Do you know your calorie setpoint?

by Christine on March 1st, 2011

filed under Christine's Life Updates, Exercise

Good morning Revolutionists!

Yesterday I sat down and tracked all my food intake that I consumed over the weekend, and I was surprised that I was within 10 calories all three days (Friday, Saturday, and Sunday).  My average was about 910 calories. I know I have mentioned this a thousand times before on my blog, but let me say it again: if you are trying to lose weight, it’s incredibly important to track all your food consumption, every day. You can identify trends, areas of weakness, analyze your food types, pinpoint times of day that you have problems, etc. I have been journaling my food for years—at this point it comes naturally to me, and that’s probably why all three days were essentially the same calories without even trying.

Now that I have entered into “Weight Maintenance Mode (WMM),” I am trying to learn what it takes to successfully maintain my weight. It’s a very different mindset than trying to lose weight, and it’s hard because I don’t necessarily know what the secret ingredient is to ensure that I don’t put the weight back on.

For instance, I learned that for my body, I lost weight slowly but steadily when I ate approximately 800 calories per day. Previously, I know that my “Calorie Setpoint” (the calories you need to maintain your weight) was around 1000 calories. However, I’ve lost over 100 pounds, so it’s only natural to assume that my Calorie Setpoint has been lowered.

I’ve maintained my current weight for a few weeks now, and if I’m eating 910 calories a day, I think it’s fair to assume that 910 calories is my new Calorie Setpoint. This surprises me that my setpoint has gone down as low as it has. I think part of the reason for that is that I have not been exercising very much in the last two months, thereby lowering my metabolism and also requiring less food to keep my body fueled.

Why is it so important to know your body’s Calorie Setpoint? Well, if you are trying to lose weight, if you know what your Setpoint is, then all you have to do is lower your calorie intake by a mere 10%, and voila, I can almost garauntee that you’ll lose weight! Now it’s important to point out that everyone’s Calorie Setpoint is totally different. Mine—900 apparently—is very low, much lower than average, and I don’t recommend that anyone use that as a starting point for figuring out their own Setpoint. However, I think the fact that mine is so low is an interesting point. For years I had a very hard time losing weight on my own, even though I exercised regularly and watched what I ate very carefully. It turns out I was eating too much. I assumed that the doctor’s charts, that said I should eat 1200-1500 calories per day were just blatantly wrong for me. Looking back, it’s no wonder I gained weight when I was eating so much!

[Interesting sidenote: Apparently "Set Point Theory" is a real scientific theory that has been analyzed. And here I thought I made the term up myself! Read more at MIT Medical or at the Journal of Metabolic Syndrome and Disorders.]

I have also noticed that I’ve been feeling sluggish and tired the last few weeks, since starting my new job. So yesterday I decided that it was time to amp up my exercise. Now, I can’t say that I have not been doing any exercise at all: I’ve gone downhill skiing a few times, and snowshoeing, too. However, since starting this job, I rarely get any exercise in during the week. It’s time to change that and get a little bit of exercise back into my routine. Yesterday I hit the gym. It was more important that I get into the habit of going than it was to actually break a sweat and rev up my heart rate, so I just grabbed a stationary bicycle and read a book for 45 minutes. I’m proud that I went; it wasn’t easy to pry myself off the couch and go.

I also went tanning, in the hopes of boosting my energy. I have a vacation planned in April, and I wouldn’t mind being tan for that. However, tanning is really more for the energy, for me. I notice that I have far more energy after I go tanning. I think it’s one of the side effects of living in the Northeast during the wintertime. I can already tell a difference today; I woke up extra early today to take my husband to work, and I’m not sleepy at all. I think the tanning + exercise combo is good for me.

Today I am going to pre-plan my food intake to ensure that I get the right amount of calories and maximum amount of nutrition. Are you going to pre-plan your food intake, too?

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Week updates and pics

by Christine on July 30th, 2010

filed under Christine's Life Updates, Diet, Food, Nutrition, General Information

Howdy Revolutionists! The weekend is upon us, at last! How are you going to celebrate this lovely summer weekend?

I am celebrating by going to not one, but two wedding celebrations! The celebrations are for the same couple: they are getting married on Friday (tonight) with a small ceremony and then having a big, informal, outdoor picnic for many guests on Saturday. I can’t wait to see them get hitched at last! They are a wonderful couple and such good friends of ours.

The week has been a busy one. Tuesday I went over to the couple’s house to help them assemble their party favors (jelly beans in engraved shot glasses). Wednesday I saw a Sublime cover band at a local street festival. 40 oz to Freedom did a great job, and I boogied on down a lot!  Yesterday I went with the Bride to get our nails done. Today I came into work an hour and a half early so I can race home and get myself ready for the wedding. I’m wearing a new dress: it’s purple, and a size 6!! I’m so excited to wear my dress tonight! I’ll be sure to post pictures on Sunday!

(isn’t her engagement ring gorgeous? She designed it herself!)

I have been thinking this morning about what I will do at the wedding to make healthy food choices. I already sent in my food reservation card and ordered fish. I hoped it would be a healthier alternative to red meat or chicken. But I’m sure there will be finger foods during the cocktail hour, plus wedding cake! (I think they got cheesecake.) Not to mention four hours of open bar, which I’ve been known to take advantage of. Oh yeah, and Jelly beans that I helped assemble in the party favors!  So what’s my gameplan?  (1) No finger foods, especially because there is a dinner to come.  This is the most important rule, because this is where I can usually really lose track of how much I’m eating, plus finger foods are usually fried. It’s best to avoid entirely. (2) Only have half of the cake.  (3) Dance. A LOT. Burn those calories off!  (4) Give all the jelly beans to hubby, OR give them to the kids. The shot glass I’m keeping!

Saturday’s outdoor picnic will be a little easier to navigate food-wise, even though they are BBQ-ing and getting catering and food will be all around us! For starters, we only live two houses away, so I can run home for healthy food if I need to.  My plan is to wake up early and go to the gym prior to the picnic. Then we plan on swimming at their house and playing volleyball!  We can have fun, socialize, AND get exercise! How great is that?  Avoiding things like potato chips is going to be the hardest challenge (especially if there is guacamole!), but I don’t think that’ll be a problem because I feel certain that there will be salad and fresh veggies to munch on there. My gameplan is to stay totally active all day long!

You see, this whole weight-loss thing is, to a large extent, a mental challenge. It’s about preparing yourself, educating yourself, planning, and trying to make the healthy choice. It’s not about deprivation, but about how to navigate every-day scenarios and making the best possible healthy decisions that you can.

I had two food challenges this week that I think I circumnavigated okay. First, my office got ice cream cones for everyone! I looked at the boxes, and each pre-made cone was 250+ calories. Oh no!  Those calories were higher than I was comfortable with. I wanted to partake though. What did I do? I took one that had a cone attached. I ate the ice cream on the top of the cone, and then threw the rest away (about half of the cone).  Not bad!

eating ice cream at work

The second challenge was when we went out to see the band play. We stopped at a pub for beer and food. I felt like finger food, so I ordered a cheese platter! It was absolutely delicious! I have a hard time with bread though (it gets stuck in my band), so I used some of the nacho chips to put the cheese on. The platter was great because it had fresh fruit, too! I had LOTS of leftovers. I had some of the nachos, as well, while we were there.  There was absolutely nothing nutritional about the nachos, but I didn’t mind because, you know, sometimes, on special occasions, you need to live a little!  I didn’t overdo it. That’s important.  I doubt I broke 300 calories for the cheese and nachos.

cheese and nachos 40 Ounces to Freedom

Did you guys see my post over at Miz Fit yesterday? I talked about the importance of finding your target heart rate when working out. If you didn’t see it, check it out!

Thanks to the guest posting, I acquired a few more followers of my blog yesterday! I now have 50 followers! How exciting! Welcome everybody, and thank you for visiting! I will reciprocate and follow your blogs, as well!

In the words of the wonderful blogger Sean….have a good weekend, and make good choices everyone!

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