Heat engine

There is less me in the world than there was the last time I blogged.

I’ve been trying to lose weight for a while now. Last year I tried, based on gym membership and generally trying to eat less, but too little avail and somehow wound up heavier towards the end than at the beginning of the year. My own fault: deep down I know what works for me but put off doing it because of…well I guess not being ready. As I documented here I have overcome that obstacle by getting myself a fold up and integrating rides into my daily commute. Combined with watching my calorie intake based on some simple equations around BMR I am now seeing results.

There’s a lot of nonsense talked about weight loss. A great deal of pseudo science. What I’ve noticed in trying to do this, and reading a lot around it, is that it basically comes down to energy in versus energy out.

It reminded me of an interview I listened to with Brian Cox in which he discussed why if he believed in life after death* he would have to rethink how fridges work. His point was that the human body is basically a heat engine that conforms to the same physical rules that hold the universe together, some of which are quite well known like thermodynamics. Now, I don’t necessarily think all of those laws are understood or indeed that those that do sufficiently describe the human condition or the relative experience of reality for this to be a logical counter argument to either religion or belief in life after death but you shouldn’t ask a physicist for those kind of answers**. You need a hybrid scientist/philosopher to have any hope there and working across neuroscience, physics, biology, chemistry and probably quantum physics. I digress.

You see what I notice in controlling my calories, and trying to move more, is that my body really is a highly evolved heat engine. Slight changes in either part of that equation produces changes in how my overall body behaves: too little and everything starts to slow down; too much and my body starts to hoard for a fast that in my privileged Western world is not coming. Most weird of all is just how predictable it is once you plug the numbers in and stick to them. I am a typical heat engine it seems.

As to why I am doing any of this? It might be said it’s my forthcoming nuptials but truthfully I think it’s more about making sure the engine works as long as possible. After all, no machine lasts forever.

* It might have been god or religion. I am paraphrasing based on memory.
** I say this as a card carrying Atheist. There’s a lot of bad arguments made by scientists including Dawkins, and they don’t do us any favours however well intentioned.

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