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Anne M. Rensberger, LICSW
The Mathematics Of Dieting

The Mathematics Of Dieting

I know you; you have struggled with your weight for years. You have had success for a while but are never able to maintain your weight loss or get your weight to what you really want. Your weight is your albatross. If only you didnt have to deal with your obesity, your life would be much better. I know you because I have been there.

Think of a weight management plan as a health bank. Figure out how many calories it takes you to maintain your current weight. For many obese people one approximate way to do that is to take your current weight times ten. Kathy weighs 200 pounds, so it takes her 2,000 calories a day to maintain her weight. Eat more than that and she gains, eat less and she loses.

It takes 3,500 calories to gain or lose a pound. So, if Kathy wanted to lose a pound this week, she would divide 3,500 by seven and would have to take 500 calories off her daily 2,000 calories and eat 1,500 calories a day for seven days.

But, if she wanted to lose faster she could exercise more. For example, if she put on her pedometer and logged 3,000 steps that day she could add 123 calories of extra food and still lose, or she could keep her calorie consumption at 2,000 calories and lose faster because her steps burned more calories.

Or, she could figure it by mile Kathy would burn about 100 calories per mile walked. There are charts on the Internet that calculate the calories burned for such walks.

I know what you are thinking. You are going to tell me, “Anne, I dont have time for all of that, I am too busy as it is. I dont want to fool around looking up all those calories, trying to figure out the calories in a restaurants meal, keeping all those records, looking up calories burned on exercise expenditure charts.”

True, it does take time and effort. But, if you are like most of us you tend to eat the same things at home and often the same things in restaurants over and over. So, once you get your normal eating plans calories figured out, then it really doesnt take much time.

But lets get back to the bank. Kathy has 1,500 calories she can eat today, so, as she eats she starts drawing down her calories from her calorie bank. But, she is able to make a 200 calorie deposit in her bank today because she walked two miles. That means she really can consume 1,700 calories today and still be on track to lose one pound that week.

The most important thing for Kathy is that when the calories are gone for the day she has to stop eating. As one of my clients says, “The kitchen is closed and I have to tell myself I wont starve to death by tomorrow morning.”

If you need support or guidance for weight loss, you may want to contact a weight management coach, who can assist you.

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