Friday, January 8, 2010

Questioning Success

There are many things in this world I question, like why do we call them “Meter Maids”, why am I so gullible, and why does doing my friend’s dishes feel cooler than doing my own? However, when I started questioning the “gift horse”, it seemed a bit much, until I found myself doing the math again.

Today, January 8, 2010, I weighed myself again and I’d lost yet another pound in a day. This is great news, being 4 lbs closer to my goal weight, but for some reason I questioned “Why?”

You see, there are a couple factors that didn’t seem to add up.

First, I know it isn’t dehydration. We’re humidifying the house the old fashioned way with a nice sized pot of water on the stove, and the house is quite comfortable. My sinuses approve. Also, I’m drinking plenty of water and mild teas (no sodas), around 64 ounces a day as recommended by the Mayo Clinic (

Second, as I am incredibly out of shape, my increase in activity has been gentile at best. Except for one day this week, my activity has consisted of walking the dog for a half a square block, and cleaning a bit more, which had me going up and down our basement steps several times. Using I was able to total these few burned calories and it came to an average of 50 calories per day. On January 4th I pushed it a bit with the help of a friend. Maybe it was all the calories from the day before, but I was energized and when Liz came over encouraging me to do some crunches, stretches, and stepping, I said Yes. I think I was able to do 6 crunches at a time, but I did 3 sets, so that’s not too bad. I did quite a few stretches, joking around on the exercise ball, and balancing on an inflatable disk. This lasted for about 20 minutes. I also washed dishes for an hour, and cleaned around the house for an hour. Using I was able to total all these burned calories and it came to around 450 calories. This might explain the first 2 pounds lost, but not the next 2.

My thought was, “If I’m not exercising them off, how am I loosing a pound a day? I shouldn’t be loosing that much from dieting alone.”

So I started going over the math again.

I’m eating 1800 calories a day. According to’s “Calories per day Calculator” (, and based on a Sedentary Lifestyle, my base caloric intake needed to maintain my present weight was 2300 calories. This gave me the 500 calorie window of weightloss per day. Add it up and you’ve got 3.5 to 4 pounds lost in 7 days. However I didn’t start dieting till the 4th, so that means I’ve lost all 4 pounds in 4 days. Given these numbers, I should have only lost 2.5 to 3 pounds.

    Jan 4th     Jan 5th     Jan 6th     Jan 7th

      450            45           65           38
 + 2300       + 2300      + 2300     + 2300
   ------       ------       ------      ------
    2750         2345         2365       2338
  - 1800      - 1800       - 1800     - 1800
   -------      -------     ------     ------
      950    +     545     +    565    +   538  =  2598 cal burned

It takes 900 calories burned to equal 1 pound lost.

2598 / 900 = 2.89 lbs

And then I rediscovered something on my account. When I’d originally set it up, I’d selected the Base Caloric Lifestyle of “Seated with Occasional Activity”, as this seemed to describe me quite well. However, when it allocated 2570 calories as its value, I simply thought that was too many calories and it couldn’t be right. So I ignored it. After all, I’d already done the math, right?.

Now, however, I’m thinking that this figure makes it all add up.

   Jan 4th      Jan 5th      Jan 6th      Jan 7th

        450            45            65            38
   + 2570       + 2570       + 2570      + 2570
   ------        ------        ------      ------
      3020         2615         2635         2608
    - 1800      - 1800       - 1800      - 1800
    ------      ------        ------      -------
      1220    +    815    +     835     +    808  = 3678 cal burned

3678 / 900 =  4.09 lbs lost

It certainly does explain the 4 lbs in 4 days.

I guess I just didn’t realize how much energy it takes to maintain 250 lbs (now 246), or how many calories I was eating before. This grand Health experiment is certainly a learning experience of mathematical proportions.

1 comment:

  1. Wow, you are really on top of things. I just decided to exercise more - haven't even weighed myself. Lots of interesting links here though. My wife is exercising also - much more motivated than I am. She lost down from 250ish to 150ish in a year. We should plan some group walks sometime.