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Humans Are Not Computers

Thank you for reading this week’s Operation Melt update.

Operation Melt started as a blog to share my personal transformation and weight loss story. After achieving success with that goal, Operation Melt has evolved into a platform to help inspire, motivate and equip people to achieve their own personal and professional goals so they can live their best lives.

I am trying to build a world where no goal ever dies of loneliness.

Throughout my journey, I have learned that many life lessons can be learned by getting fit. This week I am sharing another installment of Fitness Lessons are Life Lessons.

In previous posts, I have discussed how a weight loss journey (see My Mental Struggles Part 1 & Part 2 for an example), like any big transformation, is as much (or even more) mental than it is physical. Today’s post discusses one of the most challenging mental barriers that we need to push through during a personal transformation. Check back next week for more about internal vs. external or private vs. public transformations.

Computers Make Sense

I wrote my first computer program during my first week of first grade. I went to a math and science-focused elementary school in Columbus, Ohio and was very fortunate to have access to computers throughout my entire school career. Beyond school, we also always had computers in our home starting with our original Timex Sinclair 1000.

Computers have always made sense to me. You give them very basic commands and they do exactly what you expect every time. They are logical and predictable. If you know the right commands, you are in control. If this, then that.

Today, with smartphones, we all walk around with more powerful computers in our pockets than I ever had during my first thirty plus years of technology. Nearly every one of us has constant access to technology throughout our lives.

This constant access to these devices over which we have complete control can sometimes skew how we look at other aspects of our lives. They give us an illusion of control that we may not really have in other, non-computer areas.

Weight Changes

Throughout my weight loss journey, the formula for success was simple. It was logical.

If I consume fewer calories than I burn, if I create a daily calorie deficit, my body burns fat for a portion of its fuel and I lose weight. It was computer-like predictability for a long time, but then 2020 arrived.

So far in 2020, I have consumed roughly 819,000 calories of food and drink or roughly 2566 calories per day. I have burned a total of around 1,202,000 calories or roughly 3767 calories per day. This means I have had a total calorie deficit of over 383,000 this year or a daily calorie deficit of around 1200.

Using the rule of thumb that a calorie burn of around 3000 equates to burning one pound of fat, I should have been in a constant weight loss this year. I should have lost 128 pounds if you do the math.

I assure you that I have not lost 128 pounds; I have actually gained weight on a significant calorie deficit.

My average weekly weight this year has increased about 10 pounds, or 4%, versus where I ended last year. To dig a little deeper into what’s happening under the covers, I took a look at my body fat percentage – which I do about every 6 months.

For the past year or more, my body fat has hovered around 13.5%. Which, for you long-time readers, is a number that has made me pretty happy. Unfortunately, my latest body fat measurement was 14.4%, so I am up just over 1%.

This means that I have gained about 6 pounds of lean muscle mass and about 4 pounds of fat. I have done this while increasing my average calorie deficit by more than 6% and my average calorie burn by more than 13%.

Humans Are Not Computers

When I reviewed all of this information, I was totally stumped. How could I have gained any fat when my calorie deficit has increased. That’s not how the math worked. That’s when I got a big reality check from my trainer. She said something that really resonated with me.

“Humans are not computers!”

The factors that influence our weight aren’t always so straightforward. It is not always a simple, two-variable equation. There are other factors at play as we are very complicated machines. Here is a list of things, outside of calories in and calories out that can impact our weight.

  • Water
  • Sodium
  • Sleep
  • Stress
  • Protein
  • Carbohydrates
  • Under-eating / over-training
  • Too much cardio
  • Too little cardio
  • Too much weight training
  • Too little weight training
  • Slowing / increasing metabolism
  • Thermic Affect of Food
  • Non Exercise Activity Thermogenesis

That’s a pretty long list, right? Our bodies are very complex and over-simplifying is a good way to drive ourselves crazy. It gives us an illusion of control in places where we actually don’t have direct control. The result is that we think we are broken, we over-stress ourselves and we undercut the joy in our lives. This is the opposite of the original goal of self-improvement.

Work A Different Muscle

The good news is that we have options. But, we are going to have to give a different muscle a good workout. We need to train our brains.

Like anything that impacts our happiness, we need to change our mindset. We need to find ways to remind ourselves of two major points.

Just a Number

Our weight is just a number. It doesn’t define us and has nothing to do with who we really are. As long as you are healthy, happy and safe, your weight is not something that is broken about you (see Defects & Enhancements). It is just something to continue to manage, improve and to accept.

I continue to remind myself that the difference between 200 pounds and 210 pounds is tiny, especially when 6 of those pounds is lean muscle. Plus, for the first time in my life, I am comfortable with how my body looks in the mirror. That is a big step for me and 4 pounds of fat would interfere with that, especially when that fat will go up and down over time.

This same reminder applies to any number that is causing you frustration. Is your income too low, did you not get enough likes, is your running speed too slow? The same idea applies to all of the areas of your life.

Influence vs. Control

The second point to keep in mind involves the illusion of control. There are many things in this world over which you do not have direct control. Your weight is one of these things. But there are countless others too. All you have control over is your behavior and your choices today.

But, you do have influence over these other areas.

For example, you have influence over your weight. In general, despite everything I said above, your weight is a result of diet and exercise. Eat reasonable amounts of healthy foods and get plenty of exercise and you will be able to manage your weight. But, you don’t have direct control over your weight, otherwise you could just wish it down. Make good choices and you will influence positive results.

This applies elsewhere in your life too. Do you want to earn more money? Make good choices daily in your job and work hard to add lots of value. Make smart investments. Live below your means. All of these things choices that you have control over will ultimately influence your income in the right direction.

These same points all apply in your relationships with other people as well. You can not control what somebody else is going to do. But, you may be able to influence their behaviors with your choices.

By taking steps to change your mindset about the things that are frustrating you, the frustration will simply melt away. By accepting where you are. By not giving one number so much power over your happiness. And by keeping a good perspective on control versus influence. You will keep reminding yourself that you are not a computer, you are way more complex, and you can help maximize your happiness.

I Need Your Help

Before you go I would like to ask you for a favor. I can’t build a world where no goal ever dies of loneliness on my own. Please consider helping your friends find today’s post by following me on Facebook, on LinkedIn or via Instagram and share today’s post to your feed.

While you are at it, I’d love to hear your thoughts on today’s post, your goals or anything else on your mind. Send me a note via my Contact Me form,

Thanks again for reading today’s post and here’s to achieving your most important goals!

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Published inFitness Lessons are Life LessonsMy Journey Updates

Disclaimer: The Operation Melt website and blog does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. The information provided on this website is intended for general consumer understanding and entertainment only. The information provided is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. As health and nutrition research continuously evolves, we do not guarantee the accuracy, completeness, or timeliness of any information presented on this website.

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