Wednesday, January 30, 2013

April A to Z Challenge

Well thanks to my wonderful friend The Capillary I am going to be doing another blogging challenge. This time it's a month long challenge called:

So I've got a bit of time to think on this one, but knowing The Capillary, she'll probably challenge me to another one in between now and then. After all, there are two months to go.

And I am accepting suggestions for topics and wish me luck!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Caloric Confusion

Today I managed to get an early start on the day. Getting up, prepping my food for the day and spending most of the early morning talking with a friend of mine, The Capillary. We were talking about weight loss and calories which got me thinking and wondering. So I spent a "few minutes" this morning doing a some research.

I count my calories and I just trusted in my app to help me decide the best caloric intake. Basically, it would calculate my BMR and times it by my activity level and then I would just drop another 200 cal off of that for my caloric intake for weight loss. Even though I did that, I didn't really stop and think about how the app got the number that it did or why I was choosing the caloric intake that I had decided on. I just went with it.

Now that I've done some research, I think I may have a better understanding of exactly what is going on when it comes to figuring out how much I should be eating - calorie-wise at least.

No matter how much you exercise or don't exercise, the most basic thing for weight loss is that you need to consume less calories than you're using in an average day[site]. From what I've read, 3500 cal is equivalent to one pound of fat loss [cite] . So if I want to lose a pound a week I need to cut 3500 cal out of my diet. That's 500 cal a day. 1000 calories a day for a two pound loss. It kind of seems like a lot to cut out especially since most experts agree that you shouldn't be dropping below 1000-1200 calories a day [cite]. Of course more research is needed about how little is too little calories, but in truth it does vary from person to person. However, too little calories for too long has been shown to decrease BMR[cite].

Speaking of BMR (basal metabolic rate) - what the hell is that? If you don't already know, it's the minimum amount of calories your body requires at rest [cite]. Mine is about 1690 calories per day. That is me at rest, not doing anything, but laying on my ass and watching TV. Of course, everything I do that isn't that means I burn a few more calories. Standing, walking, working at my desk - they add a calorie here or a calorie there, but maybe not as much as we like to think.

I work at a desk. It's definitely considered sedentary unless I add in exercise to my day. So, an average day without exercise I'm burning about 2000 calories in a day and if I'm exercising I'm probably burning closer to 2300 calories. You can figure out what you're expending in energy by taking your BMR and multiplying it by 1.2 for sedentary, 1.375 for light activity, 1.55 for moderate, 1.725 for very active and 1.9 for extreme [cite].

So, with no extra exercise, if I ate about 1500 calories a day I should lose about a pound a week. To lose 1.5 pounds, I'd be eating 1250 calories a day. If I wanted to make it two pounds, then I'm dropping into dangerous territory with only 1000 calories a day. Of course, the more weight I lose, the lower my BMR is and the harder it'll be to cut calories without exercise or starving myself.

Of course, just like most general use tools like this, there is margin for error, but it's always nice to have a good guideline. Those with a higher percentage of lean muscle are going to have a higher BMR than the calculated amount and those who have more fat than lean muscle are going to use less calories[cite]. So, in all honesty, there ought to be a calculation in there based on your body fat percentage as well.

Another thing to keep in mind is that a healthy amount of weight loss is considered to be approximately 1 - 2 lbs a week for long term sustained weight loss.[cite]. So you do want to keep your approach balanced and to make sure you're not dropping too far below a healthy weight loss amount. And since we're talking calories, it does need to be mentioned that not all calories are created equal[cite].

So where does all of this leave me? Well, I need to eat fewer than 1500 calories a day to lose weight when I'm not exercising. If I am exercising, that's still a good amount, but I need to be careful not to overestimate the amount of calories I'm burning. As I lose weight, I'll need to keep going back and recalculating what I need to. Of course, if I want to have some "free days" to indulge, the days where my caloric intake is reduced will need to slightly lower still to keep a steady weight loss.

It seems complicated and simple at the same time. Eat less, but not too little and don't count on exercise to make up for a bad diet. Mostly though, we all need to figure out what works best for it and fits our lifestyle and personality. There is a lot of great advice out there to be found, but remember that each of us is different and we're gonna just have to keep trying till we find what works for us - and then be willing to adjust as our bodies change and adapt.

Oh,and The Capillary - you were right. It just seemed so little to me, 1200 calories, but I can totally see it now. Had to do the research just to wrap my head around the numbers! lol

A few good tips on dieting, weight loss and food choices.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Willpower and Snackies

If you were to ask me, I'd tell you that I'm not very gifted in the area of willpower. Sometimes I'm good and I stick to my guns, but more often than I'd like to admit, I give in to temptations. When it comes to watching my calories, it certainly is hard to not just go whole hog on some of the temptations that are out there.

Today, for example, one of the girls brought a large box full of potato chips to work. Her boyfriend works for one of the big chip companies and he often will bring chips home from work. And the best way to get rid of those chips is for her to bring them to work. It's not secret in our building that the floor I work on will always eat the food. (No, seriously, they usually put leftovers on our floor because they know we'll eat it up here even though we're one of the smallest departments.)

I love potato chips. When I was younger there were days (when I was in college) when all I would eat in an entire day is one large bag of chips. And a bottle of pop. Those days are long behind me and I rarely ever bring chips into my house anymore. One of the reasons is, when they're there, I eat them. I have a hard time resisting.

Now here I am, I giant box of free chips sitting across the room and hockey starts this weekend. The smallest of the bags is 450 kCal for the entire bag and I can see myself eating it easily in one sitting. *sigh* I want so bad, but I'm trying to resist as best I can.

I guess what this really boils down to, is what can I use as a potato chip alternative when watching the game this weekend? And, of course, I'm on a strict budget until next payday so I need to work with what is already in my kitchen which makes things that much more difficult. Or perhaps, I should just avoid the snackies altogether?

It's tough since the game is on at 8pm local (after my typical dinner time) do I just hold off dinner instead or what? It's a tough decision to make and I'm just not sure. Suggestions are certainly welcome.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Fifty Gone!

So the other day I stepped on my scale to finally read the number that told me that I had officially gotten rid of 50lbs of my old self. YAY! It was an incredible thing to see. It means I have (hopefully) gotten past that plateau I've been stuck at since I injured my leg in August.

One of the things that I have started doing again is watching my caloric intake. I kind of went a bit overboard on chocolates and other sweets over the holidays. I had gotten myself back into the habit of bad eating. Oddly enough, once I turned my mind back to calories, it wasn't hard to keep myself near or under my caloric goal.

For example, today's menu consists of a spinach & feta omelet, buttered cheese toast (1 slice), a granola bar and greek yogurt for breakfast, cooked cabbage with bacon and chicken sausage for lunch (jello snack for dessert!), veggies and dip for my snacks and dinner will be spinach & feta stuffed chicken breast with steamed broccoli and baby potatoes. Entire calorie count for the day 1250 kCals.

This means, if I really want, I have room for some sweets like 1/2 a cup of ice cream or a couple of chocolates if I want. And frankly, that looks like a lot of food to me. Does it to you? Either way, I figured it was time to get myself in check after the holidays. I would love to get those last 20-30lbs gone this year.

In related news, my leg is starting to feel much better so guess who gets to start doing more exercise? If you guessed me, then you're right! No running or jumping yet, but some brisk walking and other exercises that don't slam my leg around too much and it's no longer swelling up like it used to. I'm officially on the mend. Another yay.

Other than that, I've just been sitting around quietly and patiently, waiting for my beta-readers to get back to me on my novel. Fingers crossed for good reviews....

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

And thus another year has passed...

Welcome to 2013.

Thus far it doesn't look too different from the old year. I woke up before 8am, I walked my dog, I went out for breakfast at one of my favourite places and worked a little on my writing.

In other words, it's been a pretty good year so far.

All in all, I think I came out on top in 2012. I'm a year closer to being 100% debt free and I lost a lot of weight. People say I am more confident and outgoing now. I crossed a few milestones such as getting drivers license and finishing a novel from beginning to end. I did some new things like moving apartments and getting a dog. And I made a few mistakes like running over myself.

2012 wasn't a bad year for me at all. And still, I'm happy to see it over. I can't shake the feeling that 2013 is going to be an even better year for me. I have a few big events coming up that I know of, like the trip to England, but I'm talking about something more.

It might be silly, but 2013 jut feels like it's gonna be good to me. I know I'll have my share of bad, everyone always does. You can't avoid all the tears and heartache that life inevitably brings, but I don't think i'll just come out on top this year. I think I'm going to remember it as a great year.

Of course, I could be wrong. We'll see how I feel at the dawn of 2014.