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Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Calories Count!

Okay, so I have a little secret to reveal this post. Are you ready? If you want to lose weight, you have to burn more calories than you eat. No. Seriously! You didn't know?

Honestly, though, there really aren't any shortcuts besides cutting calories and increasing activity. And, putting it back into the perspective of being healthy and active and able to ENJOY YOUR LIFE TO THE FULLEST, doesn't it just make sense? Remember how you feel when you eat too much? Think Thanksgiving. What does everyone do after dinner? Sleep! Yeah, no energy to go and do and create memories beyond the turkey and pumpkin pie! That's FABULOUS a few times a year, but every day? Well, you may not be eating Thanksgiving dinner every day, but you may be following the same pattern in your daily living: not eating on a regular basis and then overeating as soon as you get a chance and can stuff everything in sight in your overly anxious face!

Someone told me about a woman who wants very badly to lose weight. She's a veterinarian and is on her feet all day long. So, she decided that she wanted to get surgery done to lose weight. Problem: She found out that she isn't fat enough to qualify for the surgery. Bummer, right? How often do you hear, "I'm sorry, but you are just too thin!"? Know what she did? She started eating milkshakes every break she had, all day long. Know what happened? Well, believe it or not she must have engaged her metabolism because she lost five pounds! Who would have guessed, right?

Well, it makes sense. Our bodies need fuel throughout the day in order to function properly. And really, the only way to make sure it is getting the BEST fuel is to identify what you are getting vs. what you need. I know what you are saying: "Melinda, I am NOT a calorie counter! I don't have time to count calories. I will never BE a calorie counter. It just isn't me." Well, there is something we can work on together because the big secret still stands: Calories out have to exceed calories in; but your body still needs a certain amount of calories to function and run. If you are going to be in control of this, you have to first be aware of it.

I'll write more on how many calories your body needs in order to function in a later post; but for now, here are some simple calculations to help motivate you to get informed and START EATING THE RIGHT KINDS OF CALORIES and BURN THE UNWANTED CALORIES YOU ALREADY STORED.

Number of calories necessary to lose 1 pound of body fat: 3,500
Number of hours of exercise needed to lose 1 pound of body fat: 2 1/2 (more or less)

Now, let's break that down to TODAY:

To lose 1 pound of body fat a week (that's 52 pounds a year - more than most of us need to lose; but still -- perspective), cut 500 calories a day, through food intake and exercise. Divided equally between the two, that means you need to burn 250 calories (about what you would burn running two 10-minute miles a day) and cut out 250 calories (about a bowl of cereal with 1/2 c skim milk and an apple) a day.

If you're pregnant, did you know that you just need an extra 300 calories a day? And that is only if you are already eating only the recommended amount of calories for your fitness, age, activity level. If you are already overeating, you don't need extra calories at all when you get pregnant. If you're overweight and pregnant, you actually need to eat less. Again, we're talking about an extra apple with peanut butter, a bowl of cereal and two apples, 1/2 cup cottage cheese and a banana, etc. If you watch yourself now and don't go overboard, you'll reap the rewards later and have a healthier, easier, happier pregnancy and delivery.

If you are breastfeeding, you need to eat 1800 calories a day. That will be enough to give you an adequate milk supply. And they say the average woman burns 500 calories a day breastfeeding (I didn't, I don't think -- but I'm apparently not average!). I have also read that if you ARE breastfeeding, you really shouldn't lose more than about 1 pound a week in order to keep your milk supply. So - there are some guidelines for us, no matter our category.

There -- now on a day-to-day basis, that doesn't look so bad, does it? Why is it so hard? Well, we miscalculate what we are eating or aren't aware of what we are eating and cannot, therefore, make those few tiny cuts on a daily basis to reach our goals. So - now we know what lies ahead on our journey to success!

Start watching how many calories are in your favorite, daily foods. Just for fun, keep track one day and see where you honestly are in an average day.

Remember: Slow and Steady Wins the Race!

2 comments:

Bryninn and Alise

I've started using sparkpeople.com to track my calories, both in what I eat and when I exercise. It's free and easy, but you just have to remember to log everything in! I was really underestimating how much I was eating, so this was a real eye-opener. I'm sure I'll be able to estimate better on my own once I use their tools for a while.

Mommy #1

That's a GREAT idea! I think most of us would be surprised by how much we ACTUALLY eat vs. what we THINK we are eating. Later on, I'm actually going to talk about tracking; so this is a good resource to know about. THANKS!!!

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