'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?