Wednesday, April 15, 2009

It’s all in the numbers

The part that drives me nuts* about weight loss is that it is all a numbers game. A pound of fat is 3500 calories. A deficit must be created weekly of 3500 calories to lose said pound. This must be done with eating and movement combined. Movement must include cardio and strength training. Strength training is needed because muscle burns more than fat, it revs the metabolism, helps shed fat weight and get in shape much faster than cardio alone.

So I set about to eat healthfully, make good choices, slowly learn about real portions and what my caloric needs are, break a sweat and build some muscle, but the numbers are daunting. Actually knowing exactly how to lose a pound (in a numerical sense) rather takes away the mystery of it all in a not great way. I don’t care about the man behind the curtain, I am fine being in the dark about things. I have a terrible suspicion that like a cartoon character run off a cliff, if I didn’t know the numbers, and the character didn’t realize gravity existed, I would lose more weight in bliss and they would never fall. I fear that the universe will now make me follow this formula because I know it, whereas before I might have slipped by mostly unnoticed and lost, say, 22 pounds in just a few weeks.

If I was eating over 2,000 calories a day regularly then dropping to 1400 should have resulted in just over a pound lost a week. If I take that 4200 deficit and add 100 cals a day burned extra with movement I get 4900, which is about a pound and a half lost per week. If I want to really lose 2 or more pounds a week I’m going to have to find higher intensity ways to burn calories off because I can’t/won’t/will lose my damn mind if I attempt to restrict my calories any more.

This is rational, mathematical, and lovely on paper. It is not, however, happy to my brain or my fat gut. Perhaps I have been far too heavily influenced by years of media showing starlets/paid spokespeople/your mom losing weight practically by magic or performing special moves and eating special food because I really want to see that 5 pound loss in one week poof! Like magic.

Real weight loss takes time. It takes time and a shift in paradigm (sorry, work word). It could also take methamphetamines but I’m trying not to resort to that until two weeks before the reunion, you know? I try to look at that as a last go to effort, not a long term solution.

I’ve gained a average of 3 1/2 pounds per year since I was 19. That is an average because the weight came in waves, and I managed to lose the same 6 or 8 pounds over and over again for months in and out. But if I think of it in purely mathematical terms I’ve gained 28-38 pounds in 8 years, I can’t expect to lose all of it in three months. But I want to. I’ve never been a good one for planning, my papers are always written last minute and my projects completed in the wee morning hours. I’ve sorta been treating weight loss the same; ignoring the project and figuring I’ll be able to cram and save the day at the last minute. And it doesn’t help to see magazine covers promising 20 pound weight loss in three months and walking off 10 pounds by Easter. I know that the media lies, photoshops everything within an inch of its life, and tries to make us miserable about our bodies in order to sell us stuff. I know this. Yet a little part of me is still pissed that I haven’t dropped ten pounds in two weeks, which, I guess if I really wanted it I could try to pick up dysentery.

In the great weight loss journey the next steps are these:

Gently increase physical activity.
Do not aggravate injuries or conditions.
Join a cheap gym again.
Keep eating the way I am, but let there be a bit of play. If my body still gets the occasional pasta or pizza in right proportional sizes it won’t keep storing up for the famine.

I’ve got to increase calories burned up to about 400 a day, or 2800 a week, to meet the 4200 calorie deficit created by diet to add up to 7,000, or two pounds lost a week.

I can do my strength stuff at home with tapes in the AM, and hit the gym for cardio and intervals in the PM. I can still take walks at lunch, but those are more to stretch out and get away from my desk. I really can’t break a sweat or go jogging during lunch…in my work clothes…down the busy street we’re located on, which means I’ve met the limitations of a lunch walk.

Great! So I have the next step in the game plan. Only…What in heaven’s name burns 400 calories a day besides 3 hours of cardio? Any ideas?

*Mmm, this is a misnomer. Everything about weight loss drives me nuts. Nuts…like peanuts sprinkled on bananas and real whipped cream with chocolate sauce. Gobdamnit, I can’t even add a footnote without having a food fantasy.


sallyacious said...

What in heaven’s name burns 400 calories a day besides 3 hours of cardio? Any ideas?Sex?

I don't know that for sure, I just thought it might be an enjoyable option for you.

One thing to remember that I keep not noticing in your posts about weight loss. (So you may be mentioning it and I'm just forgetting. If so, disregard.)

Muscle weighs more than fat. It's also a better shape than fat. So you might not be losing as much numbers-wise as you would like, but you may be burning up more fat and looking sexxxier than you realize.

sallyacious said...

How odd. I'm not sure why the word Sex didn't get its own paragraph, since it certainly had one when I entered the comment. Kind of spoils the joke.


The CEO said...

I think Sallyacious is onto something.