Common Myths About Losing Weight

I’m approaching 45 years old now and for the most part I’ve been in good shape all of my life. Like most of you, during the holiday season I seemed to pack on unwanted pounds simply because of the holiday routine of lots of parties, larger meals, changing of schedule due to more activities and most of all a dearth of gymtime. Actually, a more truthful statement would be not scheduling enough gymtime because I simply took in more calories than I was able to burn off.  Even with the mismanagement, I was still able to get back to my normal weight in a relatively small amount of time and I was always able to do it. Then all of the sudden it hasn’t been so easy to do and more surprisingly, well after the New Year the weight hadn’t come off yet and to make matters worse I had developed the ‘man pouch” that even 15 minutes’ worth of sit-ups wasn’t taking away. It was then I realized that I had been taken my health for granted and needed to make some changes. During the course of plotting my changes and making my New Year’s resolutions I found some misconceptions that certainly have impaired my progress that I’m sure others have confronted as well.

Myth 1: ‘I only eat about 1500 calories a day so I should lose weight’

Regardless of whom you speak to, one thing both doctors, trainers, or dietitians will agree upon is that everyone needs energy and exercise. One of the most common misconceptions is that there is this dramatic range in people’s metabolic rates. The truth is that the amount of energy we need is influenced by various factors, but the most important factors are body mass, and what that mass is made up of. A person’s energy consumption can actually be calculated relatively precisely using certain formulae. The only information you need is height, weight, sex and approximate daily activity levels. You can find plenty of online calculators; just search “basal metabolic rate calculator” (this is the number of calories you would require if you were resting all day).

There’s a high probability that your BMR will lie somewhere between 1,400 and 2,000 calories a day – unless you happen to fall into one of the two extremes of very high or very low body mass. The bottom line is that most people use far more than 1,500 calories a day, but even people with extremely low consumption still need significantly more energy than 1,500 calories, which means it’s practically impossible not to lose weight on a daily calorie intake of 1,500 calories.

So the question is, are you eating as little as you think you are? Overweight people have a strong tendency to underestimate the calorie content of their food. Despite the common cliché of the fast food-guzzling, fat person, my favorite meal used to be a large mixed salad with salmon. I ate it regularly, and in my mental calorie journal I would estimate it contained about 500 caloies. When, after many years, I finally weighed out all the ingredients and calculated the actual number of calories they contained, I discovered that the dressing alone, with three tablespoons of olive oil, contained about 300 calories.

The number of calories in the salad itself, tomato, cucumber, red pepper and lettuce was within reason. Mozzarella, though, added considerably more to the total, and the fact that the salmon was fried meant the final tally for this meal was 1,500 kcal – three times the amount I had estimated, and equivalent to the entire daily energy requirements for a small, slim woman.People can hugely misjudge their calorie intake, and overweight people have a strong tendency to underestimate the calorie content of their food. A study conducted in 1992 investigated people described as “diet-resistant”. These people claimed not to be able to lose weight, despite restricting their calorie intake to fewer than 1,200 kcal a day. But it turned out that, in their nutrition journals, they underestimated their average calorie intake by 47% and overestimated their physical activity by 51%. The hard truth is that anyone who believes they “don’t actually eat that much” and then still inexplicably puts on weight doesn’t have a problem with their metabolism, but with their perception of their own eating habits.


More common myths and stores coming up……

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