Wednesday, December 26, 2007

From last Friday...

Sorry, folks, I had a bit of a brain lapse last Friday and couldn't remember my password to login to my blog. So I wrote my post in a couple of emails. Here's what I had to say on Friday:

Friggin’ scale. Ragga schmagga. Friggin’ body that can’t handle a couple of handfuls of fudge and a plateful of Lil’ Smokies.

What’s all this grumbling about, you may ask? Well, I did my Friday morning weigh-in again today, and wasn’t too impressed by the results. I hop on the scale every Friday just after my workout (that ensures that I will have emptied the bowels). I wear pretty much the same exact outfit every week, and drink about half a bottle of water during my workout. I account for all the variables possible, so that hopefully the scale will reflect my “true” weight… or at least be consistent for comparison from week-to-week.

Anyhow, the previous two weeks I had weight losses (whoo hoo!). For those weeks I was really watching my caloric intake, shooting for ~1,500 calories/day intake, and about 2,100 output**. It’s not too hard to hit that number… but it definitely doesn’t leave any room for indulgence! But this week, I definitely indulged some… of course I splurged on the weekend like I usually do, but not too terribly bad. Then throughout the week I’ve admittedly had at least 2 pieces of fudge every day this week, plus filled up my plate with probably more than 1,500 calories of tasty niblets at yesterday’s Christmas potluck at work. But, I’ve also been working out hard and burning extra calories each day (see this week’s workouts, which yes, I stuck to—plus an hour of difficult Ashtanga yoga on Thursday).

So this morning when I stepped on the scale and it read 144.2—3.2 lbs more than last week—I was perturbed. Then disappointed. Then pissed. Then finally humbled. Humbled by the reality that I, a 5’1” woman with a relatively sedentary job, cannot consume calories like a 6’2” male with an all-day-active lifestyle. No matter how hard I workout for those 2 hours a day, I still don’t burn enough to be able to handle the quantities of cookies, candied yams, or saucy meatballs that I’d like to eat.

Crap! Why does such tasty stuff have to have such negative consequences?! It just doesn’t seem fair.

** If you’re interested in seeing how much you intake and output, there are several helpful websites out there. The one I really like is You can input your weight, gender, activity level, specific exercises, foods consumed, etc., and get good estimates of calories burned vs. calories eaten.

No, really. Could I really have consumed enough extra calories to have gained >3 lbs in a week? I crunched a few numbers (being the science geek that I am): One pound of body weight equates to 3,500 calories. So, for instance, to lose one pound in a week, a person needs to burn an extra 500 calories/day for 7 days. So to gain 3.2 lbs in a week, I would have needed to consume 11,200 calories more than what I burned.

What did I burn? Well, from different figure that I’ve found, a female of my size and age has a basal metabolic rate of about 1,400 calories/day (this assumes no activity, i.e. bedrest). On any given day, the efforts made just walking around the office, climbing up the stairs to my apartment, etc., add on at least 200 extra calories. Then I did the other aforementioned workouts throughout the week (all of which burned approx. 300-500 calories). So let’s be conservative and say that I burned an average of 2,000 calories/day for the 7 days.

Thus, I must’ve consumed 25,200 calories (using an average 2,000 burned a day plus the 11,200 extra). Now, to put this in perspective, an average meal at McDonald’s, consisting of a quarter-pounder with cheese, large fries, and a small chocolate shake, would equal 1,520 calories. So I could have had 16.6 of said meals in order to make up the 25,200 calories. Or, one piece (1 square inch) of chocolate fudge with nuts has approximately 100 calories. Ooh, so I could’ve had 2520 pieces of fudge. Or a crockpot of Lil’ Smokies with sauce has 2491 calories… okay, you get the point.

Uh, what was my point? I guess it’s that all of these fatty holiday-time foods are so good. But so bad. They pack a lot of extra calories, mostly in the form of fat (which, per gram, has 9 calories, versus the 4 calories you get from protein and carbohydrates). But I also am very skeptical about the scale’s version of what I did for the week, or with the math that says 1lb=3,500 calories. I mean, in order to gain those 3.2 lbs that the scale reported this morning, I would’ve had to have consumed 2,100 calories a day IN ADDITION to my normal 1,500 calories that I was eating last week (sample menu: berry/yogurt/protein smoothie for breakfast, apple for snack, spinach salad with boiled egg and fat-free dressing and a cup of butternut squash soup for lunch, handful of pretzels for snack, broiled halibut filet with wild rice and steamed broccoli for dinner, one quarter of a dark chocolate bar for dessert). So in addition to that, I could’ve had most of a crock-pot of Lil’ Smokies, or 2lbs of pork ribs, or the McD’s meal with a LARGE chocolate shake. Sorry, folks, but even though I pigged out some in the past few days, I really don’t think I did that much.

Which brings me to my final thesis… The Scale Isn’t The Best Gauge of Weight Loss or Fitness. There are so many more factors that go into a weight: water retention, what’s in my intestines, muscle mass, etc. I guess I’ll just have to keep weighing in weekly, but not worry so much about what the scale says. Now, if the pants start getting a little tight…

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