

100 posts ago: change 4 life obesity advert


Monday, September 28, 2015

should you use a fitness tracking app on your phone?

If you're trying to accomplish something specific, such as losing weight, gaining strength, or running a marathon, it's important to keep track of your progress.

There are scores of smartphone apps available to help you keep track. The question is: should you use one, and which one should you use?

I love tracking data, and I love technology. But these apps are only useful if they make your life better or easier.

I've been using RunKeeper to track my running for almost 5 years now. It works for me because I like having my phone with me when I run (just in case I need it), so I don't have to do anything extra except push the start button, and RunKeeper does the rest.

I've tried using LoseIt! and My Fitness Pal as food journals, but I've found myself spending too much time trying to log my foods. Since I spend most of my working day in front of a computer, it's just faster and easier to look things up online rather than on my phone.

The key is to do what works for you. Smart phone app, computer spreadsheet, pencil and paper - it doesn't matter.

Have a plan, keep track of how you're doing against that plan, and adjust as necessary. It's that simple.

- Chris Butterworth



Friday, September 25, 2015

pizza for lunch on a diet?


Success comes more from how much you eat than what you eat, so you just need to eat the right amount.

Trying to find the exact calorie count for a slice of pepperoni pizza is an inexact science - I'm finding numbers ranging from 300 - 400 calories per slice at most places (330 for a large slice of Papa John's.) I usually eat slices from Barro's - they're near my office and they have a great lunch special, but since their slices are thicker and heavier than average, I'm going to ballpark a 400 calorie number from the high end of the range for my example.

Now, how much pizza can I eat?

400 calories for a thick slice of pepperoni pizza.

600 calories if you can stop at one and a half slices.

800 calories if you eat both slices.

You have to start by knowing what your calorie budget is for the day.

I burn about 1,900 calories per day without exercising, so allowing for 2,200 (give or take) on a day when I run is a fair number. If I drink a 350 calorie fruit juicee for breakfast, I can eat 2 slices of pizza for lunch, and still have over 1,000 calories available for snack, dinner, and dessert. This also gives me flexibility to adjust how much pizza I eat according to how much I'm going to eat for dinner, or whether I skipped a workout, or even if the scale showed a bigger number than usual that day.

If I was trying to lose weight, or if I was a 5' 3" woman trying to maintain weight, my daily calorie budget might be about 1,500. In that case, 2 full slices would probably be too much pizza on a regular basis, but 1 slice should be ok. I could even get away with 1 1/2 slices if I managed the rest of my day really well.

On the other hand, someone trying to keep their daily calorie intake down to about 1,000 calories would find a 400 calorie slice of pizza as their large meal of the day - a feast of a meal. But even in that ultra-restricted scenario, a half slice of pizza would be a filling way to spend 200 precious calories..

What I like about pizza - other than that it tastes awesome! - is that it's a filling use of calories. It's a good blend of carbs, protein, and fat, which gives your body plenty of short-term and long-term fuel.

So go ahead and eat some pizza. Enjoy it. Savor it. Just don't eat too much. And don't wash it down with a large soda!

- Chris Butterworth


200 posts ago: running for time or distance

100 posts ago: Happy Thanksgiving - my mental, physical, and emotional approach