Why English Majors Can’t Lose Weight

In the fight against flab, your biggest enemy isn’t chocolate cake or chocolate chip cookies or  a bottle of fine red wine. … … …chocolate frosting… or wine… ….chocolate…….wine…. Uh, what? Oh! Sorry. Started daydreaming there… what was I saying? Oh right, fight against flab… Let me try that again.

In the fight against flab, your biggest enemy isn’t chocolate cake or a bottle of wine. Your greatest enemy is your own creativity.

Like a lot of people I am pretty much always on a diet, and like a lot of people I don’t really lose any weight that I don’t put back shortly afterward. The reason isn’t as simple as my obsession for eating gourmet food and drinking good wine.

I’ve finally realized I can’t lose weight because I was an English Major.

I hate math. For the most part can’t even do math. But I do know that you lose a pound every time you are negative 3500 calories. So if you consider that fact with my past dieting style, you see where in-lies the problem.

If you take in to consideration that I lose about 1900 calories a day just being alive, it looks something like this:

Monday: Start diet, eat1200 calories, exercise for about 400 calories. Total for the day:  -1900 + -400 +1200 = -1100 calories for the day. Good start.

Tuesday: Still motivated, same thing. -1100

Wednesday: Still motivated, but getting really cranky about it. Eat a little extra. That’s good because if I don’t eat enough my body might go into “starvation mode” and then I’ll lose weight more slowly.  -900 for the day.

Thursday: Gorgeous day outside.  Come on. That’s just not fair. Husband talks me into going out to lunch. Completely sucks the urge to exercise out of me. Eat french fries off husband’s plate, but they don’t count towards calories because I didn’t order them.  Party continues when we get home. Total for day: +500

Friday: Whoo! It’s Friday! Nobody really diets on Fridays. Day total: +500

Saturday: Whoo! It’s Saturday! Certainly there isn’t any harm in taking it easy today. Drank a little too much last night. Today I am HUNGRY. Spend the day vegetating, watching movies on demand and drinking wine on the sofa with husband. Day total: +1000

Sunday: Consumed with guilt. Am totally determined to start dieting HARDCORE again tomorrow. Day total: -200.

Weight loss for week, after suffering Monday through Wednesday like a good little girl. NOTHING. I may have even gained weight. I don’t know for sure – the numbers are there – you do the math. I hate math.

So there I am, baffled as to why I never lose any weight when clearly I spent Monday through Wednesday really trying. Whine, whine, whine. Poor me. Husband has wine with me to commiserate.

With a limitless ability to come up with creative reasons why eating other people’s fries don’t count, why nice weather makes it ok to splurge, why working out for 300 calories clearly erases a 500 calorie bottle of wine at night, I am helpless to lose weight.

How far does it go? When I was on the track team in high school I threw javelin  and discus. I did not run. But every day at practice the whole team had to run a mile before we started with our individual specialties (which in my case, required no running). I hate running.  Running for me is like math with feet. I felt like I was going to die before I’d gone once around the track.  So I told the coach that I should be exempt from the daily run because (drum roll please) I only had one lung.

I told them I only had one lung because the other was filled with scar tissue from having a bad case of pneumonia as a kid.  In reality, I just had sucky wind because I didn’t like to run and I had a vague memory of once having a bad cold.  Surprisingly, the coaches did give me a pass, since my running ability really had no effect on my javelin tossing and I threw the hell out of a javelin.

To their credit, the coaches presented me with a tongue-in-cheek award at the end of the year for “Most Creative Excuse” so they didn’t actually buy the one lung thing. I think it was important to them to let me know I wasn’t the devious genius I might have thought I was at that point. But I think this shows just how creative you can get in the quest to avoid exercising and continue eating what you want.

Another good example… the other day we saw a television clip that said drinking a Mojito (200 calories)  instead of a Margarita (500 calories) would save you 300 calories every time you had a cocktail. What my husband I took away from that?  Drinking a Mojito burns 300 calories.

So I’ve got a new diet. As painful as it is both physically and mentally, I’m doing it by the numbers. Every day I write down how much I burned and how much I ate in an Excel spreadsheet that then spits out how many pounds I lost for the week.  It seems to be working. The numbers don’t lie. It’s all there in black and white.  I haven’t figured out a way to creatively convince myself that I can have more fun and still lose weight.

But I’m working on it.

Amy Vansant

7 Responses

  1. Ripplebutte Floppyhips

    I have that spreadsheet, too. Mind automatically moves forward in dates when I don’t make my most recent deadline. Let’s just say that what was going to be the final day in July is now September. But, at least we’re trying, right? 🙂


  2. Amy Vansant

    My problem is I’m taking it too seriously right now. I’m weak from hunger… thinner? No. Dizzy and unable to concentrate? Absolutely. Damn math.


  3. Heidi

    I love everything you write but this was over-the-top funny. Thanks for brightening my very dull day!


  4. Aiyana

    You know – I have tried for years to tell myself that simply being allergic to chocolate is a lifetime free pass for exercising.Never consuming chocolate should count and take off every bottle of wine I’ve ever drunk right?


  5. Stu

    There’s several great web sites (I use http://www.thedailyplate.com) that will let you track what you eat and how much you exercise. They have databases of food items, so that you don’t have to type in calories each time. In the past year and a half, I lost 55 lbs by eating better and exercising. The ability to track what I did was a huge factor in my success.

    Just a friendly tip from a left-brained person!



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