Clare and I were impressed by the recent TV series where Si and Dave, the Hairy Bikers, successfully shed a load of pounds whilst still enjoying their food. What stood out for us, especially with Simon, is how much younger, fitter, more animated and, yes, more alive he looked at the end of the series than at the beginning (and he was never a slouch). My immediate thought was that I want some of that!
We have, in the past, tried Weight Watchers with their points system and Slimming World with their red and green days system. Both have helped short-term, but neither has produced the fundamental change in our relationship with food that was needed to effect sustained, long-term weight management.
The thing with what Si and Dave were doing is that it was, at its core, really simple. If you eat more calories than you burn, you will put on weight. If you burn more than you eat, you will lose weight. It follows from those statements that if what you eat and what you burn are in balance, you will maintain your weight. As Alexander Orloff would have it – simplesss.
What we clearly needed to do, then, was to count the calories eaten (OK, with an eye on the carbs/fats/protein balance) and measure the calories being burned including, very importantly, the calories burned by our bodies just to keep us alive – beating the heart, breathing, maintaining core temperature, driving the brain and all that malarkey. After some research, we ended up registering on a site called My Fitness Pal [link]. Describing itself as a “Free online calorie counter and diet plan.” where you can “Lose weight by tracking your caloric intake quickly and easily.” and “Find nutrition facts for over 1000000 foods.“, it allows you to enter important details including age, height, weight, level of daily activity and how much you want to lose per week, from which it calculates how many calories you should eat per day to achieve your goal. To do this, it calculates the calories you would need to eat if you did nothing, takes off from that one seventh of the number of calories to achieve the desired weekly weight loss, and adds back calories that you burn with activity and exercise. That becomes your target for the day. You then record what you eat and what exercise you do, both using the extensive database. It then does the sums.
Measuring calories burned with any level of accuracy is more difficult than measuring calories eaten. I can record that I spent 30 minutes walking the dogs at a steady 3mph, which will give me credit of about 140 calories, but not that a chunk of that walk is spent climbing a steep hill, which surely burns more calories than walking on the level. That is where the fitbit comes in. At its simplest, the fitbit is a sophisticated pedometer with a built in altimeter. It is backed by a web site [link] to which it synchronises and, if you grant it permission, the site transfers details of your calories burned to MyFitnessPal. Yesterday we did a longer than normal walk with the dogs. According to fitbit, I took, during the day, 7807 steps, walked 5.31Kms, climbed the equivalent of 27 flights of stairs (19 of which were in the dog walk) and burned 2435 calories (including BMR). That latter figure was transferred to MyFitnessPal, where it was adjusted to allow for its BMR assumption, and added 378 calories to my recommended intake for the day.
I know, I’m going all evangelistic and stuff, but on 17th July I was 93.7Kg and today I am 85.8Kg. That’s a difference of 7.9Kg, or 1¼ stones – and I have yet to feel hungry even once.
In other developments, I mentioned a while ago that our camper had been given the name Lizzie, and why. We have now received, from an excellent outfit in Torbay (Signs of Life – look them up on eBay here), our customised decal for her. Wanna see it? Of course you do!
Now that she is thus adorned, I have (I can’t say penned, as I did it on the computer) keyboarded an illustrated article for that most august and prestigious of leisure journals, Trafic Report, the official newsletter of the (UK) Renault Trafic Motorhome Register.
37 days until our next big trip.