Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Wellness Wednesday

Calories In/Calories Out

That's the basis of weight gain, loss, or maintenance.  Before one gets into the minutia of which diets are the best, one needs to focus on how many calories are being consumed and how many are being burned.  A few months back I purchased a Fitbit (you can learn more about this device here).  This itty bitty amazing piece of electronics measures my daily activity - steps, miles, and calories burned.  In addition, the online program allows users to enter the foods eaten to see how many calories are consumed.  

I'm a woman of average height and in the normal weight range.  According to my Fitbit, I burn an average of 1700 calories a day.  This calorie burn includes my approximately three times a week yoga practice and almost daily walks on my farm.  What this boils down to is if I want to maintain my weight, I cannot eat more than 1700 calories a day unless I increase my activity.  Also, if I want to lose weight, my calorie intake needs to drop below 1700 calories.  

If you read last week's Wellness Wednesday post, you learned about the calorie content of many popular meals at chain restaurants.  Many of these dishes were close to or over my daily calorie requirement to maintain my weight - and this was just one dish.  Do you see where I'm going with this?

I hear lots of people debate the merits of various diets - low fat, low carb, high carb, etc. Although there is some truth to the effectiveness of some of these diets depending on your personal body chemistry, the fact is that one still needs to consume fewer calories than they burn in order to lose weight.  

I recommend looking at your food intake.  Maintain a log of meals and calories eaten over a two week period of time.  There are a number of online programs that can assist you with this, including Spark People.  They can be found using a good search engine.  Once you see how many calories you are consuming on a daily basis, think about your lifestyle.  Is it, like most people in the Western world, a very sedentary life?  Do you spend most of your time in a car, at a desk and/or on the couch?  If so, this means you're probably not burning enough calories for weight loss.  To get an estimate about how many calories you typically burn in a day, go to this online calorie burn calculator.  You will probably be surprised how few calories you burn.

Once you know your daily intake and output, you can begin to adjust your diet and activity in order to work towards reaching your goals.


Shona~ LALA dex press said...

A co-worker of mine is the absolute epidomy of completely regaining control of your health and turning it all around. She was dx with type II diabetes and now eats mainly vegan and organic (we swap recipes and suggestions), walks a few miles a day and looks at least 10 years younger. Actually, I have know her for 10 years and she looks younger than when I first met her...she glows! AND she has basically reversed her diabetes.

She is losing weight in a very healthy way, but could not get over the plateau of the last 15 lbs. She measures out all her food in order to manage her diabetes, but got into a routine of eyeballing portions. She went back to measuring everything out + is now on the back side of those 15 lbs.

We work on the 3rd fl of our office and I am constantly encouraging everyone to use the stairs (and drink the free filter water our company offers!). A sociological evaluation could easily be done on the stair climbers and the elevator riders.

The Fitbit device looks very interesting.

Cherie said...

Shona, that is so encouraging to hear about your co-worker. A few weeks ago I heard about a woman who needed knee replacement surgery due to her weight. She was told she had to loose weight in order to be healthy enough for the surgery. She lost the weight and, as a result, ended up not needing the surgery. Plus she was able to stop taking some medications for illnesses linked to her obesity.

I've thought about studies on things like stair climbing vs. elevators. My personal observations focus on grocery store parking lots - those who leave their carts next to their cars versus those who take the time to return them to where they belong. My observation has been that almost without fail, those who don't take the time/energy to put the carts back are extremely overweight or obese.