For the last few months I have been eating between 1,600 and 1,800 calories each day. I would have to say that over 99% of what I have eaten during this time would be considered to be extremely healthy by most people (check out a slide show of my food diary for January). During this time I have also started (and changed) my strength training routine.
Even with doing all of the typical healthy things associated with weight loss and overall health, my weight has not changed much in the last 3 months (I’ve lost about 7 lbs during that stretch). So even though I don’t use the scale to decide whether I’ve had a good week or month, I do use it as a tool in getting healthy.
How I Use The Scale
I weigh myself multiple times a day, mostly for fun. However, I also take note of the overall direction of the scale over time. If I am doing everything right and I my weight isn’t moving toward a more healthy number, that is a sign of something going wrong. I usually look in two places.
First, I will check to make sure that I haven’t incorrectly measured anything. This includes my BMR, daily/weekly activity level or anything else that I use to estimate both my maintenance calories as well as how large of a caloric deficit I will need in order to hit my goals.
I also take a look at my meals and my measuring methods to ensure that I am not underestimating the amount of calories that I am actually taking in each day. I think that many people underestimate the amount of food they put on their plate (a “cup” is usually a lot more than a cup unless you measure it) and because of this, they aren’t really in a caloric deficit.
The goal here is to rule out the fact that I am not eating at my maintenance level with out even realizing it.
If I knew for certain that I was taking in an adequate amount of calories, while still being in a deficit, then I would seek medical help. The first thing that usually comes to mind when someone has trouble losing weight and it’s not tied to their lifestyle, is their thyroid.
Hormone production plays a huge part in our body’s ability to burn fat, and also its inclination to store fat. I am not at this point yet since, as you will see below, I have a change that still needs to be made to my current routine.
Here’s What I Discovered
I put myself in a huge deficit – between 1,000 and 1,200 calories per day! There is a point where you can eat so few calories in relation to your maintenance level, that your metabolism actually begins to slow down in order to preserve tissue. Your body will become more efficient, needing less energy to carry out daily functions, meaning that you will not burn as many calories as you would in a normal state.
I entered some information into my calorie tracking app and set it to where I would purposely be in that large of a deficit. I honestly didn’t think my body was burning that many calories, so I was fine with the number. Now that I have been following my routine perfectly and still am not seeing a weight loss, I know that it is time for a change.
Instead of going with the number that my calorie tracking app gave me, I decided to use a stand-alone calorie calculator to determine my maintenance level. I used the calculator at freedieting.com to come up with this number. I will talk about the complete process on Monday and tell you why I’ve decided on the number that I did.
My New Daily Calorie Intake
I am going to work my way up to having 2,300 calories each day, but I think this is the right thing for my body. I will still concentrate on getting enough of certain nutrients (protein, fat, and fiber), and I will probably fill in a good majority of the remaining calories with carbs.
It’s going to take a little time to get used to this, since my routine was pretty set regarding my food. I am still doing intermittent fasting, so now I have to do a better job of eating at work, so I’m not stuck trying to eat 1,200-1,500 calories once I get home.
Again, I will show you what the calculator estimated for me, as well as what my daily macronutrient targets are on Monday.
photo credit: _chrisUK
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