I admit it. I don't like to exercise. With 4 kiddos, a church, a homeschool and a house to manage, I have very little free time. When I finally get a moment to myself I just want to curl up on the couch with a cup of piping hot tea and a good book. I want to rest and rejuvenate. I don't particularly want use up my moment working up a good sweat. However, I also know that if I want to reach my physical goals, there is no other way to do it. I can't wish my way past good ol' common sense. Sigh...
As much as I wish it weren't true, there is no way around it. If you want to lose weight, you have to burn more calories than you eat. To be exact, you have to burn 3500 more calories than you eat to lose just one measly little pound. Depressing, isn't it?
You can create that calorie deficit by diet, by exercise, or by both. The most successful plans, and the ones that deliver the best benefits to your health, involve both diet and exercise. To lose one pound each week, you need a calorie deficit of 500 calories each day. If you normally eat a 2000 calorie a day diet, and you choose to diet without exercise, you would need to drop down to just 1500 calories a day (that is harder than it sounds when you look what most Americans eat). You should not drop below 1200 calories, however. Dropping that low for more that a week or two will signal to your body that you are starving. Your body will slow down your metabolism and it will actually make losing weight even more difficult than it already is.
You can also create a deficit of 500 calories each day through exercise. A person weighing 150 pounds would need to walk for a little over 2 hours, or run for 1 hour each day. Or you could just go up and down the stairs for an hour and fifteen minutes every day. If that sounds a bit ridiculous, maybe you should try to get your calorie deficit through both diet and exercise. The benefits to your overall health will be well worth the effort.
To decide how many calories you should be eating, you will need to know your Basal Metabolic Rate (the number of calories you would burn if you stayed in bed and did nothing all day.) This is what your body needs to just stay alive. Then you would need to know your activity level, and how many calories you need to eat to stay the same weight without gaining. And oh, this is getting so complicated. But wait -- there's an app for that.
Fitter Fitness Calculator
These are not my stats, just so you know. I am tall, but I am not 6'2".
Fitter Fitness Calculator allows you to enter a few of your stats (in either imperial or metric), like your current weight, age, height and a few body measurements. It will track your weight, your Body Mass Index, your Basal Metabolic Rate, and your body fat. It even calculates your waist to hip ratio, which is a new measurement doctors are taking as an indicator of your risk of heart disease and other health issues. This app helps you know where you are, and helps you stay on track to get where you want to be. And, oh look. It's free!
Once you know how many calories you should be consuming to stay at your current weight, you are ready for the next app. This app has helped me so much. As many of you know, I had another baby (Pickle Mickle) a little over a year and a half ago. I gained 50 pounds (I know, I know. But I gained 60 with one of my boys and 65 with the other. I take the weight off afterwards. If I didn't I would weigh a whopping 225 lbs. more than I do now. As it stands, I only weigh 10 lbs. more than I did before I ever had any children. And that 10 pounds is coming off, too. These apps are helping me do it.)
My Fitness Pal
My Fitness Pal is a fantastic (and free) calorie tracking app. You plug in a few stats, and choose how many pounds you would like to lose each week (you can choose metric). It will help you set a calorie goal. Anytime you eat something, you just punch it in. There are literally hundreds of thousands of foods, so nearly everything is easily searchable. And if you just ate half of Aunt Mildred's Famous Apple Pie, you can add her recipe. Tracking your food intake is really fast and easy.
My Fitness Pal tracks how many calories you have eaten. If you work out, you can plug that it, too. The app will calculate how many calories you have burned. At the end of the day, it will estimate what you would weigh in 5 weeks if every day were like today. It is a great way to stay accountable, and much easier than writing everything down or looking up the calorie count of everything you eat. Who has time to do that? Statistics show that people who track what they eat lose more weight than those who do not. It is easy to forget how much we nibble throughout the day.
As another added bonus, most restaurant menu items are listed. So you can use this app to make wiser choices when you go out to eat. Mr. Man and I have been shocked by how many calories are in most restaurant entrees. We found out that our favorite "healthy" salad blows my whole day's calories in just one meal, and that doesn't even count the breadsticks. We have also found that many restaurants offer lower calorie, healthy alternatives to their very high calorie fare.
I want to eat, and I also want to be fit and toned, so even though I would rather be doing something else, I choose to work out. One of the things I use is the 5K Runner app. This is like carrying a coach in your pocket. It takes you from being a non-running couch potato to being able to run 5 kilometers in 8 weeks. I am taking longer due to an injury and time constraints, but as I have said before, anything is better than nothing. If you take longer than eight weeks, what does that matter? If your goal is strength and fitness, how much does it matter how long it takes you to get there? Just get up and start doing something.
When you use this app, you select what day of the program you are on and hit start. Then this nice man (aka the coach in your pocket) tells you to warm up by walking. When your warm-up is finished, he lets you know it is time to start running, and when to start walking again. Over the weeks, the running times get longer and the walking times get shorter until you run the whole 5K. You get award buttons for achievements. If you like to run with music, you can play your music with the app, no problem.
You can get 5K Runner Free. It takes you through the first week and a half of the program. I liked the app so well that I purchased the full version for $2.99. I look at the free version as a "try before you buy" version.
There you have it. Three apps I use to keep me on track and accountable. Have a wonderful day!