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Math Riff: The Cruel Math of Weight Loss Multiplication

Raise your hand if one or more of your new year's resolutions are "get in shape" or "lose weight" or "By Halloween, look just like Gerard Butler for that Spartan warrior costume I've twice now skipped in favor of the Energizer Bunny suit." What? No? The sad news from the scale this morning is that I'm 16 pounds away from my resolution goal weight, and while I'm making progress already, it's slow. I saw a Science Channel program where a guy lost something like 12 pounds in one day. By swimming the English Channel. Still, I can do this. To get motivated, I decided to do a little math. The Mayo Clinic says there are 3500 calories in a pound of body fat, and the elliptical machine is reporting that I'm burning calories at a rate of 800 per hour, so a little unit conversion math would surely tell me I could work this weight off with a couple of days of serious commitment... 16 pounds1×3,500 calories1 pound×1 hour800 calories=70 hours Ouch. These are not the results you were looking for, Obiwan. In fact, my left calf just developed a cramp I think to make darn sure my brain was on the same page with the the muscular/skeletal system's assessment of these figures. And, you know, thinking more about it, that Energizer Bunny suit was awfully slimming.