Thursday, 16 February 2012

The Losing Weight Journey: Back to basics? Weight Worries Wednesday

'You don't need to lose any weight' is what most of the lovely people who know me on twitter and in real life will tell me. What people don't know is that my weight has been creeping up slowly and steadily for the past year and half and this has made me very uncomfortable. I don't remember the last time I bought clothes for work. Other than the odd cardigan bought by mail order, I think the last time I bought some trousers for work was 2 years ago. Weight gain, coupled with a unfortunate pear shape making it a nightmare to purchases trousers which fit properly has made me avoid the shops at all costs.


There is only 1 pair of trousers which fit me now (a hideous pair of dark very stretchy jeans which would make Simon Cowell look like he's wearing low cut hipsters) which I wear every single day at work, no fail. I have officially entered the overweight zone according to my BMI and I can't fool myself anymore: I need to take action, stick to a diet, regain some self esteem, and like myself again.

I won't bore you today with the details of my diet. I don't know if there will be other episodes of my Weight Worries Wednesday series (Wednesday tends to be the day when my willpower fades and I vandalise the corner shop) but today I wanted to share with you a little something. A little something which has motivated my colleague in her weight loss journey, and who has proudly managed to lose 3 stones in the past 6 months. The secret to her weight loss?

The good old calorie counting way and a certain formula

We all know if we eat more than what our body needs to function, we will put on weight. How much does our body actually need? How many calories can one eat to lose weight? Can the typical 1200 calories limit apply to us all? Where does this 1200 calories limit come from anyway? You might already all know about this formula. I didn't, so I thought maybe some of you might not either and that it might (or not) inspire you.

My friend has been using the Harris Benedict formula (which I like to call the 'Eggs Benedict' Formula) based on her BMR number and it has worked wonders for her. The Harris Benedict formula is not a diet, it's a nifty equation which helps you to calculate exactly, according to your height, age, activity and gender how many calories you can eat to maintain, lose or even increase your weight.

1) First of all, you need to know your BMR number. BMR, for the non initiated stands for Basal Metabolic Rate, or 'the number of calories you'd burn if you stayed in bed all day'.
2) Once you know your BMR, you need to know your Daily Calorie Needs. This is where the Harris Benedict Equation comes into play.
3) Once you know your daily calorie needs, and if you want to lose weight in a ‘sustainable’ way the guideline is to reduce your calories by at least 500, a day.

- So, to
calculate your BMR, you just need to enter 4 values (height, weight, age, gender) on the webpage here
- Armed with your BMR number, you can
calculate your daily calories needs using the Harris Benedict formula here
- Then, to lose weight, just substract 500 from your daily calories needs number.

Because I am quite small in height, that I am not so young, and that my idea of exercise is taking a bus instead of taxi, my daily calorie needs is 1650. In other words, I can eat 1650 to maintain my weight. However, if I wanted to lose weight, without increasing my exercise, I wouldn't be able to eat more than 1150 calories. Bang, that's where your infamous 1200 calories come from.

It was quite a comforting thought for me to know that at my current weight, I could, in theory, not put on weight if I ate as much as 1650 calories. It also made me despair at my height. Had I been 6 foot, I could have been getting away with a lot more calories. The 'Eggs Benedict' formula finally made understand in practical terms how my metabolism slows down as I age, and also made me realise how much of a nightmare it would be to stick to very slim figure, as I was able to put in different values in and imagine different scenarios. Sadly, it won't help put food into my gob but has comforted me in many ways and opened to my eyes more than ever to the necessity of exercise really.

Please forgive me if this has totally bored you.

Finally, I would like to end this back-to-basics post with a little anecdote. Mc Donalds, as you know, have changed their menus dramatically, in the sense that they have been providing us with exact amount of calories their food is bringing and how it fits in the whole scheme of things. For them, the whole scheme of things and the average calories need of a female is 2000 calories. Using the Harris Benedict equation, I've found that only a 18 year old female, measuring 5ft7, and weighing 12st9 can get away 2000 calories to maintain her weight. Not so your very average woman, huh?    

Are you on a diet at the moment?
Are you watching your calorie intake?
Were you pleasantly surprised by how many calories you can eat after playing around with the HB formula?


Anonymous said...
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Cherry Loves said...

Calorie counting is only thing that works for me, though I always give up. Feel same as you that I just want to get back in my clothes I wore a year or two ago. I tend to use fitness pal app to help me :)

Jade. said...

this hasnt bored me at all!!! I can apparently eat 2050 calories and lose weight, i might put this to the test! Great post liloo! xx

Fee - Makeup Savvy said...

This was so interesting. I am back diet as of this week as like you my weight has slowly crept on and I haven't done anything about it except feel crap about it! But no more!

I worked out my Egg Benedict number and I apparently need roughly 1300 ish calories a day. But to be honest when I an on a diet I eat around 600-1000 calories a day and then I lose 2-4 a week. I'm not one for doing the '1lb a week - YAY me' kind of diet.

I really do hope you keep us all updated as your posts are always so interesting and honest to read. I really do love them.

Hope your dieting goes well.

Fee xx

Evelyn. said...

Oh same, i despire trouser shopping because i never find anything that fits over my thighs or gives me muffin tops. Im not overweight (BMI 24) but i am definitely squishy and could do with less of me! i really feel for you, it's an awful feeling.
I use to count calories. it's like facebook for fat people. it's great! they have a free ipnone app too!

Georgia said...

Oooo I'm gonna work this out when I'm back from work :). Thanks


Sian said...

I love your mcdonalds calculation at the end! I'm the same, my weight has gradually been creeping up over the last year and a bit and I hate it. I'm going to work out my eggs benedict allowance later xx

Sian said...

Oh bums, my daily calorie needs is 1598 so that would be 1098 to lose weight, that's a bit too low isnt it! xx

Ms Bubu said...

Thank you for that. I am starting to lose weight. Would love to see a regular post on it. Thank you!

dinoprincesschar said...

i've never heard of this, so am off to put in my details now and see what it has to say :)

Chloe Likes To Talk said...

Wishing you good luck with this if it's what you want. The only flaw I see with the Benedict theory- if you've calculated you burn around 1600 calories per day with your BMR/activities etc, then if you stuck with eating at 1600, you wouldn't maintain your current weight, you'd lose weight because if you're overweight you must be consuming more than you need to, to function as per your BMR calculations.

I'm quite lucky in some respects, I run a fair bit, which means I could in theory, eat what I like and I'm also trying to gain weight at the moment because of an illness, but I've also battled to lose weight before and for me, I think the easiest thing is to try and make small sustainable changes that don't focus on a calorie count. But everybody;s different and I guess it's a case of finding what works for you.

Hope you keep us updated on how you're finding it.

KittyBonkers said...

Oooooo, I think I may use this, though I do loath calorie counting. According to this formula, to lose weight, I need to be taking in 1500 calories. Hmmmm, I am sure I can do that without too much counting, just cut down on all the rubbish I eat haha! This was an interesting read, thank you for it!! I should really exercise more too, once a week isn't nearly enough!

Kitty xoxox

Lucy - Beauty and the Blogger said...

I'm doing the south beach diet which is low carb, low sugar and low fat - it's definately made a difference to me as everything I ate was carb heavy before and I've lost nearly a stone. It's not been easy - I love carbs - but I can put up with it 90% of the time to be happy with how I look, it's kind of changed how I look at eating. One on my friends lost quite a lot of weight just from rethinking her eating habits and stopping carbs after 5pm. Carbs is key for me, but calories can work too.

Good luck!

DresdenFae said...

Good luck! Weight loss journeys are tough, I lost 35 lbs last year calorie counting and exercising. I've gained some of it back, but am working on it!

Just one thing, 1200 calories isn't an arbitrary number. It's the minimum you can eat with a hope of getting all the nutrients your body needs. If you eat less than 1200 a day you might make your body think its starving. When your body goes into starvation mode it holds on to every lbs that it can and your weight loss speed slows down.

Viktoria said...

Good luck :) I used My Fitness Pal to lose 19lb and my sister has lost 3 stone. The app is great.xx

Menia said...

I just can't count calories, but I have managed to lose some weight with a specific nutrition programme and intense workout. I am still working on it of course and have a long way in front of me but I am determined to make it!!
Good luck!!!

jaljen said...

I'm on Zoe Harcombe. It works brilliantly for me. Not calorie-counting.

My blood pressure is lower and I have so much more energy!

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