April 02, 2020
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Calculus Of The Incalculable

Want to ‘burn’ 500 calories in the hope of losing weight? Count your efforts, not your calories

Calculus Of The Incalculable
Illustration by Sorit
Calculus Of The Incalculable

‘I want to know if burning 500 calories more than I consumed will make me lose weight.” The first thing to know here, really, is that unless you are in a lab with electrodes fitted all over your body, it is almost impossible to calculate how many calories you have burnt or consumed. So all that you can get in the best scenario is a rough estimate. So rough that the error is generally plus or minus 500 calories. So much for your great weight loss equation.

What can you do then? Simply put, count your efforts, not your calories. You want to ‘burn’ 500 calories in the hope of losing weight, right? Work on this instead:

  1. On Sunday evening, plan your workout days and time for the week and keep that like a date. (It’s okay to plan just two days of 20-minute workouts, but don’t bunk).
  2. Resolve to wake up to a fresh fruit or nuts and not to tea or coffee, at least on weekdays.
  3. Fix your crucial 4 pm-6 pm meal for the rest of the week. This way you can pre-empt desperate calls to your neighbourhood pizza parlour.
  4. Get sincere with your bedtime (that is, try and sleep at the same time as often as possible) and avoid the TV/ phone/ iPad post-dinner.
  5. Eat all your main meals—breakfast, lunch and dinner—in silence.

Work on these five pointers; they are much more effective for weight loss than counting random calories. Also, get real. Even if you simply start that treadmill, and don’t even stand on it, the display will show 500 calories burnt after some time, out of thin air. Accountability is what matters while losing weight, not count-ability.

(The author’s latest book is called Women and the Weight Loss Tamasha)

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