OK, fine, I’ve given up… I was trying to post some stuff that’s not about food, eating, exercise, etc. But hey, you write what you know, right?
As I have mentioned ad nauseum… I am now tracking my food intake in a web application… and I have this cool little monitor that tells me what I am, in turn, burning off.
This has taught me a few things, some of which make me very, very irritated.
Thing number 1 – Whatever it is you think you are eating? You are probably wrong.
I used to count up my estimated calories in my head each day… as in… “OK, that was 300 for breakfast and 300 for lunch and then I had a couple of cups of tea so add 200, etc. etc. I would invariably estimate that I was getting around 1400 calories a day. This would make me sad and angry because DAMNIT!! I, as a 5’7″ 145 pound person should burn 1600 calories a day just laying on the couch! And I’m exercising and everything! Then it would be all “oh… woe is me, I have a slow metabolism, my body doesn’t work right, I am DOOMED! I’m eating 1400 calories and am supposed to be burning so much! How can I be gaining weight?! I’m broken!”
But… as it turns out… yeah, I had no idea what I was eating. As soon as I started entering everything in the tracker, I realized just exactly how off I must have been. With the tracking, EVEN WITH replacing my non-dairy powdered creamer laden tea with healthy snacks of what I thought were similar calories, I realized what it was to ACTUALLY be eating at 1400 calories a day, and how many “bites of this, because it’s just a bite” that I wasn’t thinking about I was having before. So in reality? I was probably eating much closer to 1800 on weekdays, then on weekends, I was allowing myself 2000 ish… but it was probably much more than that… so the mystery of the weight gain was solved. It turns out, and it galls me to say this, because I really hate simplistic formulas… but, yeah, I was just eating more than I was burning. And my burn rate was fine, and my metabolism does not seem to be all that out of whack… I was just eating more than I thought I was.
So since I started the tracking, I have had an average 500 calorie deficit per day. That’s 13,000 calories over 26 days that I have burned that I have not eaten. Now… divide that by 3500 – the number of calories in a pound… that’s 3.71 pounds that science tells me I should have lost with that stupid old “calories in, calories out” methodology. So, let’s see… my weight on the first day I started tracking? 145. My weight today? 141.2. The difference? 3.8 pounds.
Gah! Science wins! Bastards! If they are so smart… where’s my damn magic health pill?
Thing number 2 I have learned – Whatever you think you are burning? You are probably wrong.
Yes… so… that’s the other thing. The counter on the exercise bike? The elliptical machine? The treadmill? The online “enter your activity, weight, duration, etc” calculators? Not to be trusted. These machine makers? They want you to believe you are burning all kinds of calories using their machines… why? Because they want to sell more of them!
But when you get yourself a little gadget that tells you what, exactly, you YOU, personally, are burning, based on your heartrate or temperature or whatever your gadget monitors? It’s much, much lower than that. Our bodies oare models of efficiency… they desperately want to keep all the energy they’ve got saved up… just in case we have to run away from a lion or whatever later in the day. So getting the body to release the energy it has is quite the feat. It’s hard work. I used to think I was working in the “hard” zone when I worked out. I have since learned exactly what the definition of “vigorous” exercise is… and let me tell you, I wasn’t doing it before, no matter what I thought.
I have found out the following… sitting on my butt I burn 1 calorie per minute. Doing what I used to consider “vigorous” exercise, but, in fact, has turned out to be moderate? I burn an extra 4 calories per minute, bringing me up to a whopping 5 calories per minute. That’s 300 calories in an hour. My exercise bike would have me believe I burned WAY more than that riding on it. To get up to “vigorous”, which damn near kills me, I burn another 1 to 2 calories per minute, giving me a rate of 6 or 7, which I can reach for about 20 minutes out of a 45 minute workout. So if I really bust my ass, I can get up to 400 – 420 per hour working out.
What did your treadmill tell you the last time you ran on it? Was it higher than that? Did you look at that number and, like me, think “Oh! That means I can have CAKE!” When in real life, you really only burned off half a cookie?
So, what I’ve really learned so far… I was previously eating way more than I thought. I was previously burning way less than I thought. The mystery of the five pounds… no longer a mystery.
Handily, another week and I should be back to where I started and am most comfortable, then I can go back to eating what I burn. But this time I’ll actually know what I have burned and what I am eating, so there will be no “mysteries”… I will know damn well that the Chinese buffet trip (and yes, I have calculated it) is 2600 calories all by itself and can balance that with exercise or perhaps eating less the day before and after (because you will take away my monthly Chinese buffet when you pry it out of my cold, dead fingers!)
I hate it when science is right, though, it gets all cocky and “I told you so” and then you never hear the end of it!