Small Changes, Big Results

One of the most common misconceptions that I continually encounter as a personal trainer is that the only way to lose weight, individuals must greatly alter their entire livelihood. Several individuals seem to believe they have to make radical cuts in daily caloric intake, while making radical increases in the amount of their daily physical exercise.

While the “calories in/calories out” concept makes the most sense and research repeatedly supports the approach, individuals must remain cognizant of the detrimental effects that may arise when it is applied to an unhealthy extreme.

What do I mean by “unhealthy extreme”? First, take into consideration the Estimated Energy Requirement (EER), which is a rough estimate of the daily caloric intake for each individual determined by factors, such as height, weight, age, gender and physical activity level. For example, if your EER were 2500 Calories per day, in theory, you would remain at your current weight if you made no changes to your activity level and ate around 2500 Calories per day. Therefore, if you were to make a slight reduction to your daily caloric intake and increase activity levels, in theory, you would lose weight. An example of an “unhealthy extreme” would be cutting caloric intake in half and doubling activity levels.

What makes such radical changes to caloric intake and physical activity levels so dangerous is that it leaves you vulnerable to injury and nutritional deficiencies, thus leading to adverse effects.

So, does this mean that making more conservative changes to intake and output are recommended? Yes! Instead of making radical changes to your diet, such as those you may have seen on TV shows, such as Biggest Loser, reducing intake by as little as 300 Calories and adding a 30-minute walk to your daily routine, that equates to a reduction of around 500 Calories from the EER. In theory, this 500 Calorie reduction, if upheld every day of the week, adds up to 3500 Calories, which is approximately one pound. If you are a dog owner, take ol’ Rover out for a stroll, and he will love you even more. Don’t have a dog? You can call your local humane society and volunteer to walk one, or a couple, of their dogs. If you are not much of a dog person, try out walking to the grocery store, instead of driving; of course, you might just want to do this on days where you only have a few items that need to be picked up.

Disclaimer time! I hope you noticed that I repeatedly used the words “estimated”, “about”, “around”, “approximately”, “in theory” and so on; this is because human beings are not machines. In a NASCAR race, crew teams are afforded enough data about their car’s performance and fuel efficiency, in which, calculations can be made during the race for the crew chief to confidently make the call to his driver to pull into pit road or finish the race without refueling. Unfortunately, the human body is not as predictable as an automobile; some people are naturally blessed with genetics that permit them to eat anything they want without gaining a pound, while others pack on the pounds, even if they ate from the same meal plan and exercised exactly as much as the “genetically gifted” person. Yes, that does suck, but by maintaining a positive mindset and continuing to push through with a healthy eating and exercise regimen, the odds of losing weight will improve.

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