1 + 1 = 6?

Peaceful Morning

I was reading the other day how you shouldn’t trust the calorie counters on cardio machines at the gym; they can be misleading, even if you enter your accurate weight and regularly have it keep up with your heart rate. I conducted a bit of an experiment this morning and wore my heart rate monitor while I worked out on the treadmill. After 42 minutes, the machine said I’d burned a whopping 540 calories. Woo!

But not so fast. My heart rate monitor says I burned 384. Which one is correct? I have to go with the lower number, but considering they are using the same information, it does make me wonder. What’s the equation and which one is correct?

Also, do I need a new heart rate monitor? Because if I had the extra $400, plus $80 a month for the subscription fee, I’d be fueling my obsessive compulsive nutrition and exercise hobbies with that fabulous Bodybugg thing The Biggest Loser participants wear. Have you seen those? Wow. (You think I’m crazy now. I’d be super nuts with one of those.)

Alas, it is just simple math for me: calories in vs. calories spent. I’m not sure I’ve got the math down perfectly, (still having a hard time figuring out what I burn on an average day without wearing the stupid monitor all day long) but I am learning more everyday from my trainer, the nutrition blogs I pour over and spending time with friends with similar interests. I am also pushing myself just about as hard as I can go in the gym and loving every second of it. Also? Learning how to eat every 3.5 hours with diligence. It speeds up my metabolism and also helps with portion control. I’m eating fewer calories than the typical 3 meals a day and don’t deal with the blood sugar highs and lows of eating large meals.

I’d love to hear your experiences with nutrition and what’s working for you.


22 Replies to “1 + 1 = 6?”

  1. You know what’s been working amazingly well for me? It’s the biggest “no duh” ever, but drinking more water. I didn’t used to drink a whole lot of water and lately I’ve been drinking a crap ton. Now since my tummy is full of water most of the time (the constant bathroom breaks are a total drag, unfortunately), I can get away with eating way less food. Since portion control is my downfall every time, this has really helped a lot. Drinking a full glass of water before I eat has helped a lot especially.

  2. Kelli, I’m a bit of a healthy eating junkie (contradiction in terms?) myself. But one thing I am not, well two things actually: I am not a calorie counter and I am not a special diet kind of person. When things start getting nitpicky I throw everything to the wind. For me, it has always been moderation: eat less, move more, plant-based diet as much as possible, interval training. A little bit of everything. That said, I love the challenge of always trying to push myself further, find healthy foods that are convenient and that the five year-old will like, step up my workout a notch for that extra benefit. I have tried a few “diets” in my life (not for weight but for health), the most memorable being macrobiotics which was so friggin’ extreme it was a big failure. So everything in moderation for me.

  3. Counting wouldn’t work for me. (And, I don’t believe in scales.) So, thankfully, I have a fast metabolism. I try to get plenty of rest, exercise a few times a week and incorporate good foods into my diet (while still allowing myself small indulgences). That’s it. My biggest key is BALANCE. I abide by “everything in moderation.” But, my real issue is: strength! (You could definitely help me out in the strength and endurance department!) You seem very active and health-conscious to me. Maybe you should be giving us ideas—hehee!

  4. Yeah, not so simple math when you also figure in the types of foods that needs to make up those calories. Protein, carbs, etc.

    I think I’m doing Boot Camp w/ Shay.

  5. (oh, but I’m not letting them weigh me at boot camp. I don’t care how much I weigh, and I don’t want some scrawny little ex-gymnast telling me what I SHOULD weigh. I just want to look good in my clothes. And that stupid bikini in April)

  6. After losing over 40 pounds now, what’s working for me is logging every bite of food that goes in my mouth on SparkPeople. I use their Fitness tracker to estimate my calories burned and go from there. Is it exact? I doubt it. But with my OCD tendancies to log every little thing, if I worry too much about it I’ll lose what’s left of my marbles.

    Hey…maybe that’s not a bad idea! Marbles weigh alot!

    I am also eating every 3 – 4 hours. Which is a lot of work, but at least I’m not hungry and blowing it all the time.

  7. As a health experiment, I’ve been following an “anti-inflammatory” diet. Basically vegetarian, with the occasional sardine thrown in. I lost a few pounds without trying, and have been feeling pretty good. I don’t really need to lose any more weight, but don’t exercise like I should. I keep watching The Biggest Loser, hoping for motivation…

  8. I try to be healthy and wholesome and moderate like Vicky up there, but in reality I go to extremes.

    At work I tend to make lots of lists about the exercise I will do all week and all the vegetables I will eat when I get home. And then I work so late I’m too tired to go to the gym and too starved to do anything but rip into a bag of chips or a bucket of ice cream. Ace is really into bagged salads, which I have pooh-poohed as lacking in nutrition because it’s all chlorinated away, but I’ve discovered an instant salad is a good way to hold my horses while I actually try to prepare something decent. I’ve bought a bunch of Trader Joe’s tetra-pack soups, too, for the same purpose.

    My latest embarrassing technique is this: yesterday I was looking at the too-skinny Lindsay Lohan pictures, and today as I’ve been munching, I ask myself, “Is Lindsay Lohan eating this?” And if I can’t picture her eating it, then I don’t have it. (I KNOW! I KNOW!)

    A friend uses the BodyBug and has lost like 30 lbs. I’m not sure that it is really anything other than a HRM. He still has to log all his food.

  9. You need to get tested. Sorry. If you do the VO2 tests it will measure your CO2 output and determine your anaerobic threshold, etc as well as give you reasonably accurate calorie rates.

    Nick does them at Durapulse

    At the top end of my aerobic range I burn around 750kcal/hour. That is a HR of 148. You can then use those numbers to scale either your HRM or the machine.

    Since CO2 is a byproduct of metabolism it is a good way to go. And it’s a lot of FUN! You get to strap on this uncomfortable mask and then run at an easy pace while the treadmill gets pointed further and further skyward until you can’t go anymore. sounds worse than it felt. 🙂


  10. Oh please — I managed to break my pedometer the first time I tried to use it. (Probably got my $4 worth….)That about sums up my good health in ’09 initiative so far. I am trying to choose healthy snacks, like roasted almonds and Greek yogurt, during the day instead of grazing throughout the afternoon and calling it “lunch”. As you can see, I’m still in the baby steps phase, Kel. 😉

  11. So many of my activities don’t come with a counter (well, everything outside the gym) and I don’t have a monitor I can wear, so I’m trying hard to focus on eating only when I’m hungry and then slowly and only until full.

    This whole common sense thing must have *something* to it, right? We’ll see.

  12. Well, I try to do all the right things: eat a balanced diet that is heavy in plants, go to the gym 4-6x a week, get lots of sleep, stay hydrated, and relax my brain from stress when I can. However, my big problem is the 8+ hours a day that I sit on my rear at work! I often will sit on a yoga ball at my desk, but I’d love to know some good “desk-ercises” that I can do so that i don’t feel as though I am turning into a slug. Any suggestions?
    BTW, I totally admire your drive and commitment to your fitness and health, kelli. That’s awesome and truely inspirational to read about.

  13. I’m terrible at keeping up with an actual diet or even a structured eating plan, but I find I do well with healthy snacks (almonds or fruit usually) around 10am and 3pm to keep me from drooling every time I pass the snack machine at work. I generally try to avoid desserts but sometimes I do better than others. Mostly I ask myself – is this worth it? Grandma’s homemade pie, yes! Store bought cookies, NO.

  14. Good work – I should be doing some math myself right now – 🙂 What’s worked for me in the past is to focus on the calories math and just set exercise goals without worrying about exercise math. The exercise stuff just seems complicated – I know some days I burn far more playing volleyball than other days in the same amount of time…

  15. Everywhere I look someone at my gym has those bodybuggs. They are talking about them non-stop. Truth is, I don’t want to know the truth. I’ll have to stop eating chocolate if I’m informed. Ignorance is — in this case — bliss.

  16. This is my year to get healthier – physically, mentally and financially. I’m focusing on a couple of areas a month.

    For December it was drink more water and eat breakfast, phone my family in Australia more often, and put 10% of my take home salary into a savings account.

    For January:
    Mental – Take at least an hour a day for me doing something for me not for someone else (I’ve been reading more)

    Financial – Sort out our life insurance

    Physical – exercise at least 20 minutes every day. And eat more often. That was weird to get used to, especially as I do need to loose weight. But I was finding that I would get really hungry around 4pm and raid the vending machines, or stop at a drive through on the way home.

    So now I eat breakfast at 630am, a snack at 930am, lunch at 1230pm, another snack at 330pm and dinner when I get home home around 630pm. I’m keeping nuts, luna bars, fruit, cheese triangles and peanut butter in the fridge at work.

    So far it’s working. The afternoon crash and burn is happening less frequently, and so are the sugar cravings.

    I don’t count calories because it drives me insane. But I am writing down everything I eat, the time I eat it and the reaction I have if any. Writing it all down is helping me track the sugar highs and lows, and my IBS is improving. I’ve cut caffeine – switched from coffee to green tea, and diet coke to caffeine free diet coke (I know, soda’s bad, but one thing at a time) because I noticed that caffeine would irritate my IBS.

    February is going to be:
    Financial – Write Wills
    Mental – sleep more. I’m often up until past midnight reading or on my laptop and getting only 5 hours sleep. So I need to make a concerted effort to go to bed and sleep more.
    Health – increase the number of fruit and veggies we eat. A minimum of 2 servings with lunch and again with dinner. Decrease the portions of meat we eat in one meal.

    We’ll see how it goes.

  17. heya, kelli! i guess it has been a couple years now, but i lost about 60 lbs doing a very loose interpretation of body for life. it sounds alot like what you’ve got going, honestly. 5-6 small meals/snacks a day, 3 days-a-week: 20 minute insane cardio workouts, 3 every-other-days-a-week: 45 minutes focusing on weight training for either upper body or lower body stuff, with one “free day” off for food as well as exercise(although i think this part was a trick). the workouts were all about pushing yourself to the extreme limits, and of course, they were the first to go. {=o) i only kept that up for about a month … i kept up the eating plan for the entire 90 days though and like i said, knocked off about 60 lbs and have kept if off for the most part for two years with (unfortunately) minimal commitment. i attribute most of the success to portion control and just forming good habits … never counted calories or got into the science of it, but really would like to try it again and stay committed to the plan. if you’d like to check out the bfl books, there is definitely some good stuff in there. i’ve got em still and you’re more than welcome, just lemme know.

  18. Jennifer’s 10-step nutrition plan (really, in no particular order). 1. No scale. My favorite jeans are my guide. 2. Everything in moderation. 3. Be active every chance you get (stairs, not elevator…park farther away…walk instead of drive when you can…exercise most days) 4. Eat to “not-hungry,” not to “full.” 5. Fiber. 6. Water. 7. Quality over quantity, and slowly over quickly. 8. Eat a little bit every 3-4 hours. 9. Love your food. 10. Love your body, no matter what. It’s the only one you have.

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