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Thursday, October 15, 2015

Burning Calories Without Breaking a Sweat

The weight I'd love to be again, not the weight I actually am.  Photo editing is fantastic!

For many years I didn't have to think much about calories consumed or calories burned.  Throughout my twenties, I taught aerobics and yoga classes, hiked and played tennis, rollerbladed and rode my bike, lifted weights and played with my eldest daughter.  In my thirties, I was either nursing a baby or chasing after toddlers and preschoolers.  Even in my early forties, farm and homesteading tasks kept me constantly on the move, and I ate whatever I wanted without noticing a difference on the scale.  However, over the past few years as I have been inching closer and closer to the Big 50, that has changed.  The numbers on the scale have steadily climbed, as have the inches around my middle, and the size on the tags of my clothes.  I have had to face the difficult fact that I can no longer eat as many desserts as I like and spend hours a day on the sofa reading a book without consequences.  With the holidays coming soon---and typically with them a 4-5 pound weight gain for me---I have decided to make a conscious effort to not allow those numbers on the scale to creep up any higher.  I am a realist, though, and I know that I will probably never see the above numbers on my scale again without the use of photo editing on my laptop.

Climbing stairs: 95 cal./10 min.

Like most of you, I have to wear many different hats in the day, and I don't have time for a grueling hour-long workout, followed by a shower and a change of clothes and drying my hair and re-applying moisturizer, sunscreen, and makeup.  After doing some research, I was thrilled to see that much of what I do in a day burns quite a few calories without me even thinking about it or breaking a sweat.  For example, climbing stairs for 10 minutes burns 95 calories.  I have to climb a flight and a half just to use the bathroom in this old farmhouse.  Every time I do laundry, I climb 2.5 flights.  To put away most of our groceries, I have to go down and up a flight of stairs since our kitchen has so little storage space.

Laundry: 63 cal/30 min.

Speaking of laundry, I do two or three loads of it almost every single day, and our clothes hampers are still never, ever empty.  Doing laundry burns 63 calories in 30 minutes.  If you hang laundry on the clothesline or drying racks like I do, that burns 50 calories in 15 minutes.  There was a brief period of time several years ago when both of our washing machines broke, and I washed and rung out the laundry in our bathtub by hand for over two weeks.  I wonder how many calories that burns?

Scrubbing the tub: 85 cal./15 min.

This is the only time that I am glad to have just one full bathroom.  Scrubbing a bathtub is one of my least favorite chores, but it burns 85 calories in 15 minutes.  By the way, I found this shower curtain on clearance at Kohl's.  They also had the coolest rustic curtains with moose and pine trees that I'd like to get for our cabin once we finally get a new shower installed.

Vacuuming: 90 cal./30 min.

You wouldn't think I would have to do much vacuuming in a house with wood floors and no rugs or carpets, but that is not the case.  Nothing else sucks up the dust bunnies and crumbs stuck between the wide plank floor boards like a vacuum cleaner.  Each room in our house takes about 15 minutes to vacuum, and it burns 90 calories in 30 minutes.

Weeding: 115 cal./30 min.

We have weeds from May through October, so if I'm willing to deal with the pesky gnats and mosquitoes, I can burn 115 calories in 30 minutes when I'm out there weeding the gardens and flower beds.

Dusting: 50 cal./30 min.

I'm not sure if other old farmhouses are incredibly dusty or if our family just creates more of it than the average household, but we have more dust than I can keep up with.  I have used feather dusters, lambs wool dusters (like in the photo), dry swiffers, wet swiffers, microfiber cloths, old cloth diapers, and every other dust-fighting product I can find, and we still have dust everywhere.  Dusting burns 50 calories in 30 minutes, but it must burn more if you're having to climb up on ladders to reach the tops of cupboards, celing fans, and bookshelves.

Cooking: 150 cal./1 hour

I don't spend as much time in the kitchen preparing food as I used to, but I still spend a significant amount of time cooking, and it burns 150 calories in an hour.  You would think I'd be as svelte as Jennifer Aniston by now, but I apparently sample enough of the food to balance out any calories used while cooking and baking.  I've got to stop licking the cake beaters and tasting the raw cookie dough.

Washing dishes: 64 cal./30 min.

As I've mentioned before, there is no dishwasher in this old house other than the occupants.  Even with each child assigned a "dish night," I still have to wash breakfast and lunch dishes every day.  This chore burns 64 calories in 30 minutes.

Decorating: 54 cal./10 min.

Did you know that decorating burns 54 calories in 10 minutes?  How awesome is that?  This has got to be one of the better domestic activities I do.  Just think how much pumpkin pie we burn as we decorate our houses for Christmas!

Strength training: 63 cal./18 min.

So there are a few things I do that burn calories that are considered "real" exercise.  I try to get some strength training in two or three days a week, using elastic tubing, 5 pound dumbbells, and my own body weight.  I burn approximately 63 calories in 18 minutes, which is about how long it takes me to work every major muscle group doing 10 repetitions for each exercise and then repeating with another set.

Yoga: 26 cal./10 min.

The type of yoga I do now is very light yoga---stretching, really.  I can assure you that the more intense forms of yoga that I used to do in my twenties burn many more calories than this.  My body doesn't appreciate enduring those postures any more though, so for light yoga, we burn 26 calories in 10 minutes.  That's the equivalent of burning off one Hershey's Kiss, so I do this more for the stress release and increase in flexibility than for using up calories.  Even though it burns fewer calories, I'd still much rather do some yoga than scrub that bathtub!

Walking the dog: 125 cal./40 min.

For some of you, walking your dog probably means a great workout where you get your heart rate up and maybe even break a sweat.  This is not the case with beagles.  When I walk Tippy, we pause and run, pause and run---over and over again.  Her nose is to the ground practically the entire time.  We stop so she can sniff out an area, then we run to track it.  I haven't timed her, but I would say the stopping occurs every ten or twenty seconds.  This is a very frustrating workout for me, but I figure it still burns 125 calories in a 40 minute "walk."  Plus, it makes her very, very happy; although, she would be ecstatic if I just let her off her leash so she could chase a rabbit, squirrel, or deer all over the mountain for hours.

Hiking: 125 cal./21 min.

Hiking is probably the most strenuous activity I do unless I get out on the tennis courts (which happens about once every three years.)  If I hike up our mountain a mile or two in the middle of summer, I will actually perspire a bit.  Most of the time, I don't hike quite that far, and I am no longer able to hike straight up without stopping frequently to catch my breath and not feel like I am about to have a heart attack.  This is my favorite time of the year to hike in the woods, so I'll be doing more of it over the next few weeks before our weather turns too cold to enjoy.  Hiking burns 125 calories in 21 minutes.

A day teaching covered over 3 miles/6500 steps.

I purchased a pedometer a couple of years ago and wore it one day this week when I was substitute teaching in our children's old elementary school.  I was surprised to discover that I walked over 3 miles and 6500 steps during that day.  That's more than I often cover in a typical day at home, even with a mile walk to the mailbox and back!

It is my plan to engage in all of these activities on a weekly basis and not see the numbers on the scale ascend any higher.  I would love to see them descend, of course, but my husband says that if I hope to look like I did two decades ago, I need to seriously work out several hours a day and greatly change my diet.  Not wanting to do something so drastic, I think I'll see positive results as long as I ...

...Don't spend my days doing this!


...Eat too many things like this!  


  1. GREAT post!!! Maybe I should spend more time on the stairs. Tippy is positively precious!!! Would love to see your run/pause activity. Have a great weekend!


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