How Many Calories in a Lie?

Featured Article by Jon Hanson

Eventually sabotaging self-talk becomes spoken aloud and begins to affect others; some of this talk even rises to status of an untrue truism—for lack of a better descriptor. How long has it been since you’ve heard this popular excuse:  “I’ve tried everything to lose weight! Nothing works for me!”?  Really? Everything? Including total integrity with common sense exercise over a year or more? No? Isn’t it mathematically impossible to try everything?  In a song I wrote about 50 pounds ago, the chorus lyric is, “I’ll do anything to get in shape, except diet and exercise…I’ll think about it tomorrow while I’m eating my last Big Mac and Fries.” The Fat Devil’s biggest lie is: there is no hurry, you can do it tomorrow. Can I super-size that [gut] for you?

My favorite fat lie: “The older you get the harder it is to lose weight“…(insert a big long sigh).” Yes, those older fat cells are more wily and cunning than the fat of our youth! Do we believe our fat gets smarter but we don’t?  l am 55 years old and have lost 46 pounds (1 to 2 pounds a week) over the last 207 days. Lately when people ask what I am doing to lose weight, I say, “pie-hole management and a little walking!”  I am not a P90X type guy. I don’t always work up a sweat, but I do move for an hour a day, every day. I use Tony Horton’s lesser known Workouts for Wussies-aka P30X.  I often get the feeling most folks want me to tell them I am doing something horribly difficult so they can rationalize why they can’t do it.

If I gave you in a sentence or two everything you need to get into shape and stay fit, your mind might not accept it. Many are convinced weight loss success is complicated, or perhaps is in the next diet book, or the next magic pill, emerald coffee bean, or packaged fairy dust with slick million dollar marketing and ten cent research (i.e. Sensa®).   Better to use your money for what works; diet and exercise. Use the $500 a year you save on magic beans and fairy dust to buy a Fit Bit ( and some good walking shoes (2 pair), and perhaps a membership at a decent gym. To aid your pie-hole management try honest logging at,  a free website and phone app, i-Phone and Android ( actually tracks your steps and calories burnt and adjusts These are two of the best on the web. While a Fit Bit tracker runs from $59 to $99, depending on model, it actually works and is just plain cool. It has the motion tracking similar to a Sony Wii and the one I have tracks stairs climbed, steps, calories burned, and miles walked.

Weight Loss Success in a Nutshell

FAROTIFood Activity Ratio Over Time with Integrity permanently recorded; this is the key to weight management. Weight loss or gain is knowing and monitoring/adjusting the ratio between the fuel you eat and the fuel you burn.  What I love about the Fitbit and is they make my tracking easier and quicker. I can enter food eaten easily (or just scan the bar code with my phone) and it keeps a running balance of my Food/Activity ratio.  Fitbit is like a good spouse, faithfully updating my “dieting checkbook” and recording steps walked and calories burned, to add to my allowable calorie count. The idea is to pick a caloric deficit (commonly 500 or 1000 a day) and use the tracking tools to monitor and stick to it. Last week my weekly Fitbit report showed 10,445 calories eaten and 16,983 burned. I ran a deficit of -6,538 calories and lost a little over a pound.   My maintenance rate of calories is about 2,200 a day. Base metabolic rate (maybe 1600 for me) is the amount of calories you burn just to survive This is one of the better calculators I have seen. In Fat 2 Fit (Ainslie & Turley, 2010) the authors describe metabolic rate:

“A person’s basal metabolic rate (BMR) is similar to the amount of energy that a car uses when it is idling at a red light. When that car starts driving, it burns fuel at a much faster rate. Just like a car, all of the activities that a person does throughout the day will increase his energy needs. Going to work, cleaning house, walking, and even chewing gum, burns calories over and beyond a person’s BMR.”

A good illustration about how BMR and how additional activity aids weight loss is described in an article in Experience Life Magazine.

“In 2007, two Harvard University researchers, Alia Crum and Ellen Langer, published a study of hotel maids and their exercise habits. A hotel maid cleans, on average, 15 rooms a day, and each room takes 20 to 30 minutes to complete. Take a moment and imagine an hour in the life of one of these maids — walking, bending, pushing, lifting, carrying, scrubbing and dusting. What they are doing, in short, is exercising.”

The maids were divided into two groups. One received a document explaining the benefits of exercise, and were told that their daily work was sufficient to get these benefits.

“Four weeks later, the researchers checked in with the maids and were astounded to find that the maids who’d been told that they were good exercisers had lost an average of 1.8 pounds. That’s almost half a pound a week, which is a pretty substantial rate of loss. The other maids hadn’t lost any weight.” (Heath & Heath, 2010).

Here are two brief ideas from Wayne Dyer’s Excuses Begone! To succeed you have to be fully satisfied in your mind that a thing is doable. If it is not doable in your mind, you might as well quit now. Second, when hit with an excuse, even of your own making, ask: “Is it true?”  Usually it is not. (Dyer, 2011)

The key to most of my success in weight losshas been tracking with integrity. I have posted my 206 day Excel sheet here (as a pdf):  This is where I will post a few items while I decide whether to actually write a book on the subject. Though I am down 46 pounds, I have about 27 pounds to go. If you have comments, ideas, or a great title or segment idea, contact me by email jon @

Tough guy Steve Siebold says, “You can’t treat dieting like a hobby” (Siebold, 2009). I agree! From my experience, losing weight is very similar to debt and money management (Hanson, 2005).  We are ultimately responsible for everything we shove into our bodies. Many normal people, and the 535 in congress, seem indignant that they should have to make a budget, or track food and exercise.

I have started over again, “on Monday”,  probably 100 times in the past 30 years. I can say I haven’t seen my navel without the aid of a dental mirror since 1969 (age 13).  For a guy that probably should have been in the 165 to 175 range, I was constantly around 200 to 220 pounds. I had a slight heart attack in 2006 while I was out promoting my book Good Debt, Bad Debt (Penguin, 2005).  I probably weighed just under 200 when this blood pressure- induced episode happened. After I rehabbed I slowed down, quit exercising, embraced self pity, and eventually hit 234 pounds, I know! Disgusting right?  On April 10, 2012 I had had enough. I decided to do something. I began with what I knew, a kind of ketogenic /Atkins style diet and began losing weight for the hundredth time.  In the background I could almost hear Merle Haggard softly sing, mockingly perhaps, yet, oddly encouraging me with this variation lyric: Today I Stopped Starting Over Again. My apologies in advance to Merle.


Today I Stopped Starting Over Again

I’m tired of being right where I’ve really always been;

It’s time that I make this much more than just a trend,

’cause Today I Stopped Starting Over Again ♫♪♫

I have found a decent variety of good food works for me. The Atkins diet can work, but I favor more fruits and vegetables. So long as you approach whatever diet you select, (after clearing it with your doctor), and  proceed with Rock Solid Integrity, you will be successful.  And remember, there are better things in life than food, and yes, Bubba, it’s OK to go to bed hungry.

About Jon Hanson:

Jon Hanson, is author of Good Debt, Bad Debt: Knowing the difference can save your financial life (Penguin 2005, 2007) A long-time real estate guy, currently 30.6 percent body fat, striving for 17 percent?  We’ll see!  Starting weight 231, April 10, 2012. Started using Fitbit August 7, 2012 which has made tracking so much easier. Current weight about 186 dehydrated and nude with a southwest wind to my back. My goal about 160, and that should be reached by Ground Hog day 2013.  Ideas and  comments to jon @ Related items and links for this article   My working title for my proposed book is Fatonomics: From Fat to Fit for Life, I would love to hear your ideas, especially on a subtitle, or topic ideas, content wise.  Thanks to Julie Springer, my songwriter buddy from the land of ‘Da Bears’ for the title idea for this article. Julie also introduced me to


Ainslie, J., & Turley, R. (2010). Fat 2 fit: Getting There & Staying There. (1st ed.). United States: Fat 2 Fit Radio via Lulu.

Dyer, W. W. (2011). Excuses Begone!: How to change lifelong, self-defeating thinking habits. New York, NY: Hay House Inc.

Hanson, Jon (2005). Good Debt, Bad Debt: Knowing the difference can save your financial life New York, NY. Penguin Group USA

Heath, C. & Heath, D. (2010, July/August). Switch: Brilliant ways to change things for the better — even when change is hard. Experience Life, 50-56.

Siebold, Steve (2009) Die Fat or Get Tough: 101 differences between fat people and fit people. London House

Seligman, M. E. P. (2011). Flourish: A visionary new understanding of happiness and well-being. New York: Free Press.

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  1. What a great article. It’s amazing the stories I”ve told myself over the years but at the ripe old age of 45 I finally decided to get real 🙂

  2. There are a lot of calories in a lie-about 50 pounds worth for me! I loved this article. Somehow we seem conditioned to avoid common sense when it comes to weight loss. Thanks for the reminder that its actually key.I hope to see more articles like this!

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