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Apr 24, 2013
04:45 PM
Health Kick

When the Numbers Don't Add Up

When the Numbers Don't Add Up

A lot of my runner friends say that they run so that they can eat. I used to be in that camp, too, but I've realized that running six miles a day does not give me license to eat whatever I want. I tried it for a while. Then my weight started to creep up, and I had to consciously decide to limit what I ate—both in terms of quality and quantity—in order to keep the needle at the right point on the scale. It's not easy.

You'd think that the menus with calorie counts would drive the message home, but I don't always make the connection between the calories listed next to items and how much running I'd have to do to balance out. I need to eat  something, after all, and I have no idea whether the bowl of mac and cheese at Noodles & Co. is more calorie dense than the dinner I would eat at home. I suppose I could read up and carry around some tools or find an app on my phone. The problem is that I largely ignored the numbers because I was too lazy to do the mental math necessary to translate them into time-on-the-treadmill equivalents. But if menus did that for me, as this article in Time says may soon be the case? I have no doubt that I'd think twice about dessert if I read plain as day that I'd have to walk for two hours just to burn it off.

If I've learned anything from watching the treadmill display it's that time moves much more slowly when I'm running on a machine and that I don't burn nearly as many calories in an hour as I can inhale in ten minutes of beer and cheese curds. And I really don't need a menu to tell me that, but I bet it will help when it does.

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About This Blog

Contrary to the title of this blog, I'm not always on a health kick. I try (for the most part) to eat well and exercise regularly, but I'm far, far from perfect. I do, though, enjoy learning about health trends and scientific discoveries, and I hope to share information and pose questions that you might find interesting or useful. Hey, if you get a little inspired while you're reading, all the better. Just don't expect it on a regular basis. I'm a writer, not a celebrity trainer.

Why health? Well, I've been around the block enough times that I don't take it for granted anymore. I also recognize that our health is the result of myriad factors ranging from genetics to diet to habits to socioeconomic status to prejudices and beyond. It's a complicated puzzle with different pieces for each of us. That means there are few guarantees or absolutes and still a ton to discover. I never liked the rigidity of science in practice, but I love the insights it produces.

So let's start 2013 on a Health Kick. With any luck, we'll all be better for it.

– Jennifer Garrett 

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