Lasting weight loss and lifelong fitness is a constant concern in everyone’s life. No one wants to ‘yo-yo’ diet. No one wants to wake up one morning and say, “Where did all this weight come from and how am I ever going to get rid of it?” To avoid these disappointing feelings, it takes careful thought and deliberate action, not just for a few weeks or months, but everyday of our lives.
Essential Strategy #1- Know Your Body
We fall into a trap, partly by fault of our crazed society, of believing we need a magic pill, potion, or gadget to shed weight and gain health. Meanwhile, the integral pieces of a fit lifestyle are the simplest. First of all, you should have a basic idea of how your body works and what it needs.
Everyone knows what type of gas to put in their car, when to put it in, and how much it takes. Same with our bodies. We need to know what type of food to put in it, when to put it in, and how much it needs. Food is fuel for our bodies. It gives us energy for everything from breathing to exercising. Looking at food from this perspective can change our attitudes towards it.
Your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) is a formula that estimates how many calories your body needs to just be alive. By knowing and understanding your BMR you can gain insight into what your individual body needs.
EDIT: Put your calculator away! The following is the basis for how this stuff is calculated, but who really needs to know how to do math when we have computers to do it for us! Check out this BMR Calculator from the Mayo Clinic. I like it because it has the activity multiplier built in, but the results show you your entire range. Remember, these calculators are not exact, but if you have no clue how many calories you should be getting, this is a pretty good estimate.
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 years)
For example, if we have a 33 year old, 5’5” female who is 140 pounds, this is what would result:
BMR = 655 + (4.35 x 140) + (4.7 x 65) – (4.7 x 33)
Get your calculator out and do the stuff inside the parenthesis first.
BMR = 655 + 609 + 305.5 – 155.1
BMR = 1,414.4
This basically means that if this person did nothing but sleep all day, she would need about 1,414 calories. Hopefully no one is just sleeping all day, so to make it applicable to our daily lives, we use an activity multiplier.
Sedentary (little or no exercise): BMR x 1.2
Lightly active (light exercise/sports 1-3 days/week): BMR x 1.375
Moderately active (moderate exercise/sports 3-5 days/week): BMR x 1.55
Very active (hard exercise/sports 6-7 days a week): BMR x 1.725
Extra active (very hard exercise/sports & physical job or 2x training): BMR x 1.9
Let’s say our example girl goes to the gym about 3 days per week. We would take her BMR and multiply it by 1.375 for light exercise.
1,414 x 1.375 = 1,944.8
1,945 calories is what our example girl needs in order to maintain her current weight at her current activity level. If she is trying to lose weight, she would want to cut that number by about 200, bringing her daily caloric needs down to about 1,745.
Do you know how many calories your body needs? Do you know how many calories you eat per day? These are essential questions to ask yourself in order to achieve lasting weight loss and lifelong fitness.
Essential Strategy #2- Be Active
Nobody is asking you to do a triathlon (click here if triathlons intrigue you!), but it is crucial that you keep your body moving. Just by taking the stairs, parking farther away, or walking for 30 minutes during your lunch break, you will be doing your body tons of good. Keeping your joints moving and your blood flowing can make a positive difference in your quality of life.
Essential Strategy #3- Eat Clean
Remember the old saying, ‘You are what you eat’? It’s true. Putting fast food, high fat food, or food that barely qualifies as food into your body will do it no good. Your body was designed to eat real food. Fruits, vegetables, whole wheat, vitamins, and minerals are what your body craves to work efficiently and feel it’s best.
So drop the fad diets and ignore the flashy advertising. Get to know your body and give it the care that it deserves. Make this an everyday habit and put yourself on the path to lasting weight loss and lifelong fitness.