Thursday, June 11, 2009

The solution to all the worlds problems...

"If I have seen farther than other men it is by standing on the shoulders of giants."

- Isaac Newton, physicist

Being the type of person I am, I want to be helpful. So in my wanderings around the various blogs, especially in the SparkWorld, if I read about someone celebrating a success, I cheer with them. If I see someone struggling, I offer words of value and encouragement.

If I see someone complaining that they're on their X week of a plateau... I bang my head on my desk.

You see, I also want to save the world.

I read something like that, it's like a double dog dare to me - to find the root of the problem and help them out of it. I see that, I immediately look for the cause. And 99.99% of the time I can tell exactly what's wrong and the secret of how to fix it. Forever.

Problem is, I usually want to do it in 1 of 3 ways:

1) Veruca responds in a way only a 6 year old can: By calling the person a "stoopidhead".

2) Stevie steps in and gives the teenage snarky/betterthanyou attitude

3) I take on the mom role with the, 'there, there, let me help. I know what's best for you if you'd just listen' attitude.

But I made a promise to myself (and my hubby) to not randomly spout off info to people that don't ask for my help.

But since you're here, I can spout freely. ;)

See I WAS there. I was making the same mistakes.

Then I stood on the shoulder of a giant that gave me that ever so simple - but crucial - piece to the greater puzzle, and it was like the heavens opened up, angels were singing, and all was right and happy with the world.

Either way, I couldn't have done it alone! I had to have someone else play 'Captain Obvious' for me to get it. And today, I will share with you that secret. (I'll try to do it in a text book way, but can't guarantee that Stevie or Veruca won't give any input on it ;)

You ready?

It's huge!

It's called math.

Waitwaitwait... don't go away! Lemme esplain and I'll attempt to keep it short and sweet.

Lets forget for just a moment that the popular national past time of weight loss has emotional and physiological components to it. I know it's difficult, but really, put it aside for a moment.

In it's simplest, most basic concept, weight is really a matter of math, aka calories in vs. calories out.

I know, I know, you've heard this before and are sick of it, but again, stick with me because this is how I had my a-ha moment!

Just a quick recap of the basics so we're on the same page:

When you embark on a weight loss adventure you're told two things:

1. The Calories In factor

1a If you have a calorie surplus (aka take in more calories than your body uses) - you gain weight

1b. If you have a calorie balance (aka take in the same number of calories that your body uses) - you maintain your current weight

1c. If you have a calorie deficit (aka take in _moderately_ fewer calories than your body uses) - you lose weight.

2. The Calories Out factor

2a. Get up and move a little, you will burn a few calories.

2b. Get up and move a lot, you will burn a lot of calories.

That's where most information stops, and that's the two things that people tend to focus on the most: reduce what you eat and move more. It's straight forward and overall, is very sound advice, but incomplete.

There's the third piece that seems really obvious, but yet seems to be missed.

This is The Super Secret piece of info that I'm sharing with just you for the low low price of $9.95, and I'll throw in a set of ginsu knives if you call in the next 10 minutes.

LOL! Kidding! But really, this was the moment the light bulb went on and I went "DuH!"

/Most/ people focus on #1. They plan their meals, stay in their calorie range, etc. (yay!)

/Then/ they focus on #2. They exercise their brains out and burn a bunch of calories. (Oooh, feel the burn)

The missing link is that you have to do a bit _more_ math (and you told your teachers you'd never use it after high school! LOL!): Take #1 (total calories consumed), SUBTRACT #2 (calories burned) and it gives you #3.

#3 is the TOTAL number of calories your body is left with to perform silly things like breathing, digesting, beating your heart, etc.

Let me give you an example from a friend of mine:

Here are my totals for the past week:

June 1: 537 calories burned, 1402 eaten = 865 calories total
June 2: no exercise, 1703 eaten = 1703 calories total
June 3: 739 burned, 1319 eaten = 580 calories total
June 4: 886 burned, 1440 eaten = 544 calories total

When you look at it in this light, it seems clear = you aren't giving your body what it needs to function.

I /could/ give you a formula to figure out exactly what _your_ personal caloric needs are (and will help out if you ask), and lecture you on the dangers of continually eating at way below your minimum calorie requirements (but I won't).

But for now, lets keep it simple. If you're working your butt off and not getting anywhere use this rule of thumb:

Take the calorie range you're given through SparkPeople and use the lowest number as the bare minimum total calories you are left with, your #3.

For example, your calorie range is 1400-1800.

You eat 1500 calories and exercise to burn 400 calories. What are you left with? (I know, I hated word problems too! LOL!)

Your total for the day is 1100 calories. That's 300 calories below your minimum number and less than the minimum number of calories your body needs to function.

So what do you do? You eat more, silly!

The key is to do the math so you always meet meet the minimum, if not a _bit_ more (a bit being an extra 100-200 calorie snack, not an extra cake. ;) If you give your body the fuel it needs, you will eventually be rewarded with an efficent, fat burning machine.

Next lesson can be on getting your brain on straight. Till then...

Class dismissed.

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