Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Is it Really As Easy as 2+2?

I was reading a book the other night by one of today’s top fitness gurus and she says that losing weight basically comes down to math. A pound is the equivalent to 3500 calories. To lose a pound, we have to eliminate those 3500 calories somehow – either through food choices or through exercise. It’s that simple.

Or, well, not quite that simple. She also said we have to know what our daily base caloric rate is –how many calories we burn a day just by existing. Here’s the formula to figure that out:

655 + (4.3 x weight in lbs.) + (4.7 x height in inches) – (4.7 x age in years)

The last step is to factor in your activity level.

Sedentary – Multiply your result by 1.1
Lightly Active – Multiply your result by 1.2
Moderately Active – Multiply you result by 1.3
Very active – Multiply your result by 1.4

And that is your base caloric rate.

Keeping in mind that its not recommended that you consume less than 1200 calories a day, you can break your goals down with math.

Say your base caloric rate is 1700. You can diet down to 1200, cutting 500 calories a day (500 x 7 days in the week is 3500 – yay!!) to lose one pound a week. Want to lose two pounds a week? You’ll have to burn that other 3500 calories off in exercise!

What do you think? Is weight loss really just about the numbers?


Michelle Butler on November 19, 2009 at 11:49 AM said...

Obviously, the numbers are important, but I do sometimes think there is more mystery to it than just 2 + 2 = 4. For example, this past week I lost 4 pounds. The week before, I lost .2 of a pound, and the week before that I lost (or gained) nothing - stayed the same. I can not say my behavior - my calories in and my calories out were very different those three weeks. I know that a woman's cycle can have great impact on her weekly weight loss.

Beyond that, I do think that sometimes the body is "ready" to let go of weight and sometimes it is not. I also think emotions and stress can play a big role. If you are 100% stressed out, your body may not want to let go of the weight - even if the numbers say it should.

To me, the key is to have patience and be persistent. Keep up the good habits week by week and eventually you'll be rewarded. This philosophy does assume that you are being completely honest about how much you are really eating and how much you are really exercising.

Trish Milburn (Tricia Mills) on November 19, 2009 at 2:28 PM said...

I think you're right, Michelle. Sometimes the weight loss makes sense, and sometimes it's a mystery.

Michelle Butler on November 19, 2009 at 3:10 PM said...

Believing this helps me keep going. I really do try to walk into my weigh in at WW with 0 expectations - so I'm ok with a loss or ok with a gain. Be "zen like" so that either way I'll keep at it. Obviously, I'm happy when I lose big and I do have to combat very negative feelings when I gain - I just have to make sure I don't let those feelings change my healthy behavior. Sometimes when you lose big, you can start thinking - I've got this - it's easy - and then you're not as vigilant with being aware of what you are eating. A gain can make you start thinking it's hopeless and why even try. The 0 expectations/zen like approach can prepare you so that you don't have a strong reaction and let that make you do something stupid. You know what works. Just keep working at it and doing it and eventually it pays off.

With this philosophy, I just have to be vigilant to ensure that I'm NOT lying to myself about how much I've eaten and exercised. That's where being 100% honest in tracking/ keeping a food diary helps.

Tawny on November 19, 2009 at 6:17 PM said...

Michelle, I think you're spot on. I was intrigued by the simplicity of the numbers angle -but at the same time I know that its not the whole picture. If I stress, I gain weight, regardless of my caloric intake/output. Its hormonal.

But I kinda like the idea of tracking numbers and feeling like I have some gauge -however faulty - of possible progress LOL

But like you say, its really all about the commitment and the zen. Keep going, work it hard and be detached from the results.

Michelle Butler on November 19, 2009 at 7:50 PM said...

Tawny - my weight watchers leader keeps saying if you track honestly, you should walk into the meeting knowing if you have lost or gained. I do appreciate how this shows the importance of tracking (keeping an honest food and activity/exercise diary).

Tawny on November 19, 2009 at 10:30 PM said...

I agree- lying to ourselves, underestimating calories, etc -thats not hurting anyone but us and just adds to the frustration if we don't see progress.

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