Saturday, January 7, 2012

The Weight Solution- Calories In

If you've been faithfully following along, I have to apologize for the lapses in content. Over the Christmas holiday season, I developed some sort of stomach bug. Not sure if it was chemical, viral, bacterial, or pansy-related, but I just didn't want to eat. My energy levels were fine. No fever or headaches. Solid food did not interest me. I was quite grumpy. Every time I thought about writing, the content was rather harsh. I put it off in exchange for renovating the new house. In the mean time, I lost 2 pounds. I do not suggest this sort of strategy (not eating) as a way to lose weight. The reason, it is not sustainable. You gotta eat sometime.

Plus, the BIL sent me a NY Times article which resulted in copious amounts of sulking. Those thieving bastards! I think someone from the NY Times hacked into my blogger account, perused through my weight loss drafts (I have several already started but underdeveloped). Then, the jerks went out and added some human interest stories. Now, it may look like I am borrowing material from them, which I am not! You can find the article here. It's a pretty good read, albeit long, but highlights the important concepts of the series.

Hopefully, you've been taking advantage of the New Year's to get motivated and get to work on all of those resolutions you'll drop in 3 weeks. Good for you. If weight loss is on your list of desires, I've got good news and bad news. First, the Good News- I am going to show you how simple it is to achieve your weight loss goals. In fact, I guarantee results or your money back*.  Now, the Bad News- I am an idiot Losing weight, while simple, requires a lot of work.

Sounds conflicting, right? Don't get in the habit of confusing simple with easy. See, in the physiological arena, the Calories In: Calories Out formula rules the coop. Weight loss is as simple as burning more calories than you ate. In Part 1, I told you that you needed to weigh and record your weight. That's daily homework for you in the realm of data collecting. Whereas we cannot trust the daily weight to give us anything of real value, the scale will accurately show you the trend over time. If you cannot handle that assignment, then this next one is going to really piss you off.

You Need to Record Your Calories-In
Again, this seems to counter an attitude that I have given you in the past. I told you that there's no way to actually know how many calories are in the food you eat. I stand by that post. But, that doesn't mean you cannot take advantage of the information that is there. Currently, and I'm going out on a limb here, you do not write down everything that goes into your gullet, including the listed calorie information. That means, in essence, you have exactly 0 data on your food. Sure, you have an idea. But, until you start to record the numbers, you actually have nothing. Now, let's assume that the calorie thingy that you might use is +/-10% off. If you do the work, using their system, your data is 90% accurate, at worst. I have to tell you that, as a teacher, I'd be tickled if all of my students were at 90% or above.

Hopefully, you can see what's going on here. There are literally thousands of different ways to record your nutrition. There are websites, apps, food logs, journals, etc. that will allow you to input your food and it will give you a number of calories consumed over time. Even if the number is completely off, it is still better than the number you currently have (remember, you have nothing). Bad data is infinitely better than no data. Double better for you is that the data won't be completely off anyway. 90% right data is not what I would call bad. I just wouldn't call it accurate.

And, even more better for you (sometimes, I love it when bad grammar seems more better than gooder grammar), it doesn't even matter if the data is bad. What we are looking for is precision in the data. Just a quick lesson for you on the topic of accuracy versus precision. These are not really synonyms in the world of science, no matter how the common folk use them. Accuracy is getting the answer right. Precision is getting repeated results, even if the answer is wrong. An answer can be accurate, precise, neither, or both.

We are looking for trends over a long period of time. Any of the calorie systems that you pick is going to be 100% precise. I have no doubt in that. That means it will give you the same answer every time you plug in the same problem. According to your app-site-journal thing, a medium apple will always be 80 calories. The label on the Snickers bar will be the same today as 15 years from now. So, in essence, we are recording 90% accurate data with 100% precision. And with very precise data, we can take advantage of those numbers. How to do this will show up in a later post.

But, and here's the sucky part, you must do your part. Whereas my Garmin will record every step I take to the 0.01 of a mile with 99.9% accuracy and precision with just the press of a button, nothing in the world will record your food for you. With food, you are on your own. To record your gluttony precisely (see, as a teacher, I know that I have to give you more than 60 opportunities to see and use a word if you are going to get it into your brain. I'm going to fail in this post but you cannot blame me for trying to be accurate and precise in my writing), you must become extra anal about recording your food. The Wife will bust out her iPhone immediately after dinner and write down what she ate. I could be right in the middle of a sentence, and viola, out comes the phone and tapping. I find it, at times,  a conversation killer to see her face buried in her phone instead of lost in my eyes and hanging on every word that spews from my never-ending jabberjaw.  Sure, her habit bugs me at the time, but when I see her results, I really appreciate it. She's a drop-dead hottie.

So there you have it. If you are serious about losing and maintaining your weight loss, you need to have a precise record of what you are eating. It is a lot of hard work. But, if you do it (without lying to yourself), along with the other steps I will soon lay out,  I guarantee results*.

*The terms of the guarantee: you lose weight should you follow the regime. Should you fail, you have the right to... Okay, I don't want to go into it fully. There's a lot of fine print, red tape, and the lawyers have cautioned me not to say too much on the topic to non-paying customers. If you'd like a full copy of the guarantee, including terms, agreements, with all applicable taxes (offer not valid in Alaska, Hawaii, and for some reason, Montana), just let me know. There, um, may be a fee involved. Again, the lawyers asked me not to say too much.

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