minus 1,916 equals 527.
Yep, that’s the title of this entry. Check my math. It’s OK.
Subtitled: Donger need food. Go ahead and follow the link. You know you want to.
Anyway, what’s with the numbers?
Well, the 1,916 is what I’ve been working with as my Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR) for several years. If you’re wondering what in the world a RMR is, read this quick primer. Or, if you’re too lazy to read that, it’s simply this – the number of calories that your body needs to survive on a daily basis. You know, basic functions. Breathing; heart beating, thinking, opening and closing the eyes. Nothing fancy.
How did I come up with that specific number? Well, you might be aware of the US guideline of 2,000 calories per day, hence the percentages on the back of that can of soda that is sitting next to you right now. But the problem with that number is that it’s an average for the entire population. Just like that faulty formula to determine your maximum heart rate (220 minus age), which is so vague that it’s meaningless. So instead of using the 2,000 calorie average, there are formulas that can help determine a more specific value. Those formulas are described in the primer.
Anyway, by running my numbers through all of the accepted calculators, I still came up with a fairly wide range of values. But the average of all of them worked out to 1,916. So that’s what I’ve been working with. And it worked for years. All I had to do was to keep track of the calories burned through the day during exercise, add them together, add the 1,916 and that was my caloric intake goal for the day. If I wanted to slim down (like when getting ready for a race), I’d try to stay about 400 calories below that day after day and watch the pounds slowly slide off. If I wanted to maintain, I just made sure I didn’t get too crazy.
Then this year rolled around. Without a change in my exercise or eating patterns, I started putting on weight. Not just a few pounds, but 10 in just a few months. It’d be one thing if I ate a standard American or German diet, but I don’t. And I don’t drink a lot of German beer, since that definitely does not help. One thing that I noticed was that I had fallen off the wagon a bit on keeping track of what I ate. Again, I didn’t change what I was eating, but not keeping track of how much. And even though I was eating all day, I noticed that I wasn’t eating enough. Yet gaining weight.
Actually, it’s a simple concept that I’ve explained to many people over the years that have been trying to lose weight – do not significantly limit calories. Otherwise your body goes into survival mode and hoards every single calorie that you ingest, storing it as fat. But those folks often unwittingly doing that. I know it, but just couldn’t eat enough even though I was trying. At the end of the day, after dinner, as Goddess and I enjoyed our glass of wine and some dark chocolate, I’d finish up the day’s tally and see that, once again, I was in about a 1,500 calorie deficit. No matter that I was eating a few hundred calories every hour all day long, I just wasn’t eating enough.
With a 30-minute bike commute to work in the morning, a 30-minute bike commute home in the evening, then, depending on the day, a 45-60 minute run meant that I was burning an additional 2,300-2,500 calories. So add 2,500 to the 1,916 and that means that I’d have to consume about 4,400 calories that day just to maintain weight. Try doing that without eating processed food or fast food. Try doing that while eating fresh fruit, vegetables and lean protein. It’s very difficult.
On a good day, I was getting up to about 3,000 calories, still 1,500 shy of were I needed to be. So even though I was taking part in some chronic cardio, my body was in starvation mode and hoarding those calories. So the weight has been slowly climbing.
Then I heard that the local hospital was offering metabolic testing. So, me being me, I did a bit of research on it to see if it was valid. I had done some reading a few years ago on it, but didn’t have any place to take advantage of the testing, even if I had to pay for it. And to find out that our hospital offered it for free? Hell, yeah.
After 15 minutes of sitting in a chair with a mask strapped to my face, I found out the real number. Granted, those 15 minutes flew by because I was dead asleep. I’ll nap anywhere.
The real number is 2,443.
So instead of being in about a 1,500 calorie deficit every day, I was actually in about a 2,000 calorie deficit every day. And my body’s been in survival mode.
Donger need food.