The Physics of Dieting!

17 Nov

I am sure I have mentioned before in these postings that the name I write under is doubly inaccurate!

Most of my readership is aware that my given name is not Alfie and a vast majority of them know what it really is. Those who know me personally are also aware that the adjective “Little” is not one that applies to me in many ways.

Makes me wonder why I bother with a pseudonym, now I come to think of it!

 Anyway having been, in my youth, somewhat on the lanky and skinny side I was appalled to find out last spring that I tipped, or rather BENT, the scales at a massive  – well I won’t frighten you with the numbers but they were far too high whether expressed in stones, pounds or kilograms!

However you measure it, it represents WAY too much Alfie and steps obviously had to be taken to reduce me.

It seems that you CAN have too much of a good thing!

Pressure was brought to bear (believe me, those Vulcan nerve pinches really HURT!) and despite all of my objections, whining , grizzling and petulant foot-stamping I was eventually dragged kicking and screaming by my wife to the local “Weight-watchers” meeting at a nearby community hall.

Faith had been there before (I don’t know why, there’s hardly an ounce of fat on her!)  but my expectation was that I would be the only man in a roomful of fat women  – and so it turned out. Fortunately, the only way she had been able to get me to go at all had been by promising me that we would be going for the “weigh-in” only and most emphatically NOT staying for the meeting/lecture part that follows.

I did see a bit of one of these meetings once and it seemed to be more about blaming your circumstances for your size than confessing your eating “sins”.  I expected something more along the lines of what meetings of Alcoholics Anonymous are portrayed as.

“Hi, I’m Alfie and I’m a gluttonous fat bastard!”

NOT, you will note, “Hi, I’m Alfie and I’m a ‘foodoholic’!” That’s because that word and its counterparts from other areas such as “workaholic” and “chocoholic” always make me cringe! I did both Chemistry for 3 years at school and Physics for 5 years and have picked up a lot of additional knowledge in those areas over the years. And I am absolutely certain that NOWHERE in today’s advanced knowledge of those disciplines do substances called “workahol”, “chocohol” or “foodohol” exist. Unlike Alcohol.

Sorry! Rant over!

So, back to the story and since May 2010 I have been trotting  (or at least walking briskly  – it never hurts to burn a few more calories at the last minute) the mile or so from my house to what I disparagingly refer to as “Fat Club” every, or nearly every, Wednesday evening.

At first I was accompanied on these walks by my dear wife but lately she has been sending me on my own! This is ostensibly to save money – yes you have to PAY for the privilege of being “tutted” at by the lady operating the scales – as she maintains that she can weigh herself perfectly well at home and we don’t need two copies of the “helpful hints” literature that is dished out each week.

I, on the other hand, am apparently NOT capable of weighing myself at home and  DO need the “encouragement” given by regular, ritual humiliation!

The early weeks of my attendance were quite successful –  in two months I had shed 18 pounds (approx. 8 Kg ) but there I seem to have stuck!

Incidentally, while it occurs to me, can someone tell me why it is that when the Euro suffers problems (as it did in Greece and is currently doing in Ireland) its attendant evils, the Kilogram, the Hectare, the Litre and the Kilometre don’t collapse as well?

I’m not sure but I think it might benefit my weight loss if the Kilogram was devalued against the Pound and a similar adjustment of Kilometre versus Mile could make the walk to the “weigh-in” shorter! Or maybe not.

But back to my topic title which is “The Physics of Dieting” in case you’d forgotten!

I was brought up to believe in God, the infallibility of the Royal family and the unchanging Laws of Physics (as in “Ye canna change the laws of physics, Captain!”). I quickly learned that the first two were very illogical, not to say silly, things to believe in but the Laws of Physics continued to prevent me from wafting away into space or falling through my sofa and thus remained with me.

Unfortunately though it appears that said Laws DO NOT apply to dieting!

How else can you account for the observed and measured fact that only seconds after eating a packet of potato crisps (“potato chips” in the USA) weighing 25 grams (1 ounce is 28 grams) my weight goes up by almost half a pound!

Nor does ridding myself of what I shall delicately call “waste material” help! It appears that even though the substance has left me, the mass it had somehow (and impossibly so by all the physical rules that I’m aware of) remains.

And I have to say I’m not the only one to notice this. I was watching an episode of the excellent (if somewhat pretentious) “QI”  on TV last week and the comedian Johnny Vegas came up with the same  question.

He put it slightly less delicately as “ Why doesn’t your weight go down if you weigh yourself immediately before and after taking a big dump?”

I don’t normally appreciate Mr Vegas’ humour that much but thought that he had raised a very valid question. His fellow panellists, however, dismissed it rather flippantly by advising him not to take said “big dump” on the scales!

So, can anyone out there advise me as to WHEN the Laws of Physics were revised specifically with regard to diets and WHAT exactly those new rules are?

Over to you.



Posted by on November 17, 2010 in Uncategorized


3 responses to “The Physics of Dieting!

  1. theworldaccordingtomorpheus

    November 17, 2010 at 7:50 pm

    My scales have an inch of DUST on them these days – almost as deep as the layer on my rowing machine (though when The Flood comes, I’ll have the last laugh) so don’t expect a sensible answer from ME!

    One thought though – would chocolate liquers count as “chocohols”?

  2. sumpnado

    November 20, 2010 at 12:43 pm

    This is very pleasing. I am always happy when it turns out that I am not alone in a quandary. However, it is most likely that the scales are not sensitive enough and in any case the ejected material has (surprisingly) insufficient mass to register. I bet Shakespeare mentioned this is one of his plays.

  3. littlealfie

    November 20, 2010 at 8:15 pm

    Perhaps a reference to “straining” and the quality of something or other?



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