3500 Calories and Trends in Indoor Cycling

Hello! I’m back for my final IDEA World Fitness recap! This one will mainly focus on some controversial topics in indoor cycling today.

Session 1: Revisiting the 3500 Calorie Rule

We’ve all heard this, right? 3500 calories equals a pound. A 3500 pounds deficit in a week= a pound of weight lost over a week. Did you ever wonder where this came from?

The calculation comes from the energy released by burning a certain mass of fat (based on a bomb calorimeter for my science minded friends). Human fat tissue is 87% fat and 13% water, so when water is factored out, we get about 3500 calories.

If this is true, how come when a person cuts calories and loses weight, the weight loss plateaus? There are a few reasons. The first is initially a lot of water weight is lost. At the beginning of weight loss, the body burns lots of glycogen (carbs), which absorbs water. But besides just the original water weight, weight loss also slows for several other reasons:

-Resting metabolic rate decreases. In a calorie deficit, the body adapts and becomes more efficient. Additionally, a lower body mass means a lower calorie need. So what can we do? 1. Reduce calorie deficit slowly so that the body doesn’t adapt as much and 2. Be realistic about weight loss expectations and timeline.

Session 2: Hot Topics in the Saddle

My final session of IDEA was with Amy Dixon, who won fitness instructor of the year at the opening ceremonies. Needless to say I was in good hands! This session focused on several newly emerging trends in the cycling world today, and I’d like to share a few things with you from that!


1. Spinning with lots of resistance on the bike will make your legs big.

There’s a rumor going around the media these days that spin will make your legs bulky. Celebrity trainer Tracy Anderson stated that cycling will make your legs bulky. Why is this not the case? First of all, we don’t have the testosterone necessary to make us bulky (we as in women). Second, spin is cardio, not strength training. To really build muscle mass, you need muscle hypertrophy (an increase in the size of the muscle), which happens when you are pushing as much resistance as you can, and couldn’t do one more rep (like testing your one rep max squat). Are you ever doing that in a spin class? Doing at something at a one rep capacity? Let me break it down. 80 revolutions per minute. 45 minutes. That’s 3600 reps. That will not increase your muscle mass. You may get a temporary muscle pump, caused by an increased blood flow to the muscle working, but that goes away quickly.

2. Upper body strength work on the bike

I will go right out and say it-I don’t believe in. I still go to some classes that do it, which makes me hypocritical, but I don’t believe in. So what did the best fitness instructor of 2015 have to say about it?

Don’t do it! First of all, it’s not something you would do on an outdoor bike, and most spin programs are based on outdoor cycling. Some other reasons?

-Thousands of studies have shown that by doing upper body work on the bike, you reduce the overall power output.

-You can only really focus on one plane of movement.

-You aren’t in the correct position to do these exercises. In addition, because of this it’s not really functional.

-It’s really only shoulders and triceps, not total body.

-It’s overstimulation of the front of the shoulders, which are already worked just being on a bike normally. Most people who spend all day on a computer are in this same position-we really should be focusing on extension to counteract all of this. This can lead to muscle imbalances.

-You can’t continue to get stronger. There’s only so much you can do with 2 lb dumbbells, and after a few weeks you will plateau-and it’s not practical to have bigger, heavier weights on a bike. Therefore, there’s a limit to the strength that can be gained.

The cycling portion of the workout was awesome and high energy, and I left feeling so inspired and grateful. What a fantastic way to end the week.


I refueled with a free sample from the previous day, and put some fresh clothes on before heading to the airport.

I can’t express enough how amazing this conference was. The expo was a lot of fun, the people were awesome and excited and enthusiastic, and I was doing something I loved and care deeply for. I really do feel like I found myself again at the conference, and I’m excited to take what I learned back to my classes. I definitely want to go back next year!



Rest is for the Dead?

Hey guys! I must admit, this post is going to have a much different tone than I initially anticipated. I thought I’d be more or less dead right now, but I actually feel great. Last night, I got the least amount of sleep I’ve ever gotten since coming to college, and maybe since ever. My day was crazy busy so I was up super late doing a lab report. At least super late by my standards-I will never pull an all nighter! I got a whole 3 hours of sleep. The good news? At this point my week is more or less over so I can just sleep. For the record, I attribute my current energy level not to my new eating habits but rather to a miracle. But I’ll definitely talk about the eating habits as well!

Last night I went to weight lifting, but since my knee isn’t 100%, I couldn’t go into nearly full squats. Apparently to going into full squats puts a ton of strain on your hamstrings because mine are smoked today!

Let’s first go over Wednesday’s food. Wednesdays are traditionally where my healthy eating breaks down, and my habits did see some changes.


Pre-run energy bites. Slightly bland, but super convenient and do the job perfectly! I checked out the macronutrient distribution, and it was just where I wanted it for pre-workout.


Overnight oats made with plain yogurt and milk, chia seeds, coconut, and extra thick rolled oats. This was super thick! And I may have been a little heavy handed on the vanilla…topped with berry compote! Which we desperately need to make more of…


Plus an orange.


Same old, same old for lunch, but I don’t seem to get tired of it! Although I’m thinking of mixing it up next week…quinoa fried rice? Also, Christine’s Garlic Balsamic Brussels Sprouts are one of my favorite things ever.

After class yesterday, I stocked up on bananas. This was the best sight ever.


Yesterday was a little weird because I had literally zero time for dinner, so I had several snacks.


A beautiful blood orange, banana with sunflower seed butter and unsweetened chocolate, plus some seaweed salad. The seaweed salad probably had a little sugar in it-that was definitely not the best judgement on my part, but I’m still alive. Dried mango. The bowl of yogurt, bananas, and sunflower seed butter was after a sorority event that ended late-I was starving! At the event, I faced my first real temptation-homemade cookies and toppings.


Here’s “dinner” after weights, eating while racing between events: a cold turkey burger.


These burgers are THAT good that I eat them cold, in a plastic bag, and still love them.

One thing about eating real foods is that all the thought has been taken out of it-I just listen to my body without even thinking. Yesterday, I had quite a few different snacks throughout the day, but I didn’t think twice about them and just ate what I was craving, and it did the job perfectly. When I was up really late doing work, it didn’t even occur to me to eat food to help me stay up, which is something I definitely would have done in the past.

This morning, coffee was absolutely necessary. I actually woke up for spin this morning. Whether or not that was a good decision, I don’t know. My 3am logic isn’t always sound, but 45 minutes didn’t seem like it would make that much of a difference sleep wise, but spin would definitely energize me and help me wake up.


This was by far the best one in a long time!

One thing about food prep-it makes things so easy when you’re a zombie. Leftover overnight oats and berries were just sitting waiting for me.


I’m to sure what it is about Tuesdays and Thursdays, but for some reason despite the fact I have earlier and more class, I’m much more awake. I knew I’d probably be ok in Nutrition, and if I made it through Chem I’d be ok because I’d be active and moving around in lab in the afternoon. I was surprisingly fine in chem-I think it helps to have someone to sit next to and crack jokes with to keep me awake!

Here was lunch-cumin roasted cauliflower was the veggie of the day!

I’ll write up the rest of my food a little later, but I want to talk about some things I’ve been noticing.

It’s been less than 4 days. But I’m seeing changes. Real, noticeable changes. I look leaner and healthier, and it’s not my imagination-my barista even noticed! I think a lot of this has to do with cutting out sugar-my body isn’t holding on to so much junk. I’ve been feeling great-I haven’t had a single stomachache, something that seemed to happen everyday (which I always thought was sugar related).

I feel enlightened. And I’m so happy I have a blog to share this with the world. It’s been 4 days. FOUR DAYS. That’s it! And yet, I look at 4 days ago Aurora and feel like I’m looking at a different person-I feel like my metabolism was so screwed up. And that was me-a relatively healthy American. Our whole country’s metabolisms are messed up! And I believe that now more than ever. Eating has just been so easy for me these past few days. I eat when I’m hungry, I eat what I crave, which is whole foods. I had some baby sugar cravings after the 2 pieces of mango, but nothing serious. It’s just so amazing to me.

One difference between this project and other dietary changes I’ve tried to make in the past is that I don’t feel restricted. I’ve tried both Paleo and Whole30, and I really missed certain foods with that. Now? I love the food I’m eating! I can eat whatever I want and feel great! It’s wonderful!



(Just taken selfie-do I look different?? Haha)

While I feel amazing now and I want to help everyone in the country realize this, I understand something else. Over the last year, my eating habits slipped a bit, but now I’m finally starting to feel like myself again. I thought-“this is amazing, I wish I had done this months ago!”

But here’s the thing. Months ago, I wasn’t ready. To completely overhaul your diet, to change the way you think, to change the way you express emotions (because who hasn’t celebrated with food?), you have to be ready. And you have to be inspired. This isn’t just about me. This is about proving that for optimal health, you just need to eat real food, no crazy diets. And that anyone can do it. I mean heck, I’m in college, with limited time and limited kitchen access, as well as temptations around every corner. But I’m doing it, and I’m feeling great, and I’m changing, both in body and mind. And that’s just after 4 days.

I’ve said it before-I feel enlightened. I feel like I understand cravings and metabolism and the problems with our country much better now. (But there’s also the possibility that I’m sleep deprived and delirious…) Food has always been a struggle for me-this is unhealthy, this tastes like cardboard but is good for me, this is unhealthy but I’m going to eat it anyways, even though it’s not that great and I’m not hungry. Sound familiar? I’m realizing how many places in my life I would have normally reached for something sweet, but now I just don’t. And I’m still alive. I don’t miss it-although I’m excited for my one dessert this weekend! Food is just so easy. No stress. No anxiety. I just eat. And my food is delicious and I enjoy it-but that’s that-no guilt, no gross feelings, no seconds/third/fourths, no afterthoughts.

And that’s how it should be.

I wish I could properly express to the world how night and day I’ve felt. I want to get the blood sugar tests done this weekend as well so I have some harder facts than the rainbows and butterflies I’m currently spurting out my mouth.

I wish this project could inspire people to try what I’m doing-cutting the fake processed junk out. Now more than ever I believe this is the problem and the root of the obesity epidemic. I just wish I could make people see.