There are very few things you can get for free. There is a cost associated with pretty much anything of value. There is a cost to owning a vehicle even if someone gives you a car free and clear. If you want a new shirt, there is a cost you will have to pay. If you want to succeed in business, there is also a cost.
When my husband was a teenager, he knew exactly what a date would cost him. I’m not talking about dollar signs. I’m actually talking about hard work. Other kids might have just gotten some money from their parents, but Steve had to work for his date money.
He knew exactly how many hours he’d have to work to take a girl out on a date when he was making the minimum wage. It could cost him eight hours of flipping burgers at Burger King for $3.35 an hour if he wanted to take a girl to a cheap dinner and a movie. That’s a lot of work for one date.
Have you ever thought about what your food costs?
There is a cost for every bite you eat. Not only is there a price you pay at the grocery store or restaurant, each calorie costs a certain amount of energy to burn off. If you decide not to burn it off, there is an even higher cost of carrying the extra calories around as stored fat.
If you think of calories like dollar bills, you can look at your body like it’s a bank account. Similar to a bank balance, your body’s “balance” is the balance of calories going in and calories going out.
If you look at your body like a bank account, you will look at food a bit differently too. Every time you want a treat, it will cost you (exercise) if you don’t want to carry an excess balance.
It’s like buying a shirt. You really can’t say whether that shirt is worth the money until you look at the price tag. Once you compare the price tag with your financial situation, you can then make a pretty good decision about whether you can afford that item.
In the same way, you should get in the habit of looking at food labels to determine if something is within your budget. Just like Steve would figure out how many hours he’d have to work for a date to determine if she was worth it, you also need to know how much exercise is required to afford certain foods.
That’s impossible to do unless you fully understand what exercise costs. One way you can determine the cost is by wearing a heart rate monitor to get a more accurate idea of how many calories you burn when you work out. If you don’t have a heart rate monitor, you can use this list of exercises to get an idea of how many calories a 155-pound person burns doing a variety of exercises for one hour.
Using this list as a reference, now let’s look at what some of my favorite guilty pleasures would “cost” me.
- Chili’s Smoked Chicken Quesadillas = 1735 calories
- Five Guys Little Cheeseburger and a half order of fries = 1026 calories
- Carrabba’s Linguine Positano with house salad (no bread) = 1098 calories
- California Kitchen Veggie Pizza = 1070 calories
If you do the math, you will see that the quesadillas would cost almost five hours of walking at 4.0 mph to erase. All the other menu items would require at least two hours of pretty intense training, like calisthenics, to bring you back to zero. And if your exercise were a moderate walk, you would have to walk nearly 13 miles to work off one meal.
Maybe it’s worth it or maybe it’s not. Either way, you are sure to make much better decisions when weighing the cost.