A couple of weeks ago, my company sent a few of its employees (including me) to attend a Women’s Health Conference. It was sort of fun and informative, though it was kind of a long day for me to be in a building with that many women talking about womany things. I mean, I know I am a woman and stuff, but I don’t especially like a lot of the things traditionally discussed by women in large groups. For example: fashion, makeup, historical pseudo-romantic fiction… The whole time I was there I didn’t meet a single person who seemed a likely candidate for discussing Doctor Who, Harry Potter, Legos, or the latest in companion mammal veterinary medicine.
Of course the best thing to come out of any conference (other than free food) is the swag, right? I collected numerous pencils and pens, assorted mini-chocolates, and a few other little items, but there was one freebie that stood out.
The latest weight-loss fad I have heard about on the radio is the “cold laser”. This is actually a misnomer; the laser doesn’t freeze you – it just isn’t hot like most lasers. I had learned a bit about it at the vet conference I attended in January because it has recently gained some momentum in the veterinary field. Not for weight loss, mind you, but for more therapeutic purposes – easing the pain of arthritis, speeding the healing process, etc. I know it’s considered very safe. Anyway, being a skeptical person, I remember thinking this sounded a bit like a placebo treatment but I was curious. As it happens, one of the companies in town that does this was at the conference, so I stopped to talk with the guy at the booth. As part of a conference special, they were offering a free treatment to anyone who stopped at their booth. I would never pay to try something like this, but since it was free I thought “What the hell?” I’m sure the idea behind it is once they get you to try it, you will be so impressed you will gladly fork surrender your life savings and/or your first-born child in order to have more treatments (and by the way, the pricing for these treatments is not displayed on the website or any of the printed materials they had at the conference, so I knew this would not be cheap.*
For my treatment, I opted to have the lasers applied to my upper arms in the hopes that if nothing else, I would be slightly less likely to knock over small children with my batwings when I wave. The laser application lasted about 20 minutes, and it was completely painless. The technician measured marked three places on my arms, and measured the diameter before and after the lasers. While hooking up the lasers she told me they generally expect a reduction of about 1/4 to 1/2 inch on each arm, but that it varies a bit from person to person (as with anything). So after the treatment when she measured me again, we were both surprised to see the maximum reduction was 1-1/4 inches in one spot! Well, color me convinced.
That was pretty damned impressive, but that was not what shocked me. What the treatment does is release the fat from the cells in the targeted area. this we’ll all that energy available to your body to burn off. However if you don’t burn it off, the body just stores it again and you’re right back where you started. So in order to make the treatment you need to exercise within 3 hours to burn off 350 calories. So I’m like “oh just 350 calories? No problem!”
I WAS SUCH A FOOL.
Do you know how far I have to walk/run to burn off 350 calories? Only about 3.1 miles. THREE POINT ONE MILES. That’s 5k, baby.
Which got me thinking about how we list the calories on food and beverages, but most people don’t know what those numbers really mean. I mean most of us know what calories are, but how many people really know how hard you have to work to burn them off? And that is how I came up with my next great idea.
What if every food and beverage product were labeled with an Exercise equivalent? For example, (and these are just guesses, mind you).
One Snickers bar = 3.1 miles running.
One can of Mountain Dew = 1.5 miles running.
One double chocolate jumbo muffin with chocolate frosting = One full marathon run at a pace of nine minutes per mile.
Wouldn’t you think twice about supersizing your french fries if you knew it would mean an extra 75 minutes on the treadmill? I know I sure as hell would. Now if you’ll excuse me, it’s time for me to choke down my incredibly healthy lunch, which contains absolutely zero servings of chocolate muffin.
* At $200 per treatment (which is not covered by insurance), it isn’t cheap. But the staff will be happy to tell you how much cheaper and safer it is compared to liposuction or gastric bypass surgery. And of course they will be delighted to help you set up a payment plan. Nevermind that in order to set up a payment plan, you need to be able to afford the payments in the first place.