Calories In, Calories Out. Not?

I’ve always heard, and firmly believed, that there is 3500 calories to a pound. However, studies show that when people are fed the same amount of extra calories, they gain differing amounts. Widely differing amounts, anywhere from 9 to 29 pounds in one study!

It might be that 3500 calories is not always a pound.

Can You Keep it Off?

Here’s an article in the New York Times, Weight Loss Surgery May Soon Be Paid by Medicare, that also questions the effectiveness of dieting and losing weight. “The problem with weight loss, researchers say, is that the advice so often given, eat less and exercise more, has not been much help.”

There’s a national registry that tracks people who have lost 30 pounds and kept it off for at least a year. According to the NYT’s article, “People in a national registry of successful dieters – they maintained a weight loss of at least 30 pounds for at least a year – report consuming just 1,400 calories a day and walking, or doing equivalent exercise, for an hour a day.” Let me tell you that when I was eating 1400 calories a day I lost 20 pounds in a couple of months and I was not only starving but I would actually feel dizzy if I exercised hard. That’s not a way to live!

Need to Lose 10 Pounds?

If you think you have 10 pounds to lose, I recommend you read the "Obesity Myth".  I will not try to give you a summary or complete review of the book (check out the reviews on by clicking on the book image) but list the points that struck home with me.  For the record, I haven’t checked out all of Paul Campos’ claims about weight research studies, but as someone who follows any news about weight, his claims rang true.

Here’s what I learned from the book:

  1. Fat vs Fit.  We’ve all heard about the fat vs fit debate.  Can you be fat and fit?  Campos takes this one step further.  There is no proof that losing weight will make you healthier.  (Just because naturally thinner people might be healthier than you does not mean you will become as healthy as them if you lose weight.)  Exercising and eating well, i.e. becoming fit, can improve your health, but there is no data that shows that losing weight will make you healthier!  To the contrary, there is data that says that losing weight and regaining it is very bad for your health.  So,

    • Losing weight will not make you healthier. 
    • Being fit is good for your health. 
    • Being slightly overweight is much, much better for your health than being underweight. 
  2. Over 90% of “obese” Americans are dieting.  I’d argue that most American women are dieting.  It doesn’t work.  You can blame it on willpower if you want.  How successful have you been at losing and keeping those 10 pounds off?  For most people, dieting doesn’t work.  It doesn’t really matter what you blame it on, it doesn’t work.
  3. Does fat disgust you?  Do fat people disgust you?  Most likely you answered yes to both those questions.  Nobody wants to be fat and fat people are actively discriminated against.  (They’ve done studies that even sitting next to a fat person in an interview room decreases your odds of getting the job!)  So now you have to ask yourself why fat people disgust you.  Is it because you think they are lazy? They don’t have self control? You’re afraid you might become fat?  Don’t laugh, disgust is often driven by fear.  If that “fat person” can run a 6 minute mile, does that change your opinion?  Did you know that there are plenty of “skinny people” that can’t run a six minute mile?  Are they still better than those lazy overweight people?

The questions are just to get you thinking.  Campos closes his book with a really interesting point.  His premise is that the privileges that used to distinguish social rank are now attainable by the masses: high quality clothing is now cheap, restaurant meals are now affordable, exotic vacations are more accessible, etc.  So weight has replaced things like clothing, housing and vacations as a sign of wealth and social status.  In today’s world it can be very expensive and time consuming to lose weight, especially if you are trying to lose 10 pounds from an otherwise healthy body!  The time to plan healthy meals takes time – most fast food is not healthy or conducive to losing weight.  Personal trainers, time to exercise, healthy foods, diet planning, liposuction, will power, fat camps, nutritionists, etc all take time, money and energy that makes them expensive.  Because losing weight is expensive and time consuming, it’s obtained by fewer people, those that either have the resources through wealth or heredity, so it becomes a rare commodity and potentially, Campos argues, our new sign of the socially superior, the elite.  There is very good data that ties being overweight to being poor and being thin to being wealthy.  Just think about it for a while.  Do you respect people more because they are thin?  Is there any logical reason for you to do that? 

Why are you trying to lose weight?  (Remember, losing weight will not make you healthier and if you regain it, it will actually be worse for your health!)

So if you are trying to lose 10 pounds, think long and hard about why.

Does Money Buy Happiness?

This article,How not to buy happiness, suggests that it can if you use the extra money to shorten a commute or otehrwise alleviate stress in your life. “… if we use an increase in our incomes, as many of us do, simply to buy bigger houses and more expensive cars, then we do not end up any happier than before. But if we use an increase in our incomes to buy more of certain inconspicuous goods–such as freedom from a long commute or a stressful job–then the evidence paints a very different picture.”

Chiropractic Care for Dogs

As I posted a while back, my dog Teddy has a slipped disk. I was told by the vet that it is a permanent condition and the best we could do was to give her pain medication.  In addition, I should not take her running and I should go easy on all activities like long walks and backpacking.

It’s been tough and I can definitely tell she’s worse after a long walk, so when I heard about a chiropractor who routinely treats horses and dogs, I decided to give it a try.  I have to admit that I’ve always been a little bit skeptical about chiropractors in general, but after seeing how it was done, I decided it probably wouldn’t hurt Teddy.  So we went yesterday.

I can’t say Teddy enjoyed the treatment, but the minute it was done she was jumping around and twirling in circles.  (And before you say, that’s because it was done, I can tell you when the vet is done with anything she runs to the door or hides under my chair.  She most definitely does not even wag her tail.)  She also jumped on the bed last night without any coaxing!   So, it’s too soon to tell for sure, but it definitely looks like it might help!

Do you think chiropractic care for dogs is a valid medical treatment

Free polls from

September 23, 2004

Update.  I took Teddy to the chiropracter three times.  I did not treat her back or her pain in any other way.  She is no longer yelps with pain!  I haven’t heard a yelp in over a month!  To be conclusive that it worked, I think I would need to get another xray in a few months but if she’s happy and not hurting, I’m happy!

See other blog posts at my dog blog, Humans for dogs.

A new type of preventative medicine

If you were a woman and you were told there was a 100% chance that you would develop breast cancer if you didn’t undergo a full mastectomy, would you? How about if there was a 90% chance? Or a 25% chance.

What if there was a 90% chance you would get kidney disease if you didn’t get a kidney transplant? Or a 90% chance that you would be blind if you didn’t get an eye transplant? Or just a 90% chance that you would need glasses?

How far does it go?

In this article, the author debates having both breasts and ovaries removed after getting the results of some genetic testing.

Demonizing Fat in the War on Weight

So while I believe that the ideal woman’s body portrayed in magazines and television is way too thin, unhealthy and unrealistic, I also believe the large number of studies that have found a correlation between obesity and disease. I also believe that anybody who’s not healthy and able to participate in a minimum amount of activity, like walking, misses out on a lot of opportunities in life. All that said, I think it’s only fair to also point out that there is another side. This New York Times article,

School Takes Aggressive Swipe at Obesity

Yahoo! News – School Takes Aggressive Swipe at Obesity
Yeah! A school moving away from junk food to healthy choices!