I went out early (ish) on Sunday morning for a run, intending to be out for about 40 minutes. I had no fixed idea of where I was going to go so I just set off down some lanes near the house to see where they took me. It was lovely out - really quiet and peaceful with only the sound of the rabbits running for their lives away from the awful red puffing thing thundering towards them.
I like to pretend I am a real runner by wearing a heart rate monitor when I am out. I don't do anything clever with it like interval training or trying to actually keep my heart rate in the recommended zone (that would be fruitless anyway: one of the first things I had to do with it was to turn off the sound as the anguished beeping it emitted every time my heart rate exceeded the recommended level was distracting me. Constantly). No, I use it primarily for two things: checking how long I have been running for ("Only 10 minutes???? You have to be kidding me, I am DYING here!") and monitoring how many calories I am burning ("Only 50????? You have to be kidding me!" etc.) It was whilst doing the second of these things that I idly watched how many calories were being burned and, particularly, how much running I had to do to burn off 30 calories.
When I am pottering about in the kitchen (which I do a lot) sometimes I just have to eat something......anything, and what I tend to eat is black sesame rice cakes. They are quite tasty and only have 27 calories per cake. It occurred to me, watching that calorie count on the HRM crawl past 27 calories as I struggled along the road, that if I was told that I could only have a rice cake if I earned the calories for it first, I probably wouldn't bother. It just wouldn't seem worth the effort. But because there is no-one doing that when I am mooching about making the kids' packed lunches, I just go ahead and eat one. Or five. Without even thinking about it. And that's when I realised that what all of us who find weight control so hard really need is pay-as-you-go calories. Some system that means you can eat whatever the hell you like PROVIDED you earn the calories first. That would really hammer home the connection between your activity level and your calorie intake. It's just a pity that what real life presents us with instead is a calorie credit card with no upper limit.