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Smart Dieting – how to not sabotage your goals.

June 23rd, 2011 Comments off

I’m not saying that I have everything figured out, a good review of my blog posts on the matter should prove that fairly well. 😀

But I had a light-bulb moment this week, and when I shared it on the Lose-It! forums and on my friends feed it got a lot of comments and questions.  So I think it’s probably worth reciting on the ol’ blog too.

Besides the wonderful LoseIt! forums, there is another website I’ve been visiting and listening to that advocates a smart form of dieting.  It’s Fat2Fit Radio which has a weekly podcast that discusses the progress of one of the hosts, entertains letters from their fans, and dissects a ‘weight-loss’ fad just about each and every week.  Their philosophy is a bit upside down from LoseIt!, so it was initially a bit confusing trying to reconcile the two worlds.  My light-blub moment prompted me to make the following YouTube video (live with my voice!)

 

If you can’t sit through a boring 3 minute lecture, let me sum up.  Fat2Fit asks you what you current weight is and what your weight-loss goal is, and then give your a page with your current BMR, and a table of calories of what you should be eating at your goal weight for a variety of activities.  Fat2Fit’s philosophy is to eat today like you are at your current weight, and by doing that you end up eating like your a thin person for your weight-loss duration, and you just keep eating that way “for the rest of your life”.

LoseIt’s philosophy is to find your current BMR, apply a standard activity level and deduct your weight-loss plan from that to get your daily calorie goal.  So as you lose weight your calorie goal decreases and you slowly adapt to eating less and less.  When you reach your goal weight, you move to Maintenance mode and that includes a jump in calories that can be quite large.  The other issue is LoseIt!’s formula is just an arithmetic problem, and doesn’t account for the possibility that you might be eating below what is healthy for your body.

What I’ve done (and many other people that come to LoseIt!! as well) is start up with the maximum amount of weight to lose, and just keep it there.  Progress is usually good at the beginning then begins to slow down.  After a while weight-loss stalls and people get frustrated.  My theory is that many people (not ALL) have driven the equation below their BMR and are in the middle of starvation mode.  The quick fix is paradoxically, to eat more.  The problem is LoseIt! has no tools to help you determine this on your own, so the forums are filled with the same frustrating question: “Why am I stalled??!?!” and the answer usually is “Eat more!” and the response is usually… WHAT?!?!? you’ve got to be KIDDING ME?! I’m trying to lose weight!

So we need a tool to help us understand what might be happening with this “starvation mode” or more properly eating below your BMR for an extended period of time. This is where Fat2Fit’s information is helpful, but also confusing because they have a different philosophy to how to eat than LoseIt!

The number we want to keep an eye on is our BMR (another issue is that they both use a slightly different formula to compute BMR so the numbers don’t match exactly).  We want to eat above our BMR and below our Activity Level adjustment.  The confusion is that LoseIt! doesn’t display our current BMR, and that Fat2Fit’s calorie recommendations aren’t associated with our current BMR, but with our goal BMR.

So, lets get into the math.

Here’s my current LoseIt! goals:

Weight: 282
Weekly Plan: 1 lb/week
Calorie Goal: 2734 calories

To get my BMR I need to add back my weekly plan goals, and reverse LoseIt!’s Activity Level Adjustment.

2734 + 500 = 3234 / 1.45 = 2230 calories per day.

So my calorie goal is good, I’m above my BMR and below my Activity level of 3234.  So I should lose about 1/lb week if I hit those numbers.

If we look at Fat2Fit, we get a slightly different number (because they use a different mathematical formula to calculate BMR.  We plug in our numbers and they give us the following:

BMR: 2464 (see it’s a bit higher)

But then they give us a table with the following:

Activity Level Daily Calories
Sedentary 2591
Lightly Active 2969
Moderately Active 3346
Very Active 3724
Extremely Active 4102

First time I read that, and I was just as confused as anyone, because I didn’t read the fine print.

Based on how much activity you do on an average day, the calories in the right column will be the number of calories that you will be able to eat at your goal weight. If you start eating those calories right now (eating like the thinner you), you will eventually become that thinner person. As you get closer to your goal weight, your weight loss will start to slow down. It is OK to eat a few hundred calories less per day (200-300) to speed up your weight loss at this point.

So the numbers they’re giving us are a good range of numbers to eat.  But what should we make our LoseIt! calorie goal?

This is what I’ve determined. The Lightly Active Activity Level is what LoseIt! applies to everyone as a standard (and it’s fairly accurate in the tests they’ve done with volunteers).  So what I’ve decided to do is first set my Lose It! goal so that it comes close to the Lightly Active – Daily Calories goal (I’m actually under that by 200 which about the margin of error induced by the different equations).  Then I plan to eat my exercise calories (which would correct for the additional activity I add by my running training and bicycle commuting).

I’ve done this for the month of June, and my numbers end up right on goal.  So I’ll continue to track this and blog more as I continue fiddling with the controls.

My top-ten foods last year

January 5th, 2011 Comments off

image Using LoseIt! as a food diary is great, because it has some really nifty reports to show you based on the data you’ve recorded.  One of these reports is the favorite foods, you can set the duration for various intervals, but since this is a post near the first of the year, it’s best to do a last year retrospective. [Besides the past four weeks show too many chocolate chip cookies, which my two week long plateau also attests too.]

So what can I glean from this report.  The first is, I’m not very inventive when it comes to breakfast, the next 10 entries after the top-ten have five types of cereal, as a whole cereal is my number two favorite food, usually served with a cup of milk (because let’s face it water on cereal is just wrong!)

Second I’m not afraid of the dairy: milk, yogurt and cheese are good snack choices, fairly low calorie with the right mix of carbs and fats with a good dose of protein.  Eggs also show my preference for the breakfast foods, also with the number 10 entry of bacon, and what’s not to like about bacon. 

We eat a lot of mexican style dishes so the tortilla chips are not a surprise. Also when I don’t eat cereal peanut butter on a bagel thin is a good start to to the day.  So while I could beat myself up and say, “Yo! Jon, toss in a few veggies dude.”  I’m not going to, this chart actually shows a change in the past year of actually eating breakfast instead of skipping it, and having a nice dose of coffee (not tracked in lose it, though maybe I should) for breakfast.

I’d like to in the next year replace the soft white bread with a good whole wheat variety.  I’d like to have some sort of vegetable make it into the top ten snack foods over time (carrots, bell peppers, tomatoes).  There lies the rub, with variety comes less numbers in the total charts, so I’m sure I’ve upped my veggie portions this year, but they don’t show up because of variety.  Which is good, I guess.

So, gentle reader, this shows that a person can lose weight eating a sensible amount of the same foods you normally eat.  Now, get to logging and see what foods are in your top ten.

Categories: Life, Losing It Tags: , ,

I’m gonna celebrate, dammit!

December 9th, 2010 1 comment

Because 42 pounds lost was my goal, and I did it!image

That said, 42 was my initial goal, I’m not done yet!  And with all I’ve learned about that blasted trend line I’ve gotta keep up the momentum to have that trend weight get under the 300 mark (still will happen this month, so long as I keep drinking water!)

So while I wait for the trend to catch up to the scale, I’m considering my next steps, I have a wacky idea in mind, that should be a fun way to mix it up a bit in the next few months.  So stay tuned.

Meanwhile, a small soliloquy on why 42 pounds was my goal (despite the 43 stated in the above picture, I didn’t want to use a three-digit number starting with a 3 as a goal.).

I turned 42 last December.  I read Douglas Adams’ Hitchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy when I was in college, so I understand the significance of the number 42 being the ulitmate answer to life, the universe and everything. [Aside: the question being what is 6*9 merely a distraction, this universe’s question shall remain a mystery, see here).

In January my favorite television show LOST started it’s final season (something that should be blatantly obvious to my two readers, but I write to a larger audience!), which I progressed through in a state of joy and sadness.  At The End, I realized I needed something other than television (though I still love me some TV!) to be important in my life.  About the same time as LOST’s finale, my lovely and HAWT wife started on Weight Watchers, she asked me gently to do it with her, because trying to plan meals alone on the system was hard.  So I started Weight Watchers, and then after my free period expired, I started using LoseIt! Both of these programs give you a goal weight, which is a stumper.  All I really new back then was I didn’t want to be as heavy as I was, but as far as a discrete number… clueless.  So I fell back on the LOST numbers: 4, 8, 15, 16, 23, 42.  I chose the biggest, because with my initial weigh-in that would put me under 300 pounds.  No I’m looking at all the progress and trying to find a next big number… but I get ahead of myself, stay tuned!

Sometime after I started on controlling my calorie intake. [Aside: that sentence is a laborious way of avoiding the word “diet” – for which I want to avoid because so far I haven’t eliminated any food sources, just how much of the calories I ingest.] I also wanted to increase my calorie outtake.  So I started the Couch to 5K program, which gently guides a couch potato like I was into a somewhat steady runner.  I pegged a date to run a 5k in September, and was committed to getting that done.  I ran my first 5k in 42 (and a bit more) minutes.

See there is that number again.  42. I love the number 42!  The next jean waist size in my cross-hairs? You guessed it 42! (from a 48 mind you…)

So with hitting the 42 pounds gone, I’m gonna celebrate!

Now, where did I put my celery?

Categories: Life, Losing It Tags: , , , ,

Trends … Trends … Trends

October 26th, 2010 2 comments

Alternative title, garbage in – garbage out.  Or — Hey lookie, I think this might need to be adjusted.

Using LoseIt.com the over the last three months has enabled me to start spotting trends.  In my last diet number geek post, I lamented that might weight loss had hit a plateau and while still losing I wasn’t losing as quickly as I had.  I had changed systems from WeightWatchers to LoseIt, and had gone astray. The next three charts (from loseit.com) makes my point.

Read more…

Categories: Life, Losing It Tags: , , , ,