Work Hard, Not Smart
Recently, I commented on how I’ve lost a little ground in my “Weight Loss Journey.” And yes, I just threw up in my mouth a little bit. That insufferable, trendy phrase probably emerged from the irritating part of the Internet where people look way happier than they are in real life (Instagram), or that part that is inhabited by a rabid pack of keyboard jackals constantly looking for someone to tear to shreds (Twitter), or the part where faceless tech geeks are diligently collecting your personal data for use by an increasingly encroaching authoritarian government (TikTok). But that’s beside the point. The point is that it makes me nauseous.
Actually, most of that paragraph was beside the point. I recently gained ten pounds back and am trying to get back to losing weight again. I’ve already figured out how to get the food under control, which is mostly to avoid the beer, dessert, and fried things I’ve been getting for free at post-pandemic celebrations. And also, to stop fudging my Cronometer entries. But there are also some simple ways to bring the exercise numbers up.
One thing I mentioned in the last post is that I have taken to commuting to work by bike again. This is a good way to fit exercise into my schedule, and I tend to burn 600 to 800 calories a day this way. But I was thinking of ways to increase the burn. I mean I could go faster and really get my heart rate up, but then I’d be a sweaty mess at work. Nobody would come near me. Actually, that might not be a bad thing. Misanthropy is a common reason people become accountants, so being left alone sounds pretty good actually.
But then another solution presented itself. I’ve noticed that a lot of the people I see riding their bikes are pedaling a lot faster, but not going much faster. So, obviously they’re in a lower gear. Meaning they have to pedal more times to go the same distance. More work to go the same distance equals more calories worked off.
I realized why this hadn’t occurred to me before. I was brought up with the principle of “work smart, not hard”. Meaning we should endeavor to do things in the most efficient manner possible. It’s good for my career. Efficiency means we get things done quickly and make money. Accountants are known as efficiency experts. It’s why we get chicks. Except that it’s not. We don’t get chicks. At least not that many. I mean I’m married, but I wasn’t exactly Casanova when I was single.
But it also occurred to me that “work smart, not hard” isn’t the best principle when exercising. By selecting a higher gear, I get less exercise traveling to work. Weight loss is actually about being inefficient. You want to move around a lot and eat whole foods that are harder for your body to digest and result in fewer net calories absorbed. You want to eat lots of relatively low calorie, nutrient dense stuff. The efficient way would be the opposite. So I’ve been thinking of ways to add inefficiency into my exercise routines.
Biking isn’t the only thing I could do more inefficiently. I occasionally go jogging too. And I’ve noticed that when I’ve gone jogging in the mountains on uneven terrain, it’s a lot more work than a track or a sidewalk. Of course, we don’t have mountains in Florida, so it’s not really an option unless I’m on vacation. But we do have beaches. And jogging over sand is a lot of work. Although I might want to avoid getting a margarita or twelve at the tiki bar once I’m done.
I also mentioned recently that I’ve taken up weight lifting. Twice, actually. But there is a temptation to rush through a weight routine. But I get more exercise if I go slow, and make sure each lift or push up or sit up is complete. When I rush, there’s a tendency to only do half of a push up, or lift, or sit up. This means the actual work being done is less than I think it is.
If I do give in to the impulse to go to a bar or the corner store to get beer or other libations, I can get into the habit of walking. This may add thirty minutes to an hour to my trip, but it works off a good 100 to 150 calories. And reduces the chance of a DUI to zero. Although it may increase the chance of a mugging. Wild Florida men may occasionally lie in wait near the bar. Although fighting is decent exercise too. And weight loss is not uncommon when recovering from severe injuries in a hospital. That might be a bit too inefficient though.
I mentioned in one of my first blog posts that just working in the yard is a good way to get in shape while also doing something productive. So to increase inefficiency, maybe I’ll pull only one or two weeds at a time. Besides, rushing when pulling weeds and grabbing a handful means you miss a few, but taking it slow means you can get every last one. Similarly rushing when raking means you miss leaves. And when I mow the lawn, I really should not just mow, but also take time to edge, then trim. This takes longer, but takes more off of the waist. Taking the time to do it right produces better results for my health and my yard.
House repairs are another way to get a little physical, yet practical, activity. And as hurricane season looms, it is inevitable that I’ll have to repair the fence when sections blow down. My current approach to this is to not repair the fence until my wife yells at me to do it. And then do a sloppy job, because I’m in a hurry to get done and would rather not spend time on irritating chores. But this is not good for weight loss. Or marriage happiness. If I take more time and get it looking right, I’ll burn more fat, and she’ll yell less.
The same rules apply to inside work. If I’m sweeping and mopping, I should take the time to get every nook and cranny. And I avoid using the robot. That’s cheating. Besides it’s probably just monitoring me and communicating information about me through Siri which will be organized into a massive database on human behavior and then implanted into a human/robot brain interface made by the Tesla guy, producing cybernetic organisms (cyborgs) which may or may not look like Arnold Schwarzeneggar (hopefully the younger version) and ultimately terminate the human race. Best not to use it and do the work myself. This produces better physical health and better cleaning results (and therefore, less wife yelling), and also prevents human extinction. Good results all around.
Another thing I can do is go on a neolithic vacation. Camping is efficient financially (it’s super cheap, which always appeals to accountants) but very inefficient in terms of work. You have to cook all of your food, build a fire, set up tents, and various other hunter gatherer activities that most humans spurn. So when I take a couple weeks off, I’ll do that. The wife likes camping. She won’t yell.
There is a common thread here with all of the exercise I’ve been getting. I still, like many people, tend to think of exercise as a chore, and try to hurry through it with the least effort possible. So I need to get into the habit of not thinking of it as merely a chore. Even when it is, like lawn mowing. If I think of it as an opportunity to maximize calorie burn by taking the time to do it right, I’ll lose a lot more. As well as prevent wife yelling and the end of humanity at the hands of artificial intelligence.
Originally published at http://drilldowndiet.home.blog on March 26, 2022.