The Calorie: Our Best Friend/Our Worst Enemy

Nutrition 101 gives us some information that we MUST understand and embrace on our road to “weightlessness”.

It is as follows:

1. Energy is measured in units called calories. (One calorie is the amount of energy needed to raise 1 kilogram of water by 1 degree C).

2. The body requires energy- or calories to function properly.

3.There are established guidelines for how much energy (calories) the human body needs on a daily basis. For example:

• Sedentary women and some older adults need 1600 calories per day will meet energy demands.
• Children, teenage girls, active women, and sedentary men require approximately 2200 calories per day.
• Teenage boys, many active men and some active women will need closer to 2800 calories per day.

4. Since we generally eat several times a day rather than continuously, our bodies must store some of the energy we eat for later use, maybe minutes, hours, or even days away. One pound of excess body fat stores about 3500 calories of energy. In order to lose this fat, the stored energy must be burned.

5. To lose 2 pounds a week, one must burn 1000 calories a day more than one takes in.

6. To lose 1 pound a week, a 500-calorie deficit must be created each day (500 calories/day x 7 days = 3500 calories).

7. Decreasing food intake and increasing physical activity work together to create the deficit needed to lose weight. (Material gathered from the ACE Group Fitness Instructor Manual).

The challenge then is to see how we can shave off extra calories from our diet and burn more calories each day. I am sure that you have heard the following suggestions:

• Drink low fat or skim milk instead of whole milk.
• Switch from Sugared Colas to Diet Sodas.
• Cut portions in half when at a Restaurant.
• Note the portion size on the food container and place that portion on a plate, rather than eating directly from the bag. (For example, 16 pretzels equal one serving size).
• Park your car far away from your destination for increased exercise.
• Get in some sit-ups while sitting in front of the T.V. set at night.

These are all great suggestions, however we tend to discount their value when we participate in “All or Nothing” thinking. We food addicts are masters at this extremely destructive thought process. It goes something like this,“I am ON my diet today, so I will play by the book. Oops, I overate, now I am OFF my diet. Might as well eat all that I can because I will have to start the diet again soon. Since I am blowing it, it isn’t worth it to exercise. I’ll wait until I am ON the diet again.” This thinking will set us up to CONSUME MASSIVE AMOUNTS OF CALORIES when we are OFF our food plan and gain tremendous amounts of weight. This is one reason that when we “go off the diet”, we will gain back all of our weight AND MORE. We also sabotage our progress by going OFF our diets on weekends, vacations and for special occasions. I appeal to you in this article to STOP GOING ON AND OFF DIETS!

Please begin to accept the fact that you MUST change your lifestyle and maintain it for the rest of your life! No quick fixes, no fancy formulas!You must understand your caloric needs and expend more calories (energy) than you consume. You can do it! You can outsmart the calorie. It isn’t rocket-science. However, we must become students of our own bodies and learn how to eat to become and maintain our bodies at the weight that God intended for us.

If “knowledge is power”, may God empower us by His Spirit to apply what we know in our battle with weight.

This article is by Jennifer Cecil, M.Ed., LPC