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How I Lost 13 Lbs. In 48 Hours: The Existential Aspect

Updated on March 31, 2009

Yes, I just lost 13 pounds in the last 48 hours. I'm going to tell you why, but first you have to sit through a bit of background.

A few years ago, I managed to lose 84 lbs. in 8 months by doing it the old fashioned way: Eating less! I didn't avoid carbs, or protein, or high glycemic index foods, or darn near anything else. In those 8 months I ate whatever the heck I felt like, pizza, pasta, candy... I just ate less of it. Wow! What a concept!

It is my profound belief that the entire diet industry is a total scam. Endless clinical tests have proven over and over again that there are no diets that work in any way whatsoever other than cutting down the calories in the food you stuff in your gullet. I profoundly disagree with the throngs which insist that by eating this, that or another food you can magically lose 250 lbs. by Friday and look like a supermodel. I have always seen the multi-billion dollar diet industry for what it is: A snake oil ripoff factory which preys on the deluded.

I'm a real exercise freak: If anyone mentions exercise around me I freak out. My idea of exercise is to go get another soft drink can from the fridge. I do a single short flight of stairs about four times a day. Other than that, the only time I move is to get in and out of my car, usually to push a cart around the supermarket. Now that's what I call aerobic exercise!

I don't believe in exercise as a weight loss aid. Why? Sure, exercise is good for your entire body, but if we're just examining the weight loss factor, it's a huge waste of time. If you have a medium sized salad soaked in a conventional vinaigrette dressing it will take you THREE HOURS OF JOGGING to use up the calories. Three hours! I haven't jogged for three hours combined in my entire life! And if I ever did, I'd be so damn hungry that three extra large pizzas wouldn't be enough to satiate me.

You have to understand that there is a basic metabolic calorie burn per hour that you use up just by living. Whether you're sleeping or awake, you're burning X number of calories per hour. For most people this number is somewhere around 75 calories per hour. The more activity you do, the higher this number is. If you're a trained athlete running a marathon in cool weather at competitive speed for four hours, your calorie per hour burn rate will increase to about 400, or a total of 1,600 for the entire race. Now, 1,600 calories is a decent plate of pasta, and I can definitely assure you that given the choice between passing on the pasta or running a marathon for four hours, I'm always going to opt for the former. Especially when you consider I would have burned 300 of those calories anyway even if I was sitting and watching two back to back episodes of The Biggest Loser.

Ok, you've been patient enough to read down this far, I'm now going to get onto my 13 pounds in 48 hours story.

On Saturday night I cooked up a big Middle Eastern dinner for some friends. I really pigged out, gulping down three large pitas with tons of hummus, tzaziki, tabouli, garlic orzo... all home made! Yum. However, my friends were late and thus we ate much later than I'm used to, ending up around 7:30 pm. Since I'm an early to bed early to rise bird, I went to bed around 10:30 pm and woke up the next morning feeling a bit full as I hadn't given my system enough time to digest. That feeling stayed with me all day, leading to a considerably smaller intake of food than is my usual. Although I had no idea of what the effect was going to be and thus I didn't meticulously measure and weigh everything I ate, the following numbers from that great free calorie counting calculator site are pretty close:

Meat loaf: 8 oz, 462 calories, 27.5g fat, 14.6g carbs, 36.7g proteins
Celery: 4 medium stalks (7-1/2" - 8" long), 26 0 calories, .3g fat, 4.8g carbs, 1.1g proteins
Coffee: mocha: 16 fl oz, 394 calories, 9.2g fat, 67.0g carbs, 11.0g proteins
Yogurt, plain: 8 oz, 225 calories, 2.6g fat, 42.3g carbs, 9.0g proteins
Yogurt, fruit variety: 8 oz, 231 calories, 2.4g fat, 43.2g carbs, 9.9g proteins
Cookie, brownie, without icing: 2 oz, 215 calories, 7.8g fat, 35.5g carbs, 2.7g proteins


1,552 calories, 49.8g fat, 207.3g carbs, 70.4g proteins.

The next day was a more or less normal day, although for the second day running I didn't cook as I usually do and generally ate out of the fridge:

Meat loaf: 8 oz, 462 calories, 27.5g fat, 14.6g carbs, 36.7g proteins
Celery, raw: 7 medium stalks (7-1/2" - 8" long), 45 0 calories, .5g fat, 8.3g carbs, 1.9g proteins
Cheese, natural, Cheddar: 6 oz, 685 calories, 56.4g fat, 2.2g carbs, 42.4g proteins
Coffee: mocha: 16 fl oz, 394 calories, 9.2g fat, 67.0g carbs, 11.0g proteins
Yogurt, fruit variety: 8 oz, 231 calories, 2.4g fat, 43.2g carbs, 9.9g proteins
Grapes, raw: 3 cups, seedless, 331 calories, 0.8g fat, 86.9g carbs, 3.5g proteins
Peanut butter and jelly: 1 tablespoon, 65 calories, 3.5g fat, 7.7g carbs, 1.7g proteins
Peanut butter and jelly: 1 sandwich, 327 calories, 14.2g fat, 42.2g carbs, 10.3g proteins
Orange juice: 12 fl oz, 169 calories, 0.2g fat, 40.7g carbs, 2.5g proteins
Bread: 1 regular slice, 69 calories, 0.9g fat, 13.2g carbs, 2.0g proteins
Cookie, brownie, without icing: 3 oz, 322 calories, 11.7g fat, 53.2g carbs, 4.0g proteins


3,101 calories 127.2g fat, 379.2g carbs, 125.9g proteins.

OK, so total caloric intake for that 48 hour period: 4,653, or an average of 2,328 calories per day.

According to my weight, height, age, etc. that should be just a touch over my healthy intake to maintain my current weight (which by the way, is in the significantly obese range).

So... what happened?

I weigh myself every single morning first thing. My scale is spot on as I calibrate it with various scales in pharmacies, etc. In the last 48 hours I lost 13 lbs. That is an indisputable fact.

In order to picture this amount of weight, take 26 raw steaks of 8 ounces each and pile them one atop each other on your kitchen counter.

Now when you figure that approximately 3,500 calories equal a pound of fat, my metabolic calorie burn rate had to exceed my intake by a total of 45,500. Let's put it another way... I would have had to run at marathon speed for over 121 continuous hours, running over 30 full 26.2 mile races ... in 48 hours.

Yeah, sure.

What did I do in those 48 hours? Nothing out of the ordinary. I certainly didn't exercise one iota more than any other day. I mostly sat in front of my PC and TV.

OK, so by now the nutritionists and dieticians are waving their hands in the air explaining that it's not just exercise that loses weight, but transpiration and excretion. OK, without getting into the nasty details, there is nooooooooooo way in hell that I was able to excrete 26 8 oz steaks in the two completely average B.M.s I had in that time. Nor was my urination anything other than average. Perspiration? Hell, it's still 42 degrees F. up here. It's not like I'm toasting my butt in Barbados.

So... what DID happen?

I got busy. No... not THAT kind of busy. I was working a bit more than usual in my writing. I had a bunch of Hubs that I wrote and posted, and a couple of deadlines from other writing clients. Again, nothing too out of the ordinary, but enough that my mind was occupied chasing the author's muse considerably more than in a normal two day span.

And, no, typing doesn't burn up 22,750 calories a day. I wish it did as in a couple of months I'd look like Zac Efron... with gray hair and a few more wrinkles.

Therefore what possible reason can we apply to this weight loss? Jean-Paul Sartre. No, he's not my personal trainer. From Wikipedia:

A French existentialist philosopher, playwright, novelist, screenwriter, political activist, biographer, and literary critic. He was one of the leading figures in 20th century French philosophy. In Existentialism consciousness is consciousness of itself insofar as it is consciousness of a transcendent object.

You can definitely go into all sorts of existentialist debate at this point and basically just rehash all that has already been said over and over again in the past half century. I'll spare you that chore, as I'll spare you the comments of "Hal's really lost it this time," as I absolutely do not class myself as an existentialist, or other looney tune New Age spiritual guru, since I'm trained as a scientist. In fact, my most recent international bestselling non-fiction book translated into 14 languages is on a medical topic!

However, there are times in human experience when we have to confront issues which have no possible logical explanation, like the time a couple of years ago where I was in a jetliner high over Baffin Island and several of the people on my side of the aircraft, including myself, saw a black object traveling at what has to be estimated of a minimum of Mach 20 to 30 fly from the horizon to under our aircraft.

OK, so you can now hit me with the fact that it was an illusion, visual light effect, whatever. But the point about something more tangible than that whatever-flying-thing-was remains, what happened to those 26 8 oz. steaks I was carrying around 2 days ago? They were no illusion. They were here. Now they're gone.

Is the answer existentialist? Is the answer theologically miraculous? Is the answer some medical gobbledigook about increased transpiration rate due to my longer than normal period of concentration?

Well... I think I know which one I'm leaning to.

Oh, and by the way... my leaning has to do with the fact that you may be surprised to learn that you don't exist. Happy Sartreing!


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    • Hal Licino profile imageAUTHOR

      Hal Licino 

      9 years ago from Toronto

      Anxiety is good as it raises your basal metabolic rate and helps you to burn off more calories! :)

    • profile image

      Weight Loss 

      9 years ago

      Interesting. Thank you.

    • Hal Licino profile imageAUTHOR

      Hal Licino 

      9 years ago from Toronto

      Teresa McGurk: You have to try the Blizzard with cookie dough pieces but make sure to tell them to hold the chocolate sauce. It's absolutely divine! And at only 1,000+ calories for an extra large, it's a fantastic weight loss aid on the Existentialist Diet! Dang, I could probably slurp up three of those a day and still lose 6 pounds! :)

      maven101: Keep those abs tight, you never know when you'll have to confront Camus' Paradox Of The Abs! :)

      Aya Katz: Wow! If only I'd known this! I would have spent my life watching Robin Williams and George Carlin standups! I'd be as skinny as a rail! :)

      Christa Dovel: Thank you for your serendipidous comment. I know where the 13 lbs went! In the middle of the night I was beamed up to the mothership, and the aliens surgically took them out! :)

    • Christa Dovel profile image

      Christa Dovel 

      9 years ago from The Rocky Mountains, North America

      Love it -- Weight loss and aliens, all in one! I think half of the weight problems are in peoples heads; of course, I'm not a scientist. :D

    • Aya Katz profile image

      Aya Katz 

      9 years ago from The Ozarks

      Hal, when we are happy we burn more calories. When we are sad, we burn fewer calories. I'm not kidding. They don't call it depression for nothing. My guess is: you got happy!

    • maven101 profile image


      9 years ago from Northern Arizona

      My kind of humor..!!! Loved this belly laugh a day....Really tightens up those abs...

      Camus would be struck with the absurdity, but then he didn't have much of a sense of humor...

    • Teresa McGurk profile image


      9 years ago from The Other Bangor

      Hilarious. I'm starting my Jean-Paul Sartre diet now (after I finish this Blizzard from Dairy Queen).


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