Two thousand three hundred and six-one (2,361). My long ride today covered 48 miles and 2,500 feet of climbing in just over three hours. Because I want you to think I’m fast, I’ll give you my excuse out now – there was a good head wind on my trip home. But really, I am amazed that I burned 2,361 calories today. An average male burns between 2,000 and 2,500 calories a day depending on his size and weight. I’m smaller than average, so I’ve burned at least a day’s worth of calories on today’s ride. Just thinking about the freedom offered by 2,361 calories is exciting. Some quick math tells me that I could eat:
- 59 Girl Scout Thin Mint Cookies
- 220 Sweet Maui Onion Potato Chips
- 3½ Double-Doubles at In-and-Out burgers (with grilled onions and cheese)
A couple years ago, I entered a cycling event covering 100 miles along the central California coast. In the back of my mind, the sage wisdom of cycling blog sites reminded me to eat frequently replacing the lost calories and avoiding the dreaded bonk. At each rest stop, I feasted on bananas covered with peanut butter, oatmeal cookies, and muffins. At mile 80, the last rest stop offered chocolate fondue, and I partook.
No one ever told me that it was possible to take in too many calories on a bike ride. Between mile 80 and the finish line, gastrointestinal discomfort preached a sermon about overindulgence that I still remember today. The freedom of a calorie deficit is not truly free. The freedom is limited to what my body can absorb while riding a bike.
While today’s ride offers the promise of freedom, I know that consuming calories is not to be abused for the mere pleasure of indulgence, but for a defined purpose. In a cycling event, calories are meant to fuel my ride and propel me to the finish line. In training, calorie deficits should be filled with proper nutrition to prepare and transform my body for my next event.
The Apostle Paul writes to the Galatians (Gal 5:13), “do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love.” Even in the matters of faith, the freedom found in Christ is for a purpose. Freedom invites us to a choice. Is creating a calorie deficit designed for my excessive indulgence, or for my physical transformation?
As I sit with my feet elevated recovering from my ride, I am refueling with a fruit smoothie, not chocolate fondue, because I now understand my choice. I choose to be transformed.