Working Off Those Calories: Treating Yourself Has Consequences

That piece of cake is going to take time to work off. How bad do you want it?

I have literally done this.  The fork, with a gooey, delicious chocolate cake, hangs in the air, the smell intoxicating, as I hesitate, wondering how many calories in this forkful and how many laps it's going to cost me.  It's rare I put the fork down; if it's gotten that far, it's going in.  But do you ever think about the calories in/calories out dilemma when you're eating those "extra treats?" The world's biggest candy bar debuted this week, a whopping 21,000 pounds (9,525 kg).  The average candy bar is 9,000 calories per pound so we're talking 189 MILLION calories!  Geez!  That's 27 1/2 years of running non-stop on the treadmill (based on a person weighing 150 pounds at an 8 minute mile pace).  Good luck with that! Here are some more realistic breakdowns of the amount of running it takes to burn off different foods (using the parameters above):
  • Minibox of raisins: 45 calories, 4 minutes
  • Banana: 105 calories, 10 minutes
  • Baked potato (medium): 161 calories, 13 minutes
  • 4 ounces of steak: 229 calories, 17 minutes
  • Brownie, 2" square: 243 calories, 19 minutes
  • 1 ounce serving of potato chips: 150 calories, 12 minutes
  • Turkey sandwich from Subway: 210 calories, 16 minutes
  • 1 cup of vanilla ice cream: 289 calories, 22 minutes
  • 1 cup of pasta with 1/2 cup of spaghetti sauce: 290 calories, 22 minutes
I just wanted to remind everyone that what you put in your mouth has consequences.  All of the amounts above are appropriate portion sizes but are much smaller than what the average American eats.  Do you eat just a cup of spaghetti with sauce on it for lunch?  Be honest here ... The calories in / calories out model is just a general rule of thumb by the way.  The intricacies of our body's digestive system are nowhere near that simple.  For instance, if we eat too many calories, our body will dial up our internal body temperature to help burn off the excess.  We still manage, as a society, to pack a whole bunch away in those fat cells though. I'm also not an advocate of counting calories even though I've done it for years.  I've been shifting over to a whole foods, plant-based diet and I find if you eat good food, you don't need to count calories to lose weight.  (I know ... go figure.) If you'd like to do a little exploring on your own I used two great calculators.  The calories burned calculator came from WebMD; you can plug in your height, weight, etc. and get a detailed breakdown.  I'm also loving the food calculator I found at  It gives you lots of food options, not just general categories.  Try it after you eat lunch today. Let me know what you think of calculators, healthy eating, and the occasional treat.  If you're working out a lot, you might be interested in how to refuel after those workouts. Cheers, Lisa

About Lisa Johnson

Lisa Johnson here. I've been a personal trainer since 1997, a Pilates instructor since 1998 and the owner of Modern Pilates since 1999. I'm hoping to give you some good ideas to get or stay in shape with a healthy dose of humor and reality. Thanks for joining me.

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