Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Number crunching



I always get comments about how many calories I burn.  I am a fan of a practice some don't care for and that is using numbers to motivate me to reach my calorie burn goals for the week.  I know that according to a bunch of different websites that what I burn vs what I eat needs to be around 4200 (apparently not over because it always bites me in the butt.)  I know that for me to reach that goal, I need to burn 840 calories on all of the days I workout minimum.  I also know that for my body it likes to have a rest day before weigh in day.  That means I need to fit in my "formal" exercise in Sunday through Thursday which is where the 840 comes in. I know if I look down at my heart rate monitor and I've got 240 calories to go before my 840 then I don't stop until I hit it even if my DVD is over.  It is very rare I will stop for anything less than 840 calories unless I know I have some sure fire 1000 calorie burners planned the rest of the week.  (Or if my body has been put through the wringer and I need the rest.)  For at home circuits, I require myself to burn 900-1000 because I just feel better about it if I do.  I know some people disagree with that way of thinking because they think it causes you to become numbers obsessed but for me, I find it motivating and the only way to keep me on track to meet my goals for the week.  I know that intensity makes a huge difference in the amount of calories burned and I don't trust websites are remotely accurate for an activity as vague as "high intensity aerobics" using averages.  I know HRM's aren't 100% but they're much better than hoping what a tracking site says I burned is close and finding out the hard way it's not.

All of those numbers above mean something to me.  From my starting weight of 494 to my lowest weight I ever reached when dieting in my adult life (220) to the high end of the "healthy" range for me at 170.  Of course my 4200 goal I need to reach to the 840 I need daily to meet that goal to the 1800 being the low end of my calorie range.  For someone who hates math, I sure have a lot of numbers that are significant to me!  I don't mind though because numbers keep me on track and 99% of the time, keep me honest and personally, I wouldn't have it any other way.

Do you use numbers to motivate you in exercise or figure any activity is good activity no matter how much you burn?

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31 comments:

  1. It is not always possible to find the intensity you need when you do a workout every day. Numbers can motivate more than people realize. Yes it can lead to some obsessive behaviors if not kept in check but seeing progress is sometimes very hard unless you have good solid numbers to back it up.

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    1. I swear, Tae Bo made me want to rip my hair out the other night. This week seems like no matter how much effort I put in, I'm having to really struggle to meet my minimum which I HATE. I'm PRAYING for a buttload of snow this winter so we can ski/shoe and burn some calories in a new way.

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  2. The numbers used to motivate me. When I started exercising and using MFP, it was 1200 cals to eat and how much can I burn in the hour I'm at the gym. The scale mattered, so the number on the scale motivated me. I worked out 6-7 days a week going weeks without a rest day.
    Now, I eat like 1700 a day, upping soon so I can lift better but the number on the scale is eh to me. My motivation is a pair of pants from high school, which actually fit me now but aren't sitting on my hips at the right height.
    My number motivation though would be the number on the weights I'm lifting and my average pace & distance for my runs.
    At this point, I'm not exercising to lose weight anymore, it's my routine and it's shaping my body to be what I want it to be so the number I get from the burn doesn't matter to me now.

    I was actually just thinking about you and had a question that actually relates to this (unknowingly). I love seeing your food journals that you did before with the calorie count of the dinner with the photo. What is your average calorie goal? Since I'm upping mine and some of my staples are getting boring, I was hoping to incorporate some of what you do into my meal plan since they look yummy and are higher cals.

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    1. I envy the place you're in. I can't wait until I don't have to worry about the number on my scale. But as long as there are weight limits on activities I want to do...I trudge on. Let me live vicariously through you for a while. :)

      That's funny, I was going to ask people if they wanted to see food journals again. My calorie range is 1800-2200. I calorie cycle within my calorie range, low-high-low-high-low. Then the following week I might do low-high-high-low-low. I do try to plan at least a day in advance so my food is a no-brainer for me. We've got dinner guests tonight so I took what I knew we were having for dinner then planned the rest of my day to fit around it since it's a low day for me.

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    2. Let me warn you, I do nothing interesting at all! I'm SO jealous of all the trips,events, and crafts you do! I find your life far more interesting! I'm a boring young engineer whose returned to school and lives with her engineer boyfriend lol

      I want the food journals back! I vote yes lol

      I hope you get to the place where all these numbers don't matter as much, you've been kicking ass so it'll be soon I bet!!!

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    3. LOL...the grass is always greener, right? Engineering is super important and super smart work. I can only imagine the conversations you and the BF have! I will bring back the Friday Food Journals in the evening. Gotta sneak a pic outta sight of my dinner guest tonight so they don't think I'm a weirdo. Heh! Too late!

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    4. I liked the food journals too and am looking forward to seeing them again! When you are counting calories it's easy to get in the habit of eating the same things over and over because you know the calorie count. When you share what you eat it gives some new ideas or gives an idea of something to do differently.
      Also, I enjoyed your shopping trip to Trader Joe's. I found things I hadn't tried, but now purchase regularly.

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  3. You know, in general, I just try to keep active. Now that winter is setting in, it's a lot harder for me. My preferred activity is run/walks with the dog. I HATE strength training and avoid it at all costs. I should probably change that.

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    1. Definitely try to get in some strength training. It's SO important for so many reasons from weight loss to building your bones.

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  4. Right now I'm just happy to get in something.

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  5. I'm a numbers person as well, though the past few months I've had to step away from it all together and just focus more on eating healthy and enjoying life. If i get some exercise in, eat some healthy foods, and i'm happy at the end of the day, i've suceeded. Sometimes a small break does my sanity good.

    I also wanted to mention, I made two of your recipes this holiday season. The sweet figgy potatoes, and also your turkey method. The sweet figgy potatoes were an A+++ in our house. Everyone really enjoyed them, and didn't miss the potatoes covered in butter, brown sugar, and marshmellows at all. The turkey came out perfect, and is definately my go-to method from now on.

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    1. I hear ya! I have to take a break from it sometimes but then after 2-3 days I start to feel like I slip on things and I just prefer to go back to tracking everything.

      Soooo glad to hear the recipes were a success!! YAY!

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  6. Its always in the numbers..I am obsessed with it all. I know that some people dont have to be curnching numbers and still lose but some of us need the motivation and also our bodies are tuned to those numbers..so ur doing good way to go..

    take care
    Manasa

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    1. Yes, trust me, I would love to be someone who doesn't have to pay attention to the numbers but with over 100 lbs to go, I don't have a choice.

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  7. I too am obsessed with numbers. I weigh daily, sometimes twice daily, and am constantly counting calories, if not actually tracking them on a website, I do it in my head. When I see a before and after story, I want to know exactly where they started and what they weigh now. I LOVE hearing how many calories you burn every day compared to how many you eat, and how you work to have the 4200 calorie deficit every week. Numbers don't lie. That's why I like 'em.

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    1. I can't do the daily weigh in thing because daily fluctuations are the only constant, I would go insane but I weigh weekly. Nope, numbers don't lie but the whole calories in vs calories out is a lie. On paper numbers might add up but I'll be danged if I haven't gained on weeks I've been perfect!

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  8. Some people do get number obsessed, but sometimes it's nice to see what you can do. It's very interesting how you know how you'll feel after burning so many also! I think you have a healthy relationship with numbers, especially if it keeps you motivated.

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    1. Thanks! I know that if I don't get in that 840, I have to keep on pressing or I just won't feel right about it.

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  9. I'm like you with the calorie intake (1800-2200). I have to monitor that carefully due to hypothyroidism (less calories = metabolic stall)...

    I don't track my calories burned, but have enjoyed reading about how you do it!

    Nitty Gritty Momma

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    1. I like that calorie range, it gives a good amount of freedom and I don't care if I need to exercise for 90 minutes to keep close to it when I'm at goal, I'll do it. :)

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  10. Like you, I hate math but am number-driven. I've decided in my old age that for me it's a form of mild OCD, but since it doesn't feel extreme to me or cause people to comment, it's ok. It also seems to go along with a tendency to be organized, which is also ok. Unlike you, I'm not at present motivated to reach a certain burn goal. Because of what's been going on in my life, I gave myself permission to ignore it all for the past few weeks, and I haven't been on a scale in several weeks. I think when I weigh in again, it will be a good indication of where I'll settle if I ever decide to ignore it for the rest of my life. But for now I know that I haven't reached a weight/activity level/fitness level/size that I'm satisfied with, so for the next few weeks, I'll be back to my metrics. Thanks for this article...I love it when people share the reasoning behind their actions.

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    1. I agree. I have a tendency to rely on the numbers to keep myself in check. It's not that I don't trust I wouldn't do what needed to be done but I need to have a checks and balance system. Good luck on your weigh in. I love it when people can get to the point where the scale isn't the focus. Glad you liked the story behind my reasoning! :)

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  11. I concentrate more on time spent working out vs. calories burned. Which probably isn't the best way to go about doing things. Maybe I need to buy a heart rate monitor, huh?

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    1. It might not be a bad investment just to see if it helps. I'm too cheap to buy something like a FitBit or BodyBugg. But a good old fashioned HRM for about $60 is worth it to see if I'm burning what I think I am.

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  12. I love looking at the numbers! I like seeing how my heart rate affects my calorie burn, and the sheer number of calories I burn on a super long run. But mostly, the numbers I like are the pace and time of my run. It's so motivating to see the numbers improving!

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    1. Me too! I admit I was getting a little half assed working out alone today but then I saw the numbers and put some more oomph into it and was rewarded. Gotta love it!

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  13. I definitely use numbers as motivation. When I do Turbo Jam or go for a walk, it's sort of "meh" without my HRM. When I'm wearing my HRM, the numbers make me feel really great and push me to work harder, go faster, do more.

    I've read lots of studies that say most HRMs measure about 9-13% too high, so I just subtract 15% from my final result and call it safe. :)

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  14. I don't necessarily use numbers as motivation, but the feeling I get when I actually stick to numbers is what keeps me motivated...so maybe numbers do keep me motivated then, huh? I was really dedicated to MFP for several months, and I always felt great when I stayed within my calorie goal. Since our big move our lives have been knocked completely out of whack (excuses, excuses...I know), and I was starting to get really, really upset with myself with the food choices I was making. Now that I've been sick for about a month and a half or two, I'm back to logging my calories everyday. When I stick with my goal I actually feel like I've accomplished something! As for HRM, I couldn't agree with you more. I will never, ever, ever not work out w/o a HRM again!

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  15. I do use numbers as a way to motivate, but mine are simply to exercise (vigorously) 6 days a week and to eat 5-7 fruits/veggies per day. I like tracking the number of days I get it all done. I do not like what I call "blanks", meaning no achievement checkmark. It makes me cranky. :)

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  16. I do like to know how many calories I burn during my work out, but that is about it. I try not to focus to much on the numbers, because it makes me depressed...sometimes. :)

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