The Skinny Daily Post™

Short, daily essays on weight loss and fitness
from a really average woman who lost 100 lbs.
and works every day to keep it off.

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Saturday, August 30, 2003  


I was messing with my BalanceLog software the other day, and tempted, really tempted, to tweak the settings so I could have more calories.

You know?

There are times when I want to try to fool the software, or the scale setting, or the BMI calculator, or the panty hose chart, or even my own journal, but especially the online calorie recommender, by making myself a little taller than I am, certainly. But lately I've been trying to claim that I'm more active than I really am.

Because the truth is, except for the hours I put in these days in exercise, I'm sedentary. Almost completely inert. I'm basically an inanimate object, but for a few twitches, and I make most lazy cats look ambitious.

I used to feel awful about that. But I stopped. There's nothing wrong with being still. There's no value judgment in the word, "sedentary." Really there isn't. It isn't a statement about your worth, your personality, your ability to contribute to society. Some of the most still people I know of have given us great wisdom, great freedom, great truth. Some have freed their countries from oppression, even, more or less by sitting still.

I'm a writer, an introverted woman who spends most of her day still, in a slightly crouched position, over a keyboard. I may occasionally intersperse this activity with meetings wherein I sit with other people around large tables. I might once in a while stand to write something on a whiteboard, and I try to pace when I do to burn off a few extra calories. But we can't really call that active, can we?


No, we can't.

You don't burn calories thinking. A slight design flaw, in my opinion, and I hope I'm not struck by lightning for saying so.

So, you might be perky, adorable, a real people person, charming, witty, but if you sit still all day long for your work, and then again when you get home, you're sedentary.

You might be all that and a bag of chips, but sitting on your butt means you're not burning many calories. And so if you're all that and sitting on your butt with a bag of chips, you're probably in trouble, weight wise.

Calorie burning calculators really are only helpful by showing you relative differences in the calorie-burning values of various activities. That is, clearly, jogging burns a lot more calories in an hour than typing does.

Unfortunately, if, like me, you have a sluggish metabolism, you will burn fewer calories doing the same stuff as your more metabolically hot friends.

By trying to kid the calculators into thinking I'm a more active person, I can tweak the results so these pieces of software recommend more food in my day, but my body is the final judge. My body fat scale thinks I ought to be able to eat nearly 1,000 more calories than I really can. On the other hand, I will know the difference between eating 1,200 calories per day vs. 1,500 calories in just about a week or two. Or three.

So, if you're just getting around to figuring out how many calories you need to maintain or lose weight, do two things, please. First, remember that the software is only a guide, not an oracle. Calculators and software help you and your diet counselors or medical team set a guideline for you, but it's your body that will make the final call. The only way for you to know how many calories are right for you is to write down everything you put in your mouth, and the calorie value of it. For a few weeks' time. And then you will know.

Use the calorie burning figures to figure out how insert more activity in your day. Only by increasing your output can you increase your input. You know?

Yeah. I know you know.


Calories Per Activity Calculator
Caring for your Introvert
BalanceLog Software

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posted by Julie |
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