kitchen table math, the sequel: 35 lbs

## Wednesday, August 21, 2013

### 35 lbs

Chris has lost 35 lbs.

35 lbs! Since June 6. Today is August 21, so that's 11 weeks.

I've lost weight, too, though I can't report how much since I haven't been weighing myself. At least 5 lbs, maybe more. Shorts that were too tight to wear at in June are loose now.

AND: I think I finally understand the Premack principle, which I'm certain is the basis of the VB6 diet we've both been following. VB6 is the first diet I've encountered that uses eating to reinforce not eating* -- and it works, just as the principle predicts. I would never have guessed, even though I've been reading about the Premack principle for years. I wouldn't have guessed because until now I haven't understood the principle.

I am now thinking PP is the secret to life. (Unless response deprivation is the secret to life. Clearly I need a MOOC on radical behaviorism.)

I'll try to find time to explain tomorrow.

* Or, more accurately, eating stuff you do like to reinforce eating stuff you don't like

Glen said...

I'm wondering a little about this. A pound of fat is about 3500 calories. A pound of body weight loss varies depending on composition (water, fat, muscle), but 3500 calories per pound is probably about right after the initial water loss.

A pound per week loss would be 3500kcal/7days = 500 kcal/day. If Chris has lost 35 lbs in 11 weeks, that's more than 3 lbs/wk. That would mean that since June 6, his lifestyle has changed so much that the sum of food reduction and exercise increase amounts to over 1500 kcal/day.

I'm over 200 lbs, and it's a hard, time-consuming workout for me to burn 500 kcal. This leads me to suspect that the majority of Chris's 1500+ kcal comes from a dietary change.

I can't help wondering if such a huge change is sustainable for a lifetime. If he did it by cutting out a party-sized bag of potato chips per day--as a friend of mine did--I'd say it was; otherwise, I'd suspect it was not. If not sustainable, then a behaviorist technique is being used to reinforce behavior that cannot become habitual, which is probably not the best way to use the technique.

Such rapid weight loss also tends to remove muscle, which is a lot harder to gain back than fat, so I hope he's doing a lot of weight lifting to diligently conserve muscle.

I can't help thinking that if I found a powerful behavior modification technique, I would probably want to use it to create and automatize sustainable eating habits that would serve me for a lifetime. Even if it took longer to reach my preferred weight, reaching it without muscle loss and staying there for the rest of my life by unconscious, entrained habit instead of repeated weight loss campaigns would be my ideal outcome.

Anonymous said...

Just wondering: are you sure that "a pound is 3500 calories". Is it possible that that often-stated "fact" is an over-simplification of something much more complex? After all, one is a unit of mass, another of energy so there must be a bunch of unstated assumptions about the mechanism that connects them. And what happens in a calorimeter does not always correspond to what happens in your body. I don't think that it is anything close to settled science that a calorie is a calorie is a calorie...

Glen said...

I agree. But it's the best I have for my back-of-the-envelope energy-mass conversions. E = mc^2 just didn't look right.