If you have a goal, you should have a plan on how to reach that goal, or that goal will remain nothing but an unreachable dream. This also applies to altering your body’s shape. My own body is overweight. The first step I took was to do research on why the body accumulates fat. In doing so I also learned a lot about how the human body functions. You can read all about this in the previous post.
“If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.” – Benjamin Franklin
Calories In vs. Calories Out
In my post, Weight vs. Shape I discuss how Calories can shape you. In my own personal situation, I have been over eating, meaning taking in too many Calories. These excess Calories were then stored as body fat. Now I have the task of balancing out my body’s energy use so that it uses up the body fat. This will allow me to slim down and become healthier.
Fridge vs Pantry
Fat cells are the body’s ‘pantry’, the place it stores the extra energy. While your digestive system is the body’s ‘refrigerator’. When you get home and you are hungry, the first place you usually look for food is the refrigerator right? It’s the easiest and fastest place to get food. If there is nothing in the refrigerator, you must go to the pantry to get ingredients to cook a meal.
Your body works in a similar fashion. It prefers to get energy from the easy to access Calories that you have just put into your digestive system first. If there is no energy there, or too little there, it will go to the ‘pantry’ where extra energy has been stored. If the pantry is empty though, it will get energy from where ever it can. After all, breathing and having your heart pump blood is very important!
To maintain your weight exactly where it is, you should eat the amount of food you need to provide your body energy for the day. In my situation, I have a very full ‘pantry’. This means to empty out the pantry, or use up the stored fat, I must make sure the fridge does not have enough to cover the energy needed for the day. In other words, I need to have a Calorie deficit.
My strategy for this is twofold. First, I am now paying attention to what I am eating. This means I am keeping track of the number of Calories I am taking into my body. The second part, is looking at how many Calories I am burning each day. The number of Calories I am using every day, should be more than the amount I am eating. This in theory means that my body will start making use of the stored-up energy (fat) to make up the difference.
Tracking Calories In
Keeping track of what you eat can play a big role in helping you lose weight. There are several studies done that suggest keeping a food diary can help you lose up to twice as much weight.
A lot of use will often eat without even realising what we are doing. Have you ever sat down in front of the T.V. with a packet of crisps for example? You would be enjoying the show when suddenly the packet is empty. Tracking how many Calories you take in will instantly help make you more aware of your eating habits.
For more information on the benefits of a food diary you can read these articles:
- Can a Food Diary Help You Lose Weight?
- How Keeping Track of Eating Can Help Participants with Weight Loss
I make use of the free service from MyFitnessPal. They have a large food database which makes tracking Calories fast and easy. A search function allows you to look up the food you want add to your meals for the day. If it isn’t in the database, there is also an option to add your own entry.
Tracking Calories Out
As I mentioned in the Weight vs Shape post, your body needs a certain number of Calories every day just to take care of all that it does, like breathing, digesting food, pumping blood etc. The number of Calories you burn while at rest (if you did nothing but sleep all day for example) is called your Basal Metabolic Rate or BMR. It is also commonly called a person’s metabolism.
As with your BMI, your BMR is calculated using your gender, age, height, and current weight. It is based on averages though, and is only an estimate. Each person will likely vary from the average a little. Some online BMR Calculators can help you get an idea of your body’s basic daily calorie burn:
Exercise is the main method of Calorie outputs that you have control over. To move around physically requires your muscles to burn energy. The more physical activities you do, the more Calories you burn.
But, don’t be fooled! You cannot eat irresponsibly and hope to just exercise it all away. It takes a lot of time and effort just to burn the Calorie value of one unhealthy meal away. Your muscles also need time to rest and recover. Exercising for many hours every single day is not realistic. Unless you are a fitness instructor who has studied the human body and this is your job of course. But then I doubt you would be eating unhealthy meals!
Don’t misunderstand, I think exercise is very important. It helps to build a beautiful toned, healthy body. But it is only one part of the whole.
How much energy you burn while you exercise will vary with the type of exercise and its intensity. The other factors that will influence how many calories you burn include age, gender, and current weight.
The MET or Metabolic Equivalent Task is one of the easier methods of determining how much energy you burned while doing a specific activity. One MET is the energy you expend at rest while two METs means you are using twice the energy you would be using at rest. You can find a list with a few examples of activities and their equivalent METs on topendsports.com.
MyFitnessPal has inbuilt exercise calculator that you can use to track Calories burned with each exercise done. You simply need to enter the exercise type and how many minutes you spent doing it. There are also many other exercise apps available that will do the same. If you don’t want to use an app, freedieting.com will allow you to calculate it online.
Benefits of Exercise
We all know that exercises good for your overall health, not just for weight control. There are many studies that show how exercising reduces your risk to get certain diseases such as diabetes and cancer. But as a Living Doll, there are important benefits to exercising.
The boost in circulation that exercise gives you has great benefits for your skin. It helps get extra nutrients to your skin and help eliminate those nasty toxins. Exercise also boosts oxygen to the skin which helps increase the natural production of collagen. Collagen is the stuff that helps your skin to be elastic and looking young.
Exercise will help your body look better. It also helps reduce stress and improves your mood. Stress can sometimes cause your skin to break out, or make you crave unhealthy foods. If you look better and feel better, your self-confidence will also gradually start to increase.
When you exercise, you build muscle density. More muscle means more energy burned, even when you are resting. Which means you can have that cupcake at the tea party guilt free!
Want to know more about the benefits of exercise? Here are some links with some extra reading:
- How Regular Exercise Benefits Teens
- 9 Amazing Benefits of Exercise
- 13 Mental Health Benefits Of Exercise
Realistic Weight Expectations
One of the big reasons people fail in their weight loss journey is because they have unrealistic expectations. To reach your weight goal is not something that can happen overnight. It is not something that will even happen in a week. It is going to take a lot of time and dedication. In the end, a healthier, more beautiful doll, will be well worth the journey.
There are two things you should also keep in mind on your journey. If you are aware of them, you are less likely to be disheartened when you encounter them:
- Your weight will fluctuate throughout the day. A fluctuation of 1kg (2.2 pounds) is normal. Many factors influence this fluctuation, from how much water you drink, the kinds of food you eat, how many times you visit the bathroom and even your hormone levels.
- Muscle weighs more than fat. When you incorporate more physical movement into your day, you will build up some muscle tone. So, the weight scale may stay at the same number or even go higher when you start out. Don’t panic! A more accurate way to measure your progress would be to measure centimetres or inches lost around your belly for example. Or to get a scale that measures the percentages of body fat and muscle as mentioned in the previous post.
Slow and Steady Wins the Weight Race
By now you have learned that having a Calorie deficit every day is what you need for your body to start making use of those fat stores in the pantry and you to slim down. It may be very tempting to try and go for the maximum weight loss as quickly as possible, but I honestly don’t recommend this.
If you make your daily Calorie deficit too large, it can be difficult to keep it up. You will be more prone to feeling hungry and in a bad mood, you may feel like you have no energy to get anything done. You may even end up binge eating unhealthy food when you give into that hunger.
Eating too little Calories every day can also put your body into starvation mode, where it will start using your muscles for fuel as well. It also means that when you do it, your body will think it may be ages before I get food again, and store as much of it as possible as fat reserves. Exactly the opposite of what you want!
One Small Change at a Time
Habits and mindsets that have been there for years will be difficult to change and maintain all in one go. Start by changing one small habit. It may not seem like much but those small changes will quickly start to add up. For example, if you normally drink four cans of soda a day, start by substituting out one of those four cans with a glass of water. Do that for a week, and then the following week, replace another can of soda with a glass of water. After two weeks, you will already be drinking half the soda you used to.
The right amount of Calories for Weight Loss
So, by now you are wondering what is the number of calories you should be eating to achieve weight loss. Which foods are healthy and which are not? I would like to direct you to two very useful articles I found which should answer all these questions and more.
- Caloric Deficit To Lose Weight – Setting Your Calorie Intake For Weight Loss
- How Many Calories Should I Eat Per Day To Lose Weight & Lose Fat?
This has been the general guideline for what I have been using to slim down and it has been working well for me (provided I stick to it).
Remember to always be kind to yourself and that even dolls can occasionally slip up. It’s not the end of the world, tomorrow is a new day, a chance to start fresh again. Believe in yourself and work towards your dreams.