Monday, April 11, 2011

Calories, cont.

Let me preface this post by saying this: there are few things I am more loath to do than maneuver my mind around anything beyond the simplest arithmetic operation. For me, I’d say “doing the math” falls somewhere between getting a  pelvic exam and parallel parking…and reinforcing stereotypical gender norms.
The mere sight of two or more numerical figures closed within a set of parentheses is enough to spike my heart rate. Faced with an atypical fraction, I’m immediately transported back to Algebra I.(That Mrs. Popely, with her bulbous, pore-riddled, pink-with-constant-rage nose – if one’s proboscis is independently capable of pointing at someone with despotic command, even with a hint of smug condescension, hers surely
did. It haunts me still.)

Anyway, all this just to say that, while we are about to wade through some figures and formulas, fear not. This math is easy peasy, and once we get through the nitty gritty numbers, we can move on to the fun stuff.

As you may recall, earlier in the week I stressed the importance of counting calories and tracking your intake. This, however, will be a meaningless exercise if you have no clue as to what your target caloric range is in the first place. So, how do you know how many calories you need to maintain or lose weight? First, figure out your BMR (basal metabolic rate), a base number that represents the number of calories you burn without moving a (voluntary) muscle. Indeed, you burn the majority of your calories simply by living, breathing, and being the wonderful you that you are.

Here’s how you roughly determine your BMR:

Women: BMR = 655 + ( 4.35 x weight in pounds ) + ( 4.7 x height in inches ) - ( 4.7 x age in years )
Men: BMR = 66 + ( 6.23 x weight in pounds ) + ( 12.7 x height in inches ) - ( 6.8 x age in year )

Now, onward! Once you’ve figured out your BMR, plug that number into one of these forumulas, depending on your level of physical activity. These are  your estimated daily calorie needs:
  • For those who are sedentary (little to no physical activity): BMR x 1.2
  • For those who are lightly active (light exercise/sports 1-3 days/week): BMR x 1.375
  • For those who are moderately active (moderate exercise/sports 3-5 days/week): BMR x 1.55
  • For those who are very active (hard exercise/sports 6-7 days/week): BMR x 1.725
  • For those who are crazy active (very hard exercise/sports + physical job or training twice a day): BMR x 1.9
If you’re trying to lose weight, do it slowly. Remember that a weekly deficit of 3,500 calories (an average of -500 calories per day) will result in one dropped pound per week.
A combo of less calories in through food/more calories out through exercise is ideal.

Whew – pencils down. Now you’re primed to start setting goals and planning your meals and snacks. Keep yourself honest by jotting down how much you ate and track your progress to stay on track. Before you balk at the idea of putting so much time and energy into planning your diet, may I suggest shopping around for some new accessories to help
get you inspired.

Find journals, calendars, lunch accoutrement, and enviable grocery gear (supermarket chic?) for a motivating kick in your soon-to-be-looser pants. I invite you to check out some personal top picks.

At the grocery store, one woman’s produce aisle is another woman’s runway. I mean, you can’t blame people for checking out your celery stalks when they’re peeking out of a reusable bag from EnviroSax. Scope out their organic series, too. Alternatively, go for a more naturally-effortless vibe with
a cotton string bag.
For a packed lunch, I’m sorry, but how cool are these Rebel Green lunch bags?? AND they’ve got reusable napkins! Pack up your soups, sandwiches, and salads in these versatile and BPA-free containers from Preserve.
For grocery lists and menu planning, try eco-friendly Night Owl Paper Goods’ “jotters” or Urban Outfitters’ special spin on kitchen tearpads.

For calorie tracking and general musings, check out super-cool, dirt-cheap Red Horseshoe pocket notebooks, go for the fancier Orla Kiely offerings , or stick with the classic Moleskine.

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