Monday, March 12, 2012

Weight Loss 101

First things first, this is not a weight loss blog.  It's a healthy living blog. I think you all know that by now; however, today I'm going to break down losing weight in the simplest way possible. 

Here's the thing... at the end of the day, a calorie, is a calorie, is a calorie.  3500 calories = 1 pound. Period. It's not a magic formula. The tips, workouts, and recipes in this blog are a path to health and ultimately, a path to weight loss.  I do, however, understand that sometimes with the healthiest of intentions... weight loss plateaus OR is ruined by a few nights out and a weekend of indulgences.  I get it - I've been there - we've all been there. Even when you're eating healthy options, keeping your diet in check and working out... a holiday season, party weekends, eating off the kid's plate, or multiple work dinners, can add up.  

Allow me to be clear, eating a diet with colorful fruits & veggies, whole grains, lean proteins, and staying away preservatives, artificial flavors, high fructose corn syrup, saturated fats, refined flour and sugars WILL keep you healthy and at a healthy weight.  It just will.  Indulging in some dessert that is proportioned and eating some meals out, isn't going to make you fat when 80% of the time, your diet is healthy.  So that's the first thing... 80% of the time, pick healthy options.  Save the 'treats' for occasions that you're looking forward to or when you have a craving.  And really, please oh please, don't complain or eat with guilt.  Just enjoy. (and get some exercise in ;-)

That being said, and going back to the calorie formula... if you've indulged just a little too much and you really want to lose weight.  It's all about the math, my friends. Again, 3500 calories = 1lb.  You gotta WORK.  Exercise and watch your calorie intake.  I don't believe in counting calories all the time - you will make yourself crazy (been there, done that). HOWEVER, when it's time to get serious, start counting... even if it's just for a few days to get you started and AWARE of all the little extras you might be consuming.  Writing down what you put in your body and its calorie content will likely be pretty eye opening.  I'm being careful with the way I'm writing this... I DO NOT condone counting calories on a consistent basis, really I don't.  I don't think it's healthy for the mind set, at all. It is good, however, for weight loss.  Count calories consumed and subtract calories burned.  TIP: Set your machines at the gym at 5-10lbs lighter than you are because they tend to overestimate calories burned (hate to break it to ya ;-)  If you don't work out at the gym - no worries - just plug in about 80-100 calories per 10 minutes of whatever cardio you are doing and about 50-100 for lifting.  Again, don't get too caught up in this piece... it's more about the food. 

Ok, how do you know how many calories you should be consuming to lose weight?  Women anywhere from 1200-1800 depending on your size and activity level.  Men - anywhere from 1800-2400 depending on the same factors.  Understanding your Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR) will help you figure out your number better (find it quickly here:  This number is the # of calories you burn, at rest, without exercise, etc.  This is just a calculation but it's pretttttty close to true (there's other formulas you can google - I'm not going to get too into it here.  TIP: You can increase your metabolic rate by building lean muscle mass!  Revert back to my "living room lift" post to get a good workout and learn more. So for monitoring your weight loss, you'll want to get down to this number of calories between your diet and exercise program.  I'm a mere 5'1", well 5'1"and 3/4 but who's counting!. Ah anyway, my RMR is low... right around 1200 booooo, but it is what it is and I modify my diet and exercise program for it.  Cutting around 500 calories per day will bring you to that 1lb weight loss per week.  There is no magical formula, it's calories in, calories out.  It's math and no one said it's easy but it is what it is!  

*do not eat less than 1200 calories per day - it's metabolism suicide - trust me - your body will hate you and you will store fat instead of burn it. AND, eat every meal, do not torture your body with skipping meals*

One last thing... what I do like about counting calories is that it allows you to still eat whatever you want but watch your portion control.  It also ends up encouraging you to eat healthy foods because they are lower in calories - go figure!  (Ah, weight watchers is (I think) the number one weight loss program in the country and has huge success rates - based on this - they put calories into a formula and call them points - money maker but hey, good for them!).  Let me know if I can offer any additional insight into this and good luck. Have a great week - if you're in the Boston area - it's going to be SOOOO nice out.. enjoy this weather!! 

**PS: the app "Lose it" is free and makes calorie counting super easy.

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