Monday, November 16, 2009

The Nuts and Bolts of Weight Loss

“A man's health can be judged by which he takes two at a time - pills or stairs.”~Joan Welsh

Weight loss is not the only criteria for health, but it is one of the most important. While some may say it is possible to be overweight and healthy, no one will say it is better than being fit and healthy for many reasons, from increased quality of life to lower health risks overall (and all the other reasons I discussed previously).

There is no secret to weight loss and fitness. I can (and will) give you hints to make losing weight easier and to help you keep motivated in future posts, but there is only one thing that goes on in your body that creates these changes and there is not much that can alter the process. It is the same for all of us. It is calorie intake and calorie burning. Simple as that.

Here is the explanation:
1 pound = 3,500 calories

If you can remember that equation, then you understand all there is to know about weight loss. The goal is to have a deficit of about 500 calories a day. In a week, you will lose about a pound (500 X 7 = 3,500 calories). I actually advocate about 2,600 calories a week which is about 2/3 of a pound so you do not get burnt out. I will explain a relatively simple plan to meet this weekly 2,600 calorie reduction in future posts.

Here is a silly analogy to help explain how calorie deficits works:
Pretend you are a car. Your owner (maybe your brain, hands, and mouth working in conjunction) fills you full of gas (food/calories) to keep you running. When you put too much gas in, your body saves that extra gas for later (fat). When you use up all the gas you put in and you still need more fuel, the car starts to eat itself and shrinks. If you are a big truck, you will become a little festiva. The faster you go during the day (activity), the faster you burn through your gas. Now obviously cars do not shrink, but we do and that is the remarkable thing about the human body.

It can go in both directions, and unfortunately it is very easy to shove a pound in our mouths (one fast food meal can easily exceed 3,500 calories and be eaten in 5 to 10 minutes), but it can take two days to burn that amount of calories. Let's leave that for a later discussion though.

Always remember that one pound is equivalent to 3,500 calories and you can make small but important choices to slowly and safely lose weight. As stated above, I will tell you how to achieve a safe and slow but consistent calorie deficit in the next post.

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