Saturday, February 27, 2010

Twisted Statistics

Right now, I'm eating tomato soup. I'd forgotten exactly how much I hated soup, especially the kind with reduced salt. Yech! The honey wheat English muffin is making it tolerable, but other than that, EWWWWWWWWW!!!! I'm also having some cranberry juice.

Had I finished all of my soup, this breakfast would have been around 800 calories, which is way more than half I'm supposed to eat in one day. However, I'm planning to take in 2400 calories, which is more than double my limit. It may seem strange, since I'm trying to lose weight, but there's a method to my madness.

Yesterday, I swore to stick to 1148 calories, and burn even more than that. *buzzer* That's TOTALLY wrong, unless I plan to eat like a bird every day of my life, and workout for three hours 7 days a week. That's not realistic!

Here's what I think I figured out. I'm soooooo not a medical doctor, so don't take my word as gospel. Let's say a person (me!) has an estimated resting metabolic rate (RMR) of 1548 calories per day (find out yours by clicking here). That means you burn this amount of calories by just being alive. It doesn't factor in how much you burn at the gym. It's a formula based on your height, weight, age, and gender. So, hypothetically, if I were to lay in bed all day watching TV, I could eat approximately 1548 calories and stay around 185 pounds.

On top of that, to my understanding, a person may burn X amount of calories by being moderately active. I may walk around at work, or do laundry, or wash my car. All of those things also burn calories. So that X amount is added to my 1548. For example, if I clean my house for half an hour, I may burn 90 calories (according to #Lose It). So, if today I just clean my house and then go lay down and watch TV, I can eat 1638 calories and stay around 185 pounds.

Now, let's say that on my lazy Saturday, I also want to go for a 30-minute run (Y). If I run at my normal pace, I'll burn 313 calories. So, now after running, cleaning my house, and watching TV for the rest of the day, I can eat 1951 calories, and still stay around 185 pounds.

This seems easy enough, but another factor comes into play: metabolism. Everybody's metabolism is different, which is why RMR is only estimated. It's determined by a number of factors, a big one of which is genetics. Another factor that may or may not be related to genetics is thyroid function. People with hypothyroidism (your thyroid works slowly) may put on weight easily, and find it difficult to lose. The inverse is hyperthyroidism (your thyroid works rapidly), which does the opposite, but can lead to its own health effects. There are several other medical conditions which can have an effect on metabolism.

It's possible to speed up your own metabolism. From what I heard, you can do this in several ways without medication. I've heard doctors say that you can eat several small meals a day. I've also heard it's good to take vitamins, especially B12 and kelp. Again, I'm no medical doctor...I'm just sharing what I've heard.

On the flip side, I'm finding that it's possible to slow down your metabolism. Remember when I got off the liquid part of the diet and I started eating salads? I gained 3 pounds in two days. That's because when I was drinking juice and water, I was nowhere near my 1548 RMR. So my metabolism reset itself. That's a survival mechanism. My RMR was so much lower when I got off the cleanse, that anything I consumed past RMR + X + Y would be viewed by my body as excess calories and could lead to weight gain. It would take time for my RMR to approach 1548 again, and the only way to do that was to EAT!

This is what led to my derailment on Thursday. I didn't factor this stuff in, and I got frustrated that I was gaining weight so quickly. In the back of my mind, I knew very well that I could eat maybe 800 or 900 calories a day and maintain my 185, but, like I said before, WHO WANTS TO EAT LIKE A BIRD FOR THE REST OF THEIR LIFE?

I guess the pigging out helped in a way. I think it was probably a natural reaction, and since I only did it one day, it probably helped me bring up my RMR. If I were to do it every day, I'd be back at 224 before I knew it! Lol. But one day every blue moon won't hurt.

Anyway, let's bring it back to the present. My iPhone app, Lose It, calculates RMR and counts calories for me. It also calculates how many calories I need to net per day to lose however many pounds per week. I have it set to help me lose 2 pounds per week. A pound is 3500 calories, so I have to net 7000 per week less than I would to maintain my weight. That averages out to 1000 calories per day.

I'm trying to get into the psychology of the app, but from what I figured so far, it takes my 1548 RMR and adds the average X calories that most people expend, then subtracts 1000. Which leads it to 1148. So, netting 1148 calories per day should help me lose two pounds per week, if my metabolism is working right.

Yesterday, I planned to only eat 1148 calories, and burn a ridiculous amount, leading me to net a negative amount of calories. *buzzer* That was WRONG. If I did that regularly, my metabolism would reset itself to expect me to net negative calories a day, which is BAD. At that pace, to lose any weight, I'd have to eat less and less, and workout more and more, as my weight decreased. This would be setting myself up to fail because (1) I don't have an infinite amount of time, and (2) eventually the number of calories taken in would hit 0, and of course if you don't eat for a long time, you'll die. This is not a good idea.

So, today I plan to go to Powerflex and two Zumba sessions. This will burn 1164 calories, give or take. When I add this to my calorie allowance, this gives me 2000-something...I'm tired of doing math. It was almost 2400. When I divide that by three meals, then it's 700-something. To make a long story short (too late!), this is why I can enjoy my 800 calorie breakfast without freaking out. Whew! (As you can see, I love analysis...a typical Virgo trait!)

The best thing I'm learning through this journey is everything in moderation...and I don't just mean food! I'm very often an all-or-nothing kind of person. I overdo it in the gym, I overdo it on diets, I overdo it when pigging out, etc. But it pays to keep a cool head and think things through.

AND WE SHOULDN'T BEAT OURSELVES UP WHEN WE MESS UP ONCE IN A WHILE! As I found, pigging out on Thursday may have helped me stabilize my RMR faster...but like I said, it wouldn't have been good, had I done it Friday, too (like I was tempted to lol). I have to remember, if we eat more than our metabolism can handle at any given time, we will gain weight!

Tomorrow, I DO plan to shock my system, as I described yesterday, but only for one day. I will take in exactly 1148, and burn about 800 over my RMR+X, to net about 348, because I'm weighing in the next day. I think if I do this once or so a week, it won't hurt my metabolism much, and it should be an easy recovery. This is all experimental. We'll see if it pays off Monday morning, for my weigh-in.

(PS, I hopped on the scale this morning out of curiosity...I literally hopped on and hopped off lol! I didn't want to know the exact number, but a ballpark figure. I saw it was around 189ish...this is much better than yesterday's 193ish. Lol.)

Disclaimer: Tales of a Big Girl represents my thoughts and opinions, and those of others. I am not a doctor. Please consult a physician before undertaking a diet or exercise routine.

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