Why it takes a really long flipping time to lose weight-- and how long it's going to take to lose it.
As it is a popular resolution addressing weight loss this time of year is necessary for every fitness professional. I read many blogs and articles from other fitness professionals and many times things stick out in my mind and resonate long after I've finished reading the article. One such edict was a demand for trainers to honestly tell their clients why exercise is not as important as what they were eating. The implication was that trainers are intentionally hiding the truth to sell clients on the idea that their exercise program had all the answers and if they just kept training with them they could still eat and drink whatever they wanted and lose weight they wanted. I suppose that could work. In the short term. But when people don't lose the weight they want because they think that since they worked out a hellish trainer led session they can consume whatever they want, eventually they will blame the trainer and the workouts not the calorie consumption. Seems counterproductive to me, you would then have to become the best salesperson in the world to keep selling a regimen that isn't working.
I would rather let people know in the beginning: you have a responsibility to budget your calorie consumption or your attempts at exercise for calorie burning will fail. I don't know if the 80/20 stat is true, diet = 80% of the battle, but I do know that you can out-consume your burn.
This post will tell you why. It is very detailed and numbers oriented, basically solved word problems to follow along with.
All the information in this article is based on the supposition the following formula is true.
Why are we using this formula and chart? Well do you want to start off counting calories so you know for sure it's right or do you want to get started on a weight loss track? Your call.
X=weight in pounds
For weight loss
X*12 or 13
For weight maintenance
X* 15 or 16
For weight gain
X*18 or 19
The following chart breaks it down to calories consumed each day.
￼ Weight Loss Maintenance Weight Gain Weekly cal Ma. Total
12 13 15 16 18 19
110 1320 1430 1650 1760 1980 2090 12320
120 1440 1560 1800 1920 2160 2280 13440
130 1560 1690 1950 2080 2340 2470 14560
140 1680 1820 2100 2240 2520 2660 15680
150 1800 1950 2250 2400 2700 2850 16800
175 2100 2275 2625 2800 3150 3325 19600
200 2400 2600 3000 3200 3600 3800 22400
225 2700 2925 3375 3600 4050 4275 25200
250 3000 3250 3750 4000 4500 4750 28000
Chart is best viewed on a desktop or on the desktop option on your mobile (or turning the phone sideways works).
There is one magic number: 3500
Say a 225lb person sets a goal of 150lbs a 75lb weight loss. If the person has weighed 225 for longer than 6 months they are likely consuming @ 3600cal/day and 25,200cal/week.
To get to 150 they will need to create a caloric deficit of 262,500. [1lb=3500calories 75*3500=262,500]
It is believed that the safest amount of weight to lose per week is only 2 pounds(2.5 if someone is very overweight) but when someone weighs more than a certain amount it may be possible to at first lose more than two pounds but by the time the goal weight is closer the weight loss is more like half a pound a week.
To get to 150 from something higher you want to consume about 1800 calories a day or 12,600 calories a week. That at first will burn more than 2 pounds a week even if you do not exercise. But most people will not be able to go from 3600 to 1800 a day and it is way outside the safe guidelines. To start it will be least shocking to the system to go from 3600 to 2600 a day and 18,200 a week. That is a 2 pound a week pace so a person should lose 75lbs in about 38 weeks.
In that 38 weeks if you do no extra exercise and burn no extra calories except what you deprive yourself of you will still weigh @ 163, a full 13lbs above goal weight, see formula above. That is because consuming 18,200 calories a week will result in a weight of 163. To get to 150 you must consume even less than 2600 a day, now it must go to 2100 a day if you want to burn 1 pound a week. That's still another 13 weeks on top of the 38 you've already put in. That's nearly a year, 51 weeks. Note: these numbers are higher than the "weight loss" numbers above yet could still be effective because there is a calorie reduction from previous consumption.
But my resolution!!!! I can do this it's a new year, new me!!!
Ok so you're going for the full calorie deprivation out the gate. This requires going from 3600 calories a day to 1800 calories a day. Remember a 150lb person consumes at most 2400 calories a day [still referring to the table and formula]. If you could stick to a burn of 1800 calories a day with diet and exercise you burn 12,600 a week. But you must burn off 262,500.
262,500 at a deficit of 12,600 calories a week will take 21 weeks. This is a best case scenario and will require a physical training program for supplementation of caloric burning. As soon as your weight starts to drop from that 225 pounds so will your metabolism, hence the need for physical activity and likely someone to be accountable to.
If you do have a trainer most likely the goal will be broken down to smaller goals. Instead of 75 pounds at one time it will be at most 50 but probably more like 25. This will much more gradually adjust the calorie deprivation and unless exercise is added to further burn calories diet will take a over half a year.
200 is first goal from 225. So go from 25,200 cal a week to 16,800. 2400 calories a day from 3600. That's 1200 calories a day not consuming things you used to consume. 87500cals=25lbs 8400/week deficit will take 10 weeks to get to goal of 200. Now the goal becomes 175, 25lbs another 87,500 calories burned. To get there staying at 2400 calories won't work. Your intake goal is now 2100 calories a day 14,700 calories a week.
25,200-14,700=10,500 with 87,500 to burn to 175, about another 8.5 weeks. Still 25 pounds and another 87,500 to go. Staying at that pace should reach goal of 150 in another 8.5 weeks, a total of 27 weeks.
Don't think about the weight in pounds think of it in calories that must be burned. 3500 calories cannot be burned as fast as it can be consumed.
How many calories did you burn during your workout? Hard to tell because many factors go into determining how efficiently your body works. I believe I read the most an elite athlete can burn in one hour was something like 1200 calories doing exercises of some really not fun stuff. Like running fast and jumping rope. For a non stop hour. Still, in my world 5mm makes a difference and exercising will still help the weight loss journey more than just calorie deprivation.
Chances are if you do not workout at all you will slip on your diet and have many setbacks. It will take you even longer than the time calculated above. If you do workout your setbacks could be minimized. It will most likely still take you the same time to lose the weight unless you stick with that calorie intake goal perfectly and who is perfect?
The formula and chart can be used to calculate how many calories and how long it will take to get from any weight to any weight. I picked 225 to 150 for absolutely no reason but once I picked those numbers I stuck with them throughout the article for clarity. This also works to explain why it takes a long time for the proverbial 90lb weakling to put on weight, too. The person looking to gain muscle hopefully is aware already that they must use a resistance training program to help their muscles grow.
Bottom line, the more you weigh the longer it takes to lose the weight (duh) but depending on your method there is a reason it seems to take longer to lose the last few pounds than it did to lose the bulk of the weight. It is this precise reason that while exercise plays a key role in weight loss and body composition plus overall wellness, you cannot "eat whatever you want because you worked out so hard." So as you have to workout anyway, find an activity you like and do it enough to make a difference. You can burn calories doing just about any activity just make sure you don't negate your burns by going outside your calorie budget.
Weight loss plateaus usually signify a balance in caloric intake to caloric burn. In other words you are burning exactly what you are consuming. Normally balance is a good thing in life, we all strive for it. But if you are not gaining or losing weight your consumption to burn ratio is in balance. To lose weight you must shake it up. Either you must consume less or burn more so here are a few quick tips for both.
For weight loss
X*12 or 13
For weight maintenance
X* 15 or 16
For weight gain
X*18 or 19
Even the biggest fitness enthusiast has an off day. If you work out 3--5 times a week and today is workout day what do you do? Do you skip? Tell yourself you'll workout tomorrow when you feel better?
I don't always feel like twisting my body around a cold metal pole. Sometimes I'm too sore, sometimes just plain uninspired. But I still have goals and skipping workouts does not get me closer to meeting those goals especially when it's repetition and time that brings the results I'm looking for.
So what is the solution? Exploring other forms of fitness and activity. While the concept of cross training is not new picking your vehicle can make the difference between just working out to burn calories and working out to further your goals. If burning calories is your goal, then of course pick whatever you feel like doing and go. If your splits are almost on the floor and your flexibility is improving greatly you want to protect that progress. If you want to burn calories but not set your flexibility back, banging out 2 hours on the incline setting on the treadmill you haven't touched since 1998 might not be the best cross training choice for you.
Choose wisely. Flexibility work is mostly in the lower half of the body until you get to contortion type training when you begin upper back and shoulder bending. I love to hit a speed bag because it gets me warm and doesn't affect my leg muscles, they can stay loose while hitting a speed bag as opposed to striding on the elliptical.
Many pole poses and holds require massive back flexibility. That is the ability to bend backwards and the closer your hands can get to your feet the better for these poses.
While I am thrilled with the above image and always have been, I know that I can get even more bend in my back. One day I hope to be able to bring the other arm all the way around and grab the leg with both hands.
So far this is the closest I can get, pole is a prop instead of twisting around it. Also, I need the boots to grab onto because the platform part is so much thicker than my foot it gives me something to hold onto. My foot would slip out of my hands before I could even get any kind of stretch.
Here is a compilation of stretches and yoga poses I like to do that have helped open my chest, stretch my shoulders, and strengthen my back bend. These are the best of each pose but the actual workout from start to finish with no poling involved is a little over an hour and 15 minutes.
Before engaging in any intense stretching like this please make sure you are properly warmed up. 10-12 minutes of activity that raises your heart rate into a 115-145 range should be enough to ensure safety with stretches like these. If you are new to this or feel any fear of injury make sure you have a partner or trainer with you to spot you.
How’s that New Year’s resolution coming along? Broken already? Most of them are by this time in late February but we all know fitness is so much more than a broken new year’s resolution; it’s a lifetime commitment. It’s okay you can get back on that fitness regimen with a little determination and maybe a little help from your friends. Here are 5 reasons why working out with a partner can help you lose weight.
1. Less intimidating to face [new] health-club environment with buddy
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard women comment they felt so awkward or unsure of themselves going to a new health club. Some have even been so intimidated they managed to pay the fees to join and they even pay the monthly dues but the only time they were actually in the club was they day they signed up.
Many people feel if they don’t have six pack abs people at the gym will be looking down on them. Not true. First, the people with six pack abs are too busy looking at their own abs to notice you. Second, should they take the time from mugging in the mirror and notice you most will have much respect for fellow gym members working on their health and physical fitness. Unfortunately no one believes this—they get too self-conscious worrying about what others think. Since we all know that for a program to work you have to actually work it not showing up isn’t going to work. Going in with a friend you already know thinks highly of you regardless of your fitness level and having someone there to face the crowd with will make you feel like you are center stage with a pal instead of in your underwear alone.
2. Accountable to each other
The hardest part is actually getting to the gym or the workout space or just off the couch. Having someone to be accountable to will give you two people to show up for, yourself and your buddy who has also managed to get themselves off the couch. Once you are actually in the working part of your session you encourage, challenge and push each other to not only get through the workout but make gains and go beyond your status quo. Weight lifters add weight to their sets, runners go an extra mile polers get a move/hold they thought was impossible for their body. The environment of challenge but encouragement and celebration when challenges are met is priceless. This can help build long sustaining relationships.
3. Set time and place to always meet
When I worked out 4 times a week I never had a set schedule. Workouts were whenever I could get them in for whichever body part I was working that day and I wrote everything down in a notebook.* Because of the way I split my workouts they were 4 times a week and at the time I never would have done 2 days in a row even if it was upper body one day, lower the next. As a result workouts were not on a Monday, Wednesday, Friday schedule or even Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday schedule. It made it easy to skip workouts without noticing. When you have a set workout schedule you notice when you skip your Wednesday workout.
4. Social interaction
What better reason to get off the couch than the comradery of checking out members of whichever gender you are into? Okay so maybe you’ve evolved past the gym meat market, or maybe your partner is your significant other, whether the relationship is a romantic one or platonic bonding over fitness goals having a buddy to share in the grind with you can make working out not only tolerable but actually fun. A workout you enjoy is much more likely to be adhered to and therefore more effective for weight loss.
Unless you are working out with your significant other who says you can’t have more than one workout partner? Consider what your friends are into, having one or more workout partners can help improve your social life but also introduce you to new things. There is nothing saying you can’t do “CrossFit” with one buddy and power yoga with another.
5. Friendly competition , if you alone aren’t enough
If the picture doesn’t speak to you like it does me, maybe a rival/partner who challenges you through competition is the way to go. It can be someone you know from the office or someone you’ve known since soccer camp, anyone who challenges you to pedal harder in spin class, use heavier weights for your sets or go longer on the treadmill— as long as you know your injury limits— can help reach your fitness goals. If the desire to beat your friend at the 50-yard dash motivates you to work a little longer, add more sprints or in any way step your training it could get you closer to that goal, it could also get you closer to a weight loss goal.
If none of your friends are reliable or you yourself have a crazy schedule the precludes a set workout schedule consider hiring a fitness trainer. It is their job to accommodate your schedule and be there when you can work out. Don’t take my word for it, here’s http://finance.yahoo.com/news/6-reasons-hiring-personal-trainer-153026845.html 6 reasons hiring a personal trainer is worth the money.
*Writing things in a notebook was how I kept track of weight lifting workouts. Now I keep track of workouts with a notebook but rely more heavily on videotaping each session.
Find inspiration in your own movement, record it! Why videotaping your training sessions could be the key to weight loss success
Proper form regardless of mode of exercise is one of the most important facets of training success. Bad form will at best be ineffective and at worst lead to injury. Learning proper form is not a naturally inherent endeavor for most people. Most people will need instruction to achieve proper form and someone to check their execution.
For those going it alone one way to ensure proper form is videotaping. Lifting weights is usually a straight forward proposition once proper form is established most people do not deviate. However, an attempt to add weight one is not ready for could cause a break-down in form that awareness could correct. Yoga and Pilates also require proper form and video will allow you to see where improvements can be made.
It’s cold, it’s busy, there’s cake and motivation is severely lacking. Sometimes workout time is reduced to maintenance only because that is all you have the energy for. Congratulate yourself, at least you’re not couch surfing. While performing maintenance workouts can feel tedious and boring take extra care to mind your form. This type of workout could be the best opportunity to correct and improve any form issues.
It is finally here: December “the most wonderful time of the year.” Or as fitness trainers know it: the month nothing gets done in fitness. This is when health clubs if they are proactive are running as many “get in here this month right now” specials as they can think of. Only the most dedicated of fitness enthusiasts are still in the gym this month. Group fitness class attendance wanes until finally classes are cancelled for the month—overall belief in the effectiveness of any workout while so busy with shopping and parties is gone. Any excuse not to workout is utilized and any other activity will do.
Check that form
Sometimes all we can do is try to be better than yesterday. Then sometimes we are trying to get back to as good as we were yesterday. Setbacks happen with injury but also with inadequate training. Generally if it hurts, don’t do it. But with video if it hurts and you see your form is off fix it, or don’t do it. Sometimes we get hurt and have no idea why. Wouldn't it be great to hit rewind and at least see what went wrong?
Once trained in your given mode it is less likely you will need to video day to day. Unless of course your preferred mode is pole fitness. In that case you will probably want to video every session. You never know when you are going to do something totally cool you have never done before.
At one studio I taught we were forbidden to video tape classes so my videotaping during those years was sporadic. Sometimes I would mess around after class and tape that but mostly whatever I taped was at home in my pole room. Now that I am at a different studio every practice is recorded. If you do not have a video camera get one. It is the second best investment a pole dancer can make. (The first of course being a great personal pole.) The best way to see what you are doing and correlate that with what it feels like to do it is to video tape it. Having a great kinesthetic sense will get you pretty far. But if your form needs correction and you have gotten into a bad habit the video tells the truth.
Pole enthusiasts all over the world desire to move with pointed toes like a ballerina. Pointed toes make every movement prettier. However it can be really hard to have the awareness to know when your toes are pointed with your entire foot and when your toes are pointed but your foot is flexed making for a very funny looking leg.
It still amazes me how many people (pole devotees especially) do not record their practices. I was talking with fellow polers the other day when the subject of video came up. I made the suggestion that people should not only tape their poling sessions but also their stretching and prep sessions as well. If you have no studio or other way to get feedback you can still get great workouts by watching yourself and seeing where you need to make improvements. It is really hard to have the kinesthetic awareness needed to have perfect form all the time. Watching video will help show you bad habits and help correct them. Especially if you have no studio in your area but are still learning pole through online lessons or just self-taught through YouTube, videotaping could be the only feedback you receive on your form and technique. Video provides inspiration for when you have to pole alone. With Instagram, Youtube, tumbler, Facebook, etc. all the other social media photo and video sharing sites you can have instant encouragement, validation, tips and pointers.
Video doesn't lie.
A few weeks ago I noticed I was having a really hard time accomplishing a move I thought I had mastered or at least was strong enough on to get every time. I couldn’t nail it and thought somehow I had lost strength. Would have been frustrated, but I knew exactly what to do to get it back; I saw it on the old footage. I hadn’t lost strength at all but merely changed my technique. As soon as I duplicated the earlier footage I was able to recreate the move. Whether it’s from time away from training, weight gain, or injury there are many things that can cause things not to work like before. If you haven’t been training as much as needed and your form is suffering as a result, your video will tell you. Old video helps you see how you got to where you were. It will also let you see how you went off track. Check the video, see what you’ve been doing for the last month and see that (for example) extreme stretching 3x a week isn’t working for you. Now what? Video will tell you if you are losing ground by not stretching often enough, or it could help you to see that though your body can only handle stretching twice a week you are not losing ground.
Video will also tell you when you’ve gotten [back] to where you want to be. One of the best feelings in the world is total control of your body. Seeing that control executed on video is very fulfilling and confidence building. Should you choose to post a short video or still from the action on your social media websites you are almost guaranteed to get likes, comments, and general feedback. Soon you are part of a community and working out alone is truly an option.
I know people who still do not have access to a video camera. I do not endorse any one brand of camera but feel it is important to use any means you can to record your practice sessions. If you are thinking ‘yes but I only have so much memory on my camera or my computer,’ that is true. However, you could invest about a hundred in an external hard drive and store all your videos on that. Even if you can only record a few minutes at a time on your phone, it is still better than going blind and having no visual feedback to connect what you are feeling to what it looks like. The only way to get true feedback on your own is to see it. So use what you have (even if it’s your computer’s webcam, almost all new computer seem to have them these days) track your progress and watch that form as you improve your skill set with each session.
With the holidays rapidly approaching (for some who are still munching their children’s Halloween candy they already started) the rest of the year will probably be filled with shopping, office parties, family gatherings and perhaps trips out of town. With an already hectic schedule the added activity brings more opportunity to eat extra calories known as “holiday food”. It does not usually lead to extra workouts, so the extra calories may be getting stored instead of burned. Everyone knows that candy, fruit cake and eggnog are packed with calories they don’t need. But for many this time of year only exacerbates an already existing problem. The popular statistic is that the average person gains 7 pounds during this season, known as the holiday 7. The simplest way to state this problem is: people weigh more than they want to because they out consume what they use calorically. Seems so simple but no one wants to believe it or look at it. How many people who are trying to shed inches or fat are actually keeping an accurate caloric intake journal? That means tracking everything that goes into your mouth and accurately recording not only what you ate and drank but the correct calorie counts for the portions as well. But that isn't any fun so people look for the latest get-thin-the-easy-way-methods.
There is plenty out there to find: ‘quality over quantity’ ‘low carb,’ ‘Zone diet,’ ‘Atkins diet,’ gluten free! pick one hope it works. Most likely though it won’t. “But I eat vegetables. I eat clean.” (Um, soap?) Or my absolute favorite, “I eat six small meals a day.” Just saying the words gives me that nails-on-a-chalkboard cringe because you may think your portions are small and you are eating small meals but calorically you most likely are eating somewhere closer to 4-5 regular size meals a day. Obviously this won’t work for weight loss. Not to mention how challenging it is to come up with dinner, forget about five other meals for just one day. So now what? Well let’s take a look at what is really going on with weight, metabolism, calories and energy.
The magic number
Everyone has a TDEE or totally daily energy expenditure. This translates to how many calories each person can consume per day and maintain the exact weight they are at. Everyone is different. For some their TDEE is 1250 calories. For others it could be as much as 2500 and that person may or may not be a weight lifter/body builder. This has to do with personal metabolism. There are loose guidelines to help calculate based on your height and current weight what your TDEE is. They are loose because there are other factors the guidelines can know nothing about. One example: two females of relatively the same height, age, weight and non-working activity level; both work 40/hours/week but female A works at a retail job that requires standing and walking for entire shifts at a time, and female B is an office worker who sits at a desk for their shifts. That variable is enough to give them a different TDEE.
Before you spend too much time and energy trying to figure out what your TDEE is think about how much you weigh vs how much you want to weigh. Now you might have to consider keeping a food journal (or getting an app on your phone) that will help you learn how many calories a week you are eating. One day will not be enough data. One week might not be enough but if you can only see one week at a time start with that. In all of this there is one magic number. And that number 3500. Remember it, know it, understand it is the base by which all calculations regarding weight gain and loss is built.
3500 calories = 1 pound but what does that actually mean? It means if you consume 3500 more calories than you burn you will gain 1 pound. Depending on what you have done with yourself that may be 1 pound of muscle, but for the majority of the population that will be 1 pound of fat. Conversely if you burn 3500 more calories than you consume you will lose 1 pound. If you burn and consume 3500 calories over 3 days you will maintain the exact weight you are.
If you wish to put on twenty pounds of muscle weight you will need to not only consume more calories than you are now but you will need to be on a very strict strength training program. If of course, you want to lose weight you will need to figure out how many pounds you want to lose and create that caloric deficit. For an easy example if you want to lose 10 pounds 10X3500 = 35,000 calories. Let’s say you consume 2000 calories a day. That is 2000X7 = 14,000 total calories consumed each week. Now, as you need to create a deficit of 35,000 calories, and you only consume 14,000 a week you are not going to lose ten pounds of fat in a week. Though ten pounds is a relatively small number, much smaller than forty pounds, it will still take time. To lose a pound a week you would need consume only 10,500 a week, that is 500 calories less a day consumed.* A previously sedentary person could begin an exercise regimen that together with consuming less calories will create that 500 calorie a day deficit totally 3500 calories at the end of the week. Someone already active could change regimens or add in an extra day to burn more calories. Most people will need to not only step up their workout but curb their high caloric eating habits.
As already stated people are out consuming what they are burning. Many don’t know how— especially when they are doing everything the diet says!— this is possible. Some people make the mistake (so easy to do when not used to reading labels) of looking at the calories in a product and thinking that is all there is. What they may not realize is that may be calories per serving and there are 4 servings in the product so what they thought was 140 calories was actually 560 calories. This makes people think they are consuming less calories than they really are. The best example I have of that is those pints of ice cream. The calorie information says 140 calories. But you must read further to see that the 140 calories is ½ a cup because there are 4 servings in the container.
Another hidden calorie source is beverages. Unfortunately, unless you are drinking water or some chemically altered “diet” drink it will have calories. Most people have no idea how many calories they drink. Everyone has heard by now of alcohol’s empty calories but are you aware that juice, lattes, smoothies, protein shakes, tea, hot chocolate, etc have probably as many calories as your favorite beer or wine?
Protein and “meal replacement smoothies” are supposed to do exactly that, replace the meal, not be an addition to it. Too many people eat and have a meal replacement or “recovery” shake at the same meal. If they are truly low calorie smoothies and you really don’t eat anything else until the next scheduled meal but the smoothie it could work. But in reality 1. the best tasting smoothies are about 500 calories/serving and 2. are not all that filling especially after a hard driving work out. So one is tempted and most likely will drink the smoothie and then eat some actual food because they need to feel something more in their stomach than liquid. So in drinking that smoothie all they are doing is adding extra unneeded calories to their daily intake.
It is possible to lose weight eating things that have no nutritional valuable at all. Just as we’ve all heard the experts say that you can gain weight eating vegetables and food that is “good for you.” This is correct though unlikely as the food choices that are good for you are likely to be lower in calories than sugary, fatty, foods that are not so good for you. But if you made it past the math to the hidden calories you have a better understanding of how even the most strict diet follower could gain weight eating (and drinking) the right things. It’s not particularly good for you to not have vegetables or foods that are nutritionally sound but it is not a requirement for weight loss. Really? Yes. Really. Simply, there is one requirement for weight loss: Burn (use for energy) more calories than you consume. The two ways to achieve this are 1. cut calories daily and 2. begin or increase physical activity. One or the other will work with enough discipline but the best and least sacrificial course is to combine the two methods. Physical activity is good for you and a strict diet is no fun. You don’t have to give up every food you love to lose weight but you will have to make different choices. Instead of that 400 calorie latte with that slice of cake you may have to choose just one of the two. Increasing exercise session duration, frequency and effort or intensity during the session will help increase caloric burn.
*These numbers are only based on a 2000 calorie a day diet because it is simplest for the example.