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The Metaphor Diet – Mind v. Food for Natural Weight Loss

April 24, 2012

The brain naturally thinks in metaphors. “Comfort food” describes certain foods that bring about a warm, secure feeling.
We can create our own metaphors – we can learn to look at a piece of cheesecake or a box of donuts and feel the effort it takes to do a four mile run, or a two hour mountain hike. The bad food that we’re not supposed to eat gets hard-wired to another place in our brain, becomes “discomfort food,” and is much less tempting.  It’s all based on solid psychological research, put here it is put in plain English.

For example: A Big Mac and French Fries

You treated yourself to McD’s Big Mac and french fries for lunch. When you get home from work, you can burn it off by:
3 hours of golf with no cart, OR
an hour and 15 minutes of kick boxing

For dessert you had a dish of Cookies & Cream Ice Cream. Choose your payback:
jump rope for 45 minutes
    shoot baskets for 1.5 hours

What kind of diet is this? It’s not really – it’s just an eating plan. To make it work, however, there’s one absolute requirement:

You need to PHYSICALLY DO THE EXERCISE it takes to burn those calories.

You can’t just look at food and exercise charts and get it. Choose your exercise before you even take the first bite, then go sweat it off as soon as it’s practical. The ice cream and pizza will lose their appeal, on a very deep level. No more guilt, and goodbye gut! We all have our favorite fattening foods, and we know what they are. Target those. Body memory will take care of the rest.

You can reward yourself with healthy foods: Your wife serves up a pound of steamed mixed veggies and a hard-boiled egg. To burn this off, you’ll have to watch the game or a movie for two hours! Fun:) There’s nothing wrong with creating a positive metaphor for healthy foods.

Some foods aren’t completely out of the picture:

You went to the Outback and had a lean 10 oz Ribeye45 minutes of singles tennis OR  1 hour of hitting the heavy bag.

BUT Double those activities if you had a glass of wine and a baked potato with the trimmings. (Tip – eat a 6 oz Ribeye and  minimize the potato toppings).

These calorie counts are close, but not exact, and they don’t have to be. The important thing is that the desire for unhealthy foods  will change based on the brain’s creation of metaphors and the bodies memory of the physical activity. It’s a mind-body approach.

All you need to do from now on is match the calories of a specific food with the amount of calories burned during exercise. Just look at the calorie count on the package or from a food chart. See how much jump rope, or hitting a heavy bag (or whatever)  you need to do. There’s plenty of ways to burn fat if you can’t make it to the gym. It’s a lot easier to associate a medium piece of cheesecake with an hour of stationary cycling than to go back and forth counting calories every time. Combo pizzas and Hagen Daas will become some of the last things on earth you want to eat.

See the older post on burning off one bite of a cookie.

Interesting facts and recent and somewhat controversial research:
Running for 30 minutes at 6 mph burns the same as walking 3 mph for one hour.
Eating fruits or vegetables in the same calorie amount as cheeseburgers or desserts keeps people feeling full longer.
The body does not burn more calories at rest after exercise, it actually burns less.
Strength training before cardio burns more fat than doing the cardio first.

Charts and References

Cals burned by a 200 lb man walking. Multiply calories by number of miles for longer walks:

Find calorie and body measurement charts using these links. Also see links on the blogroll.

Estimate the average calories you burn per hour. Example for the “average” man:
Sedentary: 2326 daily, ave 97 per hour.
Moderately active 2791 ave 116 per hour
Extremely active 3721 ave 155 per hour

Calories per Mile for 160 Pound Person Walking:
2.0 mph – 91     2.5 mph – 87     3.0 mph – 85      3.5 mph – 83      4.0 mph – 91      4.5 mph – 102      5.0 mph – 116
5.0 mph – 116      6.0 mph – 121      7.0 mph – 119      8.0 mph – 123      9.0 mph – 121      10.0 mph – 131

Weight is a Big Factor for Calories Burned – The more you weigh, the more calories you burn, but if you wear a pack or weighted vest that adds 20 pounds, you only increase your calories burned per mile by about 11-12, and it may be hard on your joints.

  • Go Faster? – It doesn’t really matter if you’re running the same distance.
  • Go Longer? Whether walking or running, you burn the most calories by adding distance.
  • Should I Walk or Run? Do what you most prefer. You just need to spend more time if you’re walking.

Activities for a 200 lb man in calories/hr

FOOD BROWSER – examples (many more online)

Medium apple 182 g 95 cal    Small box raisins 28g 90 cals       McD Big Mac 700 cal      McD double cheeseburger 6 oz 165 g 440 cal

McD med french fries 4 oz 117g 380 cal    Grande Starbuck’s Caffe Latte 272 cal     Pizza, Round Table pepperoni 1 large slice 120g 320

carrots 1 cup chopped 128 g 52 cal     Reeses peanut butter cups 4.3 oz 120g 360 cal     Hershey bar 1.6oz 240 cal      Jenny Craig Brownie 2 oz 57g 160 cal

Vanilla ice cream ½ cup 72 g 145 cal     Weight Watcher’s “Giant” Choc Fudge Sundae Cup 132 g 160 cal       Glass of wine 5 oz 113 cals

Cookies & Cream Ice Cream ½ cup 102 g 270 cal      Rib Eye, 9.8 oz 276 g 566 cal (active man max reccomended is  196 g 7 oz = 404 cal)


A detailed 12 week exercise plan, includes diet and tips  to get motivated

One Comment leave one →
  1. mark maginn permalink
    July 24, 2011 3:15 pm

    It’s looking good, Joel. Getting more sophisticated as you go along.

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