What Does the Math Say?

I was out running this morning and turning this one-pound-loss-in-a-week thing over and around in my head and I decided to go to the math. Math makes me happy, and figuring stuff out while I’m running helps that go by faster.

Keep in mind that this is all very, very nebulous and theoretical, because there are a LOT of factors at play in a body, so it’s never just straight arithmetic. But it can give a general idea!

I gained 10 pounds over the course of 14 months, which is 60 weeks. Theoretically, to gain 10 pounds you have to eat 35,000 extra calories that your body doesn’t need (1 pound = 3,500 calories…sort of). That’s about 583 extra calories per week, or 83 extra calories a day. That’s a pretty slim margin, btw. When you have a super-slow metabolism like mine, though, a small excess can really add up.

I was already crushing it on the exercise front – I had implemented a serious workout routine and was following it all year long. I was also mostly following my healthy eating plan 3-5 days a week. Leaving me 2-4 days to get those extra calories in. So really what was happening, I think, was that 3-5 days a week I was eating at my maintenance level or just below, and for 2-3 days I’d let loose and eat an extra 200-300 extra calories per day. Woop woop! Party in my mouth!

Seriously, as far as falling off the wagon goes, I really didn’t do a very good job at it. Even when I was indulging I was always conscious of trying to eat smaller portions of high-cal foods and choosing more fruits and veg. So the margin I’m working with here is actually pretty small to begin with. Like I mentioned in my What Went Wrong? post, I was doing a lot right, and just needed to tune up a specific defect in my routine – weekends.

When I lay it all out like that…

I don’t really have much room to maneuver, the changes I am making aren’t that awfully large. I needed to stop consuming those 583 extra calories per week just to reach equilibrium (you know, stop gaining), then deficit by another 3500 calories to drop a pound. So to get a one pound loss in a week, or a 2.3 pound loss in a week and a half…I think that’s pretty good considering that all I am doing is tweaking what I am doing a couple of days per week. And according to the math I wasn’t shooting as big a hole in those days as I’d previously thought. Slow and steady is the name of the game.

Thanks, math! I’m going to be all right!

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