By the time you read this either you’re keeping your New Year’s Resolutions or you’re still negotiating with yourself to get back to them. If those resolutions included eating healthier, eating fresher foods and eating fewer calories, I’ve got great news for you. It’s never been easier.
To achieve fat loss through healthy eating it’s smart to learn about calories. I promise it’s easy. Here’s the scoop. Like a teaspoon or a mile, a calorie is a unit of measure. They are, contrary to what sort of makes sense, an evil force that makes a pair of favorite jeans get tighter. A calorie is a unit used in measuring the amount of energy food provides when eaten and digested. This fuel is glycogen and body fat.
Even when you’re sleeping you’re using calories. When you’re active, say riding a bike or hiking, the food substances that are ingested degrade in a series of reactions that release energy and transform it into movement and heat. It might sound complex, but trust me, you’ve been doing it since before you were born. It’s easy.
Problems occur when we humans expend less energy than the amount of calories we’re taking into our bodies and using. The result? Increased body fat. After about age 30, it often feels like everything we eat turns to fat. The truth? It’s because many adults become less active. That doesn’t need to be so and if you’re determined to lose three or thirty pounds, then exercise needs to be in that equation, too, because you’ll use more calories when you kick up your activities.
Depending on the intensity, you can burn a few or many calories. For instance a 150-pound woman, sleeping uses 55 calories per hour which is about the total calories in a slice of plain bread. Walking at a comfortable pace of three-miles-an-hour uses 280 calories an hour about, the equivalent to a turkey sandwich, hold the mayo. Spinning or cycling at the gym uses nearly 650 calories an hour, about what you’d consume with a take-out hamburger and some fries. If ones weighs less, fewer calories are needed to maintain that status. If one weighs more, more calories are required. More so, those who have more muscle to fat ratio use more calories.
While we can get caught up in the calorie “thing,” the trick to being stronger, having tons of energy and bursting with endurance is to understand that exercise alone isn’t the ticket to weight loss. Weight loss happens by increasing activity and selecting a sensible eating plan that fits a person’s life and goals.
Since all that we do, including sleeping uses calories even little changes can make a big difference. For instance, selecting a plain cup of coffee or lightened with low-fat milk over the big fluffy coffees loaded with whip cream is an obvious choice. Just take note of what you are eating. Hence, that whipped cream laden coffee drink can supply over 400 calories next to plain coffee that as zero. To use 400 calories you’d have to do vigorous water aerobics for an hour or three hours of office work.
Make simple changes and forget about having to diet. How about using mustard over mayo? Having salad dressings served on the side? Enjoying a vegetarian or vegan day once a week? Selecting beans, grains and low-fat meat, fish and poultry? Splurging on exotic and perfectly ripened fruit over desserts?
Then make walking a habit to help you achieve your goals. If you walk an hour each day, especially now that it’s staying a bit lighter in the evenings, and eat the number of calories your body needs, you will achieve weight loss. I told you it was simple. Make the calorie your new BFF as you stay fit for life.
Sheila Cluff, fitness expert, motivational speaker, master figure skater and owner of The Oaks at Ojai, is the author of her newly released and inspiring autobiography “Living Your Dream,” “Sit, Strengthen & Stretch,” a book of nine simple exercises that can be done at your desk and proven to increase flexibility and core strength, and “Take 5: How You Can Benefit from Just Five Minutes of Daily Exercise.”