Our metabolism is a funny thing. When we are young we can eat almost anything and it never seemed to matter. The endless helpings of ice cream throughout the summer months or that extra serving of creamy mash potatoes are things of the past. Now even looking at these treats put 10 pounds on you. One thinks why does losing weight have to be so hard, but gaining seems to be a piece of cake (or 2). It’s the suck factor. This happens just after you start the diet, you drop 7 pounds in a week and you think, “I’ve got this!” Then you don’t lose any more weight and instead of working through the suck you quit and start the next new thing. Or better yet, you finally join the gym someone walks in looking like they just emerged from a fitness magazine, accompanied by their entourage of airbrush artist and plastic surgeons. You wish you knew their secret. The thing you have to understand is that they are not drinking from the skinny fountain, they most likely eat right, exercise like crazy and have a metabolism like a humming bird.
So, let’s take apart your metabolism, its actually 4 pieces, TEF, EAT, NEAT and BMR. Your TEF stand for Thermic Effect of Food, this accounts for about 5%-10% of our calories burned throughout the day. These are calories burned when you digest your food, nothing more. EAT, stands for Exercise Activity Thermogenesis, this is what we burn from exercise and its about 10%-15% of our daily burn. Next, is NEAT, Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis, these are our daily tasks like walking, showering, washing dishes, this counts for 30% of your day. Lastly, BMR, Basal Metabolic Rate, this accounts for 45% of your day. The biggest piece and most important, these are the calories burned to keep alive.
So, for someone like me I burn about 2200 calories (think like 4-cylinder engine), about 1400 to stay alive and the rest is separated out into the other 3 categories. The more non-active calories I can burn the better. This would take in extra steps throughout the day, doing some laundry or making dinner. To maintain my weight, I eat about 1800 calories a day. I have attached a link that will help you calculate your own BMR and adjust for your activity level. The heavier you are, (think 8-cylinder) the more your burn, the more you need to eat.
Understanding how your metabolism works will help you embrace the suck and find patience with your journey. Stop thinking of weight loss and think fat loss, use measures, pictures and strength grains as goals met. And for the love of God break up with your scale.
Stacie A. Zamperini M.Ed.