Thursday, January 7, 2010

"Beginings" or "Literally a Year to a New Me"

Welcome to my new "New Year" Blog for 2010.
Like so many I have decided to follow that ancient tradition of making resolutions upon the arrival of January 1st. There has been many a January 10th that hasn’t lived up to our hopes, but in the end its always good to have goals. Husband Jim has resolved with me this year, and I feel quite good about the possibilities.

It was late November last year, when a friend Jennifer and I were discussing needing to loose weight, change our behavior patters (aka stop bad habits and grow good ones), and establish a more positive outlook. She let me borrow a book which has really helped me visualize my goals.

Active Wellness: Feel Good for Life author Gayle Reichler said the first step is to list the things you wish to change. Second, describe in detail how "future-you" IS changed, using present tense verbs like “I am”. The third step is visualizing and verbalizing these details several times a day.

My list included my goal weight of 140 lbs, the date I wished to achieve that goal by (Jan 1, 2011), the healthy habits I will have developed including types and quantities of exercise activities and choices of food, as well as my spiritual perspective on the world. After a month of building the simple habit of visualizing and verbalizing my goals several times a day, I was ready to start.

January 1st I started drinking lots of water, and practiced saying No to cake. At lunch, Jim and I didn’t order fries with our McDonalds combos and drank unsweet tea. I went for a baked potato and a Chicken sandwich no sauce. Jim went for a Spicy Breaded Chicken sandwich with Mandarin orange slices. It was filling. We were not counting our calories, we were practicing making Healthier choices. We'd been doing this somewhat for most of December, but we dedicated ourselves to it for the next 2 days.

January 3rd, Sunday, was another day of being aware of what I was eating, and attempting to make Healthier choices. At the end of the day, I set-up an account with, logged all that I’d eaten that day, and it came to a whopping 2600 calories! That’s how much I was eating while saying No to Jim’s mom’s homemade chocolates, popcorn at the movies, and second helpings. I’d snacked my way to 2600 calories without even realizing it.

January 4th, Monday, I decided to shoot for my goal of 1800 calories a day. So, I broke out the dreaded scale, fidgeted with it for a while till it worked, and weighed myself – 250 lbs. Apparently I’d gained 5 over the holidays. I sat down and recalculated my weightloss math to see if it still worked.

You see, according to Gayle Reichler, doing the math is very important. Pick your goal weight, subtract from your current weight, then divide by 2; the result is an estimation of the number of weeks it would take you to reach your goal. Setting achievable goals is very important for creating opportunities for success; more than an average of 2-3 lbs a week of weightloss is not reasonable. My healthy weight should be between 130 and 155 lbs, given my height and bone density. And, of course, my Doctor Linda Eakle advised the specific goal weight of 140. So, to reach that in 54 weeks, I’d have to loose an average of 2.04 lbs per week. This is quite reasonable.

To achieve this I would have to eat less calories and burn a few more with exercise – the traditional good balance. But how to determine “less” and “more” than what? I would need a number to add and subtract from.

This “number” is your Base Calories needed to maintain your current lifestyle and weight. My friend David who bikes frequently and for long distances has a very active lifestyle, so his caloric intake would be around 2800-3000 calories. My roommate who is chronically ill has a very sedentary lifestyle, so his caloric intake would need to be around 2000 a day. My lifestyle of late has been sedentary with occasional activity, so to maintain my current weight I’d have to eat around 2300 calories. I came to this number by using a great online calculator that bases this number on your current weight, age, height, gender and level of activity:

Now I have my number: 2300. What do I do with this? Well, I do more math.

For every pound of fat I want to burn, that’s 900 calories. Since I want to burn 2 lbs a week or more, I need to burn at least 1800 calories each week. Divide that by 7 days in a week and you get 257 calories: this is how much less I need to eat each day.

But, I chose my daily food goal to be 1800, that’s 500 calories less than my base. This is because I’m waaaaay out of shape, so the majority of my weight loss needs to be by diet in the begining, while my exercise routine should be focused around stretching and toning, at least for now. Later, as I increase my Activity, I can increase my caloric intake to match. Also, I need to leave room for the hard-months when it’s very difficult to loose even a pound a week near the end. Further, I need to leave room for weight-gain: yes, you read that right. When you build muscle, you get heavier. Muscle weights 5 times as much as fat.

After all this, you get why it took me over a month to prepare, and why Doctors are important, right?

Anyway, at 1800 calories a day, I’m under by around 500 calories per day, that’s 3500 calories per week, which translates to about 3-4 lbs of weight lost per week. Each calorie I burn by increasing my activity in little ways each day is extra, and will help me later on when I start “kickin’ it up a notch” with walking miles per day, and then eventually running miles.

January 5th-7th have been good. I’ve kept to my 1800 calorie goals, adding foods to my account, and tracking my moderate activities. I went over by 120 calories on the 6th, but that was cool with me. I’ve plenty of room in my calorie budget to have a cookie or two on occasion :)

So, I weighed myself this morning and it’s official: I’ve lost 3 lbs – my weight is now 247 lbs :)

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