Thursday, January 1, 2009

Basal Metabolic Rate

I belt out my fair share of 4-letter words. But one of the worse ones I can think of is "Diet"! I'm not a huge fan of eating, if I could take a pill in place of a meal that would suit me just fine. But, that being said, I also don't like to restricted on what I can eat...if I want powdered donuts and Mountain Dew for breakfast then that's what I want.

Now, I'm not going to tackle what you should eat yet but rather how much. My dad doesn't know anything about nutrition other than the four basic food groups but even he grasps the idea that if you want to loose weight you have to burn more calories than you take in. So, how do you know how many calories you burn?

That's where your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) comes into play. The BMR is the number of calories your body would burn if you did absolutely nothing all day. I mean, if we lived the dream of being able to say in bed all day and watch tv and even had someone to operate the remote for us the BMR would be the number of calories you'd burn during that glorious day.

Ok, time for some math people. Here's how you calculate your BMR:

BMR = 66 + (6.23 x weight in pounds) + (12.7 x height in inches) - (6.8 x age in years)

BMR = 655 + (4.35 x weight in pounds) + (4.7 x height in inches) - (4.7 x age in years)

Here's a link to a calculator if you don't want to break out the paper and pencil.
BMR Calculator

So, my BMR is 1,899. I would burn 1,899 calories a day if I did nothing but stay in bed. Unfortunately I don't get to do that so to figure out about how many calories a day my body actually needs I have to multiply my BMR by some kind of activity factor between 1.2 (you're a lazy bastard that does nothing) and 1.9 (you're not reading this blog because you're training with your buddy Lance Armstrong).

I workout about 3 times a week so I'll go with 1.5 which means that I burn about 2,848 calories a day.

So if I'm happy with my weight then I'll eat 2,848 calories a day, workout 3 times a week and I'll maintain my weight. Of course this is just an estimate. Other factors include what you eat (which we'll cover later), genetics, how hard you exercise, etc...

You want to loose weight then you want to do it by dropping body fat. The safest way to do this and doing it without sacrificing lean muscle is slowly. About 1 pound a week for people that have body fat percentages in the lower teens. The more body fat you have the more weight you'll be able to drop without it being muscle.

Take a scientific approach. Subtract about 200 calories a day from your diet and keep everything else constant. If you've lost more than a pound after a week add some calories back on, if its less then take away some more.

Next in the series: Macronutrients

Monday, December 29, 2008

New Year's Resolution - Loose Weight!

It's almost that time of the year when we all become hypocrites and take on the challenge of some sort of new years resolution. A lot of people may say they are going to quit drinking or smoking, maybe find a new job, or get a job, but I think the most popular one is loose weight!

When over 30% of the population is obese (not just overweight but obese, 63% are over weight) it's no wonder this is such a popular resolution. The problem is that the same lazy, half assed attitude that got people fat is the same thing that's going to keep them that way. But rest assured the Planckster is here to help.

This is part one of a series of blogs I will be writing about nutrition, weight loss, and exercise. Why, because I am planning on loosing some weight too. Part of that goal is research and that is the part I'm going to share with you in the blogs to come.

But another part of the goal I want to talk about here is being specific in what you want and why you want it. First of all the why...there will be many many days, especially at the beginning, that you've had a rough day at work, or the kids were especially bad, or you're just too tired, or some other excuse as to why you can't or don't want to work out or eat right... the reason that you choose for wanting to loose weight or get in better shape has to be better than any reason you can think of for why you wouldn't want to do it on any given day.

Choose a good goal. Don't just say "I want to loose weight this year" or "I want to get in better shape"... What does that mean, and how will you know when you're done? Choose a goal like, "I want to drop 10% body fat by June 1st." This is a good goal because one, it's specific, it's measurable, it's realistic, and it's time bound. Once you select you're goal put together a plan for making it happen. Figure out a diet, an exercise program and schedule, and don't forget to schedule cheat meals and days off.

Next in this series: Basal Metabolic Rate

Monday, December 15, 2008

Weather Men Suck!

When I was in college I took a semester of Meteorology as an elective...I went to class literally just for the tests, the only studying I did was reading the book all the way through as if it were a novel, I made a high B! The underlying principles of meteorology just are not that hard to comprehend. BUT....actually predicting the weather for any given location is extremely hard. The variables involved are temperature, wind speed and direction, barometric pressure, atmospheric pressure, surface composition and reflectivity (concrete, grass, dirt, etc...) , altitude, humidity, cloud cover, spin of the Earth, tilt of the Earth relative to the sun, etc... There are hundreds, maybe even thousands of variables.

I know what your saying..."Plankster, if you know its so difficult to do then why do weather men suck?"

Well, I tell you my fellow blogger! It's their combination of ignorance and arrogance that pisses me off. All of their models have a known degree of error. Why don't they ever pass that on? "Tomorrow is going to be a low between 25 and 31 and a high between 41 and 47." Nooooo, it's always, "Tomorrow is going to be a low of 28 and a high of 44." Cocky jack ass!

Take a look at this:

This is the forecast for Fort Worth for December 16th and 17th. As you can see the high on the 16th is going to be 37 and the low on the 17th is going to be 42. That means that at exactly midnight Tuesday night the temperature will miraculously jump 5 degrees! If they showed the plus/minus that included the error you wouldn't have these stupid issues.

Bottom line Mr. (or Mrs.) Weather have multi-million dollar satellites in orbit, thousands of collection points such as radar stations, weather stations, storm chasers, you have some of the most sophisticated computer modeling software in the world and some of the fastest supercomputers to run it on and you still can't get it exactly right...and that's ok. But don't get on TV in your nice suit and your fake smile and spout statistical maybes as if they're fact. It only takes a little bit of humility to say "it might" instead of "it will" and even sometimes the forbidden "I don't know".

Monday, December 8, 2008

Worthless Knowledge of the Week

The Most Expensive Liquor...EVER!

Ever wonder what the most expensive bottle of whiskey is? If you don't drink then you could probably care less but I do so I'm going to subject you to this quick chunk of worthless knowledge.

I normally drink a 12 year old single malt scotch that averages about $40 a bottle. My wife got me a nice 21 year old about a year ago that was about $150 (and my god, is it smooth) but both of those pale in comparison to a rare collection of Macallan Whisky from 1926. It was aged for 60 years and of course is now sold out but if you can find a bottle it would go for around $38,000. The only place that you can get a sip of this stuff is the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa in Atlantic City, N.J...bring your credit's $3,300 per dram (1/8 of an ounce)!

Interesting side note, if you choose to go all American then the most expensive Tennessee whiskey would be Jack Daniels Single Barrel which you can pick up at most liquor stores for about $40! I'd recommend it...a lot!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Movie Science 101

I'm a man so of course I love a good action flick! Nothing is better than gun slinging, ass kicking, gratuitous sex scene fun that only the likes of a Vin Diesel, Daniel Craig, or pre-Gubernatorial Schwarzenegger can pull off. With the likes of actors that are as skilled as Jackie Chan or Jet Li its hard to believe that action scenes get so over embellished. I can deal with a car blowing up after being shot at with a sling shot by Chuck Norris...because let's face it, Chuck can do anything! But, hasn't any producer ever heard of Newton's 3rd Law?

We've all seen the movies where someone gets shot and flies back 10 feet through a window or a wall or something. A good example is Lethal Weapon when Riggs get thrown through a shop window while getting blown away by a drive by shooting. Luckily he was wearing a vest!

Newton's 3rd Law states that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. So as you sit in your chair reading this blog you have the force of gravity pushing your butt into the chair. Well, guess what...your chair is pushing up on your butt with the equal force of gravity. If it didn't you would break the chair and fall through it. A great example of this is to drop a basketball with it spinning. When it hits the ground it bounces back up and spins in the opposite direction because the ground pushes back in an opposite direction to the spin and the direction of fall.

Anyway, all this means that any gun that would propel the victim through a window would do the same for the person doing the shooting it because of the opposite force! Anyone who has ever shot a gun knows that you don't normally get thrown back when shooting it. Even a 12 gauge shotgun will only hurt your shoulder, it doesn't knock you on your ass. Now couple that with the fact that a riffle or pistol bullet will go through the body like a hot knife through butter meaning that it won't impart hardly any force on the person. So with all due respect to John Woo your movies aren't very realistic, but they're fun to watch!

Friday, November 21, 2008

HO, Ho, oh....F**K IT!!!

Thousands of years before the birth of Christ people around the world celebrated the winter solstice. This is usually around December 22nd and is the day of the year with the least amount of sun light. From the summer solstice to to the winter solstice the day time gets shorter then after that the amount of day light in a day increases. It was celebrated because the worst of winter was behind them. They would generally slaughter their cows to keep from having to feed them from decreasing food stores and most of the wine and beer made in the summer was finally fermenting. Hence the winter solstice became a wild Marti Gras like party with drinking and feasting!

In Rome, where the winters were not as harsh it became a time of social turn around. Slaves and peasants would rule, going to the homes of the rich and demanding their finest food and drink and if they were refused,... well then there was serious mischief to follow! This piece of Christmas actually lasted until late in the 1800's until the rich began to grow tired of it. Christmas in America wasn't celebrated from 1659-1681 and was actually outlawed in Boston. In fact Christmas wasn't even declared a federal holiday until 1870.

Christmas is about the birth of Christ right...
I suppose it can be if you believe in that sort of thing. Fact is that the new and emerging Christian religion wanted to celebrate the birth of Christ but unfortunately the bible did not provide a date. In order to capitalize on the success of other pagan holidays surrounding the winter solstice, namely the Roman holiday Saturnalia (celebration of Saturn, the god of agriculture), Pope Julius I choose December 25th as the official birthday of Jesus.

The Christmas as we know it didn't really start to come into focus until the 19th century and was heavily influenced by books like Washington Irving's "The Sketchbook of Geoffrey Crayon, gent" and Charles Dickens, "A Christmas Carol". It was works like these that transformed Christmas in America into a family holiday when families could go crazy giving gifts to their children without looking like they were spoiling them.

Once it was decided that gift giving would be part of the holidays then it didn't take long for corporate American to capitalize on the idea. Billions of dollars in advertising and marketing campaigns are spent each year during this time to ensure that you buy the best, most popular, whatever for little Timmy. Of course you can't forget that Tiffany diamond necklace for the wife and .... sorry, I digress!

Anyway, hope you enjoy your holiday season and that you learned something new but remember...if you see the Planckster in the mall growing agitated at the crowds, long lines and whiny kids...steer clear...I hate Christmas and I'm probably packing heat!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Worthless Knowledge of the Week

The Universe is Shrinking!

Thousands of years ago I am sure that cavemen sat around a fire outside their cave and looked up to the bright pin pricks of light that dotted the sky and wondered what they were. I picture them making up stories, tall tales of the Saber Tooth they slayed that was “this big”. I’m sure that they were able to tell time and direction by the stars to get from cave to cave. Now fast forward to today. We rarely look up to see the stars anymore, of course maybe because there’s not much to look at. There so much light coming from the cities that last night I counted more planes in the sky than stars but none the less, our understanding of what these sparkling diamonds of the sky are has exponentially increased. So after thousands of years of asking why we are finally at a point where technology is helping us find answers and the universe does not seem as big as it used to be.

Case in point… There are nearly 7 Billion people on the planet right now and a few in orbit but outside of that there is no one…nothing but a few organic compounds floating around on comets (at least that we know of). Up until recently we only new of 8 planets and a few dwarf planets that circled our sun now we have discovered almost 400 planets orbiting nearby starts. The few we were actually able to see! The below infrared image shows 3 planets orbiting Fomalhaut, a star roughly sun-like that is about 25 light years away. The star has been artificially blotted out so that the planets could be found.

Now these planets are several times the size of Jupiter and orbit further out than Neptune orbits our sun but you can now imagine that within the next decade we will be looking at planets the size of Earth and withing our life time we should be able to see details such as oceans and continents if they exist. It makes you really wonder how much longer we'll have this universe to ourselves. Even if we just find bacteria on other planets then it means that life on Earth is not all that special and if we ever discover intelligent life then it will definitely through all of our perceptions about ourselves and our beliefs into the air.

What will it say about beliefs in god that there are other planets with life on them out there, how will it change religion? What will it say about the petty differences that we think separate us from those in other countries? If that life is more advanced than we are then how embarrassing will it be for us to let them to see how we treat each other and what we've done to our planet. Even worse, what if they are not advanced as we are, how will we treat them? From the Egyptians using slave labor to construct the pyramids to the Conquistadors that inadvertently nearly wiped out an entire culture, to American slave traders and Indian hunters...will we have learned from our past mistakes? I guess the good news is that space is a big place and we have time. Even if we were able to image an Earth-like planet tomorrow that had signs of intelligent life it would probably take at least 25 years to get a message to them and another 25 years to get a response, so we have time. Time to answer those questions before we have to, time to grow, time to learn from our mistakes and correct the wrongs that we've made.

The Visible Universe...those blobs of light are not stars, not even galaxies, they are galaxy clusters!

The universe is a big place but so was Earth once...