Losing Weight With Virtual Memory

It occurred to me tonight that your body is akin to the OS-level virtual memory system with respect to weight and metabolism. Its like this:

Virtual memory is necessitated by the assumption that you won’t have enough near capacity (RAM) for all of your data and so you will need to cache some of the “extra capacity”. This “extra” can be retrieved when needed at a later point in time.

Your body goes through a similar process every time you eat. Your metabolic rate establishes the near capacity, which is your ability to utilize the calories you are consuming immediately (or relatively so). The excess, which is not required currently by your body (according to your metabolism) is cached in fat cells so that it can be used later in times of need.

This would seem to yield a pretty basic byrule for losing weight: make sure that your intake in calories is less than your metabolic rate’s threshold for storing extra calories as fat. It would also seem to indicate that the ratio at which you can keep your intake below your metabolic threshold will be the same rate at which you lose weight. It would also work the other way, in that the rate at which you exceed the metabolic threshold will be the rate at which you gain weight.

I’m sure that this is a pretty gross generalization of what goes on in the body and may be missing some key parts, but I think this is basically true and that this has some implications for the exercise-to-lose-weight culture that we promote in the US today. Not that exercise is bad or useless, because its not. But a lot of people simultaneously feel bad about their weight and the fact that they can’t find the time to get to the gym with enough regularity to affect a real weight change. Couple those with inconsistent or no changes in diet and you’ve got a recipe for anxiety and maybe depression.

I do, however, recognize that for a lot of these same people it will be very hard to change their diet (with myself at the front of that queue). I think, though, that you just have to want it bad enough to put up with the initial hunger and feeling even worse than normal for a little while in order to feel much better for a long time. Though I do wonder if its easier to keep track of those calories once you get past the initial discomfort and its no longer a pressing, in-your-face issue any longer.