I’ll Just Scare the Fat Off of Me

Turns out scaring myself burns calories.

This week I moved into high gear and met with both the metabolic specialist and nutritionist at my work. The findings were very interesting. Besides the things I already knew (I should consume far less sugar and I all but decimated my metabolism at the Ranch) I was informed that I may have a gluten and dairy intolerance—though it could’ve been far worse, like a chocolate and coffee intolerance and then I would’ve just had to jump off a bridge.

I was also told that doing Alpha and yoga (both forms of strength training) isn’t helping me to lose weight. On the contrary while I wrongly assumed yoga was cardio—it is not—I also thought that the harder the workout, the more results I would have. This is also not true. Turns out I burn straight fat when I am walking at a decent clip for an extended period of time.

I didn’t believe it. I had to check and double check with the specialist that he wasn’t messing with me. Simply walking more would give me greater results? The answer was yes. At this stage in the game, that was exactly what I needed more of: cardio, cardio, cardio. Color me delighted, because walking I can do.

I woke this morning having already bid my adieus to cheese and Greek yogurt—my long standing compadres—then gave my regards to bread for added measure. I instead prepared an egg white omelette loaded with spinach and veggies, topped with two slices of turkey bacon and accompanied by blueberries. 

I put on my watch and heart rate monitor to gauge exactly where my heart rate should be, (126 is the magic number, which is apparently when I am burning straight fat) and set out to my beloved battlefields for a long and brisk hike. I parked my car, grabbed my headphones and Nordic walking sticks—because they add oomph to any workout, or so I was led to believe when I spent 75 dollars on them—and hit the trail. 

Immediately upon looking at the surrounding dense forest I remembered how lovely hiking was and wondered why I didn’t do it more often. I happily swung my sticks, walking, listening to Gregory Alan Isakov croon about the moon and checking my heart rate on my watch to locate 126 and stay there.


The trail wove down to a muddy little creek and the forest seemed to get a bit darker. I all of a sudden was spooked and looked over my shoulder and thought, Why, oh why, did I ever watch “The Blair Witch Project“?

I shook it off and resolved that I had an important fat-burning hike to get in and had no time to be scared of the woods. Here’s the thing though: I am scared of the woods. It’s absurd because I adore the woods and am a total tree-hugger, but I have always found it very difficult to go into the forest either alone or at night without being slightly heeb’d out. My mind just goes to one of these three scenarios:

There’s a pack of wolves just over yonder and they will surely devour me. This isn’t unreasonable either as once while hiking in the deep woods of Upper Michigan I did indeed see a wolf. And I got attacked by ticks. So. Yeah. Shit can get real in the woods. Does Virginia even have wolves though? Who knows? OK, Google probably knows. Still, I’m irrationally fearful. 

There is a crazed back-woods serial killer with missing teeth and overalls lurking somewhere waiting to drag me to his lair and make lampshades out of my fair Norwegian skin.  I have no foundation for this fear other than watching one too many horror films. 

There is something otherworldly and sinister, like a ghost or the Mothman watching me from behind a tree. Again, why this notion other than my overactive imagination, but come on, that’s creepy.

I marched on ignoring my inner spazz that was wigging out over every squirrel that whipped past and every ominous tree branch that I mistook for a Civil War soldier ghost. I came upon a large and rolling clearing and breathed a big sigh of relief. And started swinging my walking sticks every which way in a little victory jig that I had survived the woods. I was just about to run across the clearing, all Maria Von Trapp style, with my relief over not being murdered, but I saw someone walking their dog and thought that might be a bit much.  

I walked further and a little later definitely contemplated then definitely did Maria Von Trapp it up and run across another rolling hill in a fit of glee over being out in nature, seeing deer and burning fat.  

By this time I looked down at my watch and saw that I had been hiking/walking/running/Maria Von Trapping for almost an hour. I was pretty far out and didn’t really relish the idea of walking back through the dark and winding forest so I kept going straight ahead thinking I’d take the long way back if it was all open space. Until I realized where I was, which was miles from my car. The long way back would take probably another hour or more, which admittedly I didn’t feel like doing, so I begrudgingly turned around making my way back to clearly haunted forest. 

I was mostly calm and collected trying to keep wolves and soldiers of the undead out of my mind, keeping an eye on my heart rate to stay in fat-burning range when I heard something snap behind me, like a stepped on twig. Now normally anytime I stopped or slowed down while on my hike, my heart rate immediately began to drop. I stopped this time looking over my shoulder, now certain I was being followed by a Civil War ghost and happened to glance at my heart rate, which was now rapidly increasing. 

This made me forget for a moment about the would-be ghost. I was stopped and my heart rate was increasing instead of decreasing! Well isn’t that interesting? I thought. All I have to do is scare myself silly and I won’t even have to leave the house. I could get to fat-burning range just by watching “Ghost Hunters!

Except that I am a big wuss, so scaring myself incessantly would surely lead to a heart attack. I think I’ll just stick with hiking, but maybe I should get a dog just to be safe. Yes, that’s it. I need a dog. 

But for today I made it out of the woods unscathed and having burned 633 calories (200 more than I burned in Alpha yesterday). Don’t underestimate walking is all I’ve got to say. Well that and being utterly convinced you might be murdered, that might’ve added to the calorie burn.