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Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Wednesday Weigh In - Do the Math

I love this picture.  We all make mistakes, but with an eraser you can back up and try again! That strategy can be applied to algebra homework or a weight control equation.  Here's how my diet/exercise plan is supposed to work: 

1600 calories (intake) - 1365 (basal metabolism) - 800 (calories burned walking 4 miles) = -565

This plan will allow me to lose about one pound a week.  I've made a decision NOT to eat less than 1500-1600 calories a day, because low calorie diets don't provide sufficient nutrients, and heck - I'm just plain hungry!  I also know I won't be able to walk 4 miles each and every day.  I'm slowly working my way back up to 10,000 steps a day.  I'm happy to making gradual, measurable progress. 

But here's the rub: if I indulge in some chocolate (+200 calories) and am unable to take my usual walks, I may walk less than one mile in a day - thanks to having a desk job.  These calculations are far less flattering:

1800 (intake) - 1365 (basal metabolism) - 200 (calories burned walking 1 mile) = +235 calories

In this scenario, I'll maintain or slowly gain weight.  This demonstrates how diet and exercise can only take you so far. 

But there is one variable in the equation that can still be manipulated: basal metabolism.  By building muscle, our bodies will burn more calories.  I've mentioned the Strong Women Stay Young program before.  In the past this provided the extra something I needed to keep my weight under control.  According to my old weight lifting notes, I was lifting 10-15 lb hand weights regularly.  I hope to work my way back up, but for now I'm happy with my little 2 pounders! 

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