Monday, December 6, 2010

Holiday Weightloss: A How-to Guide

Ha! SO SO SO SO SOOOO not true.
Warning: this is a long one. I'm going to make you think on a Monday.

Okay, so we've been talking (or at least I have) about saying focused on our wellness goals and not gaining the average seven pounds that Americans put on during the holidays.  And you may be sitting looking at your screen saying, "Sounds good Healthy Heather but HOW?  How the heck am I going to do that?!?"  

Well keep your britches on! I'm going to tell you!  You'll need two things:

1. A calculator (yes, there is math)
2. Someplace to accurately log calories.  
I suggest an account on the free food journaling website

In order to lose or maintain weight during the holidays (or any time of year) you need to know what you're working with.  In other words, you need to  determine your Basal Metabolic Rate.  Your BMR is the number of calories your body burns at rest.  That is, if you were to lie in bed all day watching Harry Potter movies back to back all day long, your BMR is the number of calories it would take for your body to keep pushing the remote control past all the parts with Dobby the House Elf in them. That's your base.  To find out what yours is, use this formula.  Keep in mind this is just an estimate!

Women: BMR = 655 + (4.35 x weight in lbs) + (4.7 x height in inches) – (4.7 x age in years)
Men: BMR = 66 + (6.23 x weight in lbs) + (12.7 x height in inches) – (6.8 x age in years)

For example, this is what that looks like for me: 

  • 655 + (4.35 x 140) + (4.7 x 64) – (4.7 x 34)
  • 655 + 609 + 301 – 150 = 1,415 calories burned AT REST

Okay. Now, unless you really do lie in bed watching Harry Potter every day, we need to multiply your BMR by your activity level.  Use the following descriptors to categorize yourself, and if you're somewhere in the middle of two categories, well, split the difference!

  • Sedentary: multiply BMR x 1.2
  • Light activity (1-3 days per week): BMR x 1.375
  • Moderately active (3-5 days per week): BMR x 1.55
  • Very active (hard activity 6-7 day per week): BMR x 1.725
  • Extra active (training for a sport full time): BMR x 1.9

Example, for me: 
1,415 calories burned AT REST x 1.725 = 2,440 calories burned on average each day

According to my collected data, this is pretty darn accurate. On average, on days when I exercise, my GoWearFit shows that I burn between 2,500 and 2,600 calories. On rest days when I just walk around doing normal stuff but don't work out, I burn an average of 1,800 – 2,000 calories.  So I trust this formula.

Okay!  Now that we have a good idea how many calories we are using up in a day, we need to know how many we are eating.


You gotta write it down.  Everything.   Half cookies count, that little spoonful of peanut butter counts, and food you taste even though you're making it for someone else...that counts.  Food that no one saw you eat, yeah, that counts.  If it is digested by your body, you count it.  It's science people. I can't help it.

Fitday makes it easy to keep track of it all with a ginormous food database, and it calculates everything for you.  Your goal is for the number of calories you EAT to be the same or less than the number of calories you BURN.  

To lose weight, you need to burn more than you eat.  It really is that simple.  If when you enter in your food and you don't like what you see on either end, change it. Either eat less or move around more - your choice.  I think you will see that the cleaner and healthier your food choices become, the happier that scenario begins to look.  However, pay close attention to the number of calories you are taking in; eating fewer than 1,200 calories for women or 1,800 calories for men is not recommended and can do more harm than good.  You have to eat. Again, it's science.  I can't change science. If I could, trust me things would be different around here.

Remember, our goal during the holidays is progress, not perfection. By being aware of your caloric needs and intake, you can minimize the damage done to your wellness and make January a much happier month.  

Do the math!  Do it today!  Make progress!


Karen Thurston Chavez said...

Great information! I'm keeping this one!

Sarah from said...

This is soooo helpful. Thanks!

Healthy Heather said...

You're welcome, Sarah! I'm glad to hear it! :)