The skinny

Back in April I was reading Steve Tilford’s blog and came across one of his musings on air conditioning/heating and whether or not it caused weight gain. He thought that being hot and sweating burned more calories than sitting under the AC.

It makes sense. So I thought about it as a general proposition. Maybe the solution to trying to stay warm when it’s cold out, or trying to stay cool when it’s hot out, starts with foregoing as much clothing as possible and letting your body do the regulating.

I chucked my hoodies and knit caps and started going around in a t-shirt full time. Of course in Southern California that’s no great feat, since the weather here is pretty much perfect year-round. But if it’s so perfect, why do so many people wear so much warm clothing in the winter? And why do they wilt any time it gets over 90 degrees?

The obvious answer is that no matter how balmy the weather, when you depend on clothing and climate control to make things perfect, anything less than perfect sends you scurrying for a jacket or howling for an air conditioner.

My experiment is about four months in, and I can assure you that it hasn’t caused any weight loss. But what I have noticed, especially during my recent jaunt to Las Vegas, is that my body quickly, almost instantaneously, adjusts to the ambient air temperature. I could go from the frigid casino to the outdoor inferno and acclimate right away. I could re-enter the air-conditioned environs and within a minute or two be sufficiently warm to not even think about putting on a jacket.

The only time during my three days in Vegas that I had to wear a dress shirt and sport coat, I was unbearably hot. I’m not claiming that I could easily walk around in the extreme Vegas heat, either. One day I spent about thirty minutes on the Strip mid-day, and I took a pounding. No natural acclimation in the world will accommodate 110 degrees.

But upon returning to the South Bay in the midst of a horrible heat wave that saw (gasp!) temperatures in the high 90’s, I had no problems at all. It was hot but far from unbearable, or even miserable.

We’ll see how this fares when we hit the frigid winter temps that will certainly dive down into the low 60’s or even high 50’s; brutal stuff. In any event, I’ll save on winter clothes.

END

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25 thoughts on “The skinny”

  1. It would seem that any function the body has to perform is going to require a certain level of calorie burn. And that like any bodily function, the less you use something, the less able that something is going to be able to work. So, similar to the reality, that if you eat foods that are harder to digest, i.e. more if your digestive tract is used to extract nutrients, then it takes calories to do that. Do it makes sense, that your body can use more calories to regulate its temperature, if the environmental conditions are more varied.

    I concur.

  2. Amazing.
    My bike path pal Yuri, who was 84 and seemingly bulletproof, told me his secret to health was to shower in super hot water, then switch to freezing water…back to hot, and so forth.
    He hadn’t been sick in a million years, and if I did the same…
    I’ve yet to try it, and that was 10 years ago…I think I’m gonna stay with the more comfortable ways…
    I do think you’re on to something!…sometimes, to do something great, we have to get uncomfortable.
    NO MORE SHAMMIES!!!

  3. Have you started growing neanderthal body hair and dragging your knuckles?

    Global Warming (and extreme weather) is real.

    I will stick with clothes and air conditioning ……

    1. I think most of the concern is around the Neanderthalian state of my mental faculties and less concerning posture, etc.

      However, with Trumpal warming, AC will not make things cooler …

  4. As a SoCal native, I was one of the weaklings that could barely tolerate a change in temperature. For example, climb Mt. Wilson in the spring, I must bring a jacket, or shiver on the descent like a fragile weakling.

    I go to the UK to race one summer and bring every kind of clothing imaginable. This is before the Internet, so all I have is some weather data from who-knows-where that shows it’s really cold, like 60 degrees sometimes! Somehow, my body sorted itself out while I flailed around being slightly above average..

    I got back and have never had the issue again.

  5. For most of my life I have enthusiastically hiked, run, motorcycled, bicycled and more in all sorts of weather – hot or cold, wet or dry. In addition, I don’t think I’ve ever lived in a home with air conditioning.

    Is this why I comfortably handle wider temperature ranges than my wife? I can’t say for sure if it’s genetic variety or conditioning, but she works in an air conditioned office and blasts the A/C in her car if it’s over 75°.

    I think I’ll keep doing what I’ve been doing!

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