noun \ˈka-lə-rē, ˈkal-rē\ : a unit of heat used to indicate the amount of energy that foods will produce in the human body
Now, I know that this blog may upset some people and feel targeted to a few others, but that is not my intention whatsoever. I just want to raise awareness, spark your own curiosity and for you to ask questions.
So, in weight loss where does the 1200 calorie number come in? Where did that number come from? As women most of us have heard that we need to eat 1200 calories to either lose weight or to remain skinny. I want to send out a public service announcement that this is soooooo noooooooot truuuuuuuuue for everyone. At all. I really don’t even know where to begin, so I am going to speak from my own experience!! Disclaimer: I am not a nutritionist, just a nerdy social worker that has struggled with her own weight loss and was most recently described as “an info-mercial.”
Therefore, I just want to speak to what I know, but it may not be true for all.
With that being said, eating 1200 calories is not true for all. Have you done this sort of calorie restriction?! We pretty much ALL have, to only gain back what we lost and probably some more! Do you know WHY this happens?! Because you are STARVING your body. You may not feel like you’re starving, physically speaking.. but you may be experiencing other physical and mental symptoms…
So, when you starve, you obviously shed fed… your body needs those calories, to produce energy for the body (calories). When you starve yourself of calories, it needs to be taken from some place.
Therefore, yes.. you will drop weight and probably rather quickly if you restrict calories to this extreme. BUT, as sooooon as you feed your face your body is going to store that food. And it’s going to store that food as fat. Don’t believe me? Google it.
So, my experience. I was informed by a professional that I needed to be at a 1200 calorie diet. Okay. I didn’t question it, but looking back I want to know where this number comes from. So, being the nerdy social worker, non-nutritionist that I am… I googled it.
And there’s no real answer; other than it’s the number between keeping our body energized and being in starvation mode. Simple.
Back to my experience… I stuck to this 1200 calorie diet and did well, weight loss speaking. I was tired, unmotivated, cranky, had headaches, etc. Who doesn’t have those symptoms with two young children? I lost weight and I lost it quickly. At the same time as starving myself I was doing an abundance of cardio… burning MORE calories. Burning more energy. It caught up with me, quickly.. and I gained it back, not all, but some. Enough. Enough for me to say “enough is enough” and start over. I didn’t restrict my diet though. I did research, surprise! I started lifting and doing less “cardio-only” work; with my weight training was a portion of cardio with it.
Today, I couldn’t tell you how many calories I eat. But I can tell you that I am officially down 38.3 lbs from when I first started entering my weight into MyFitnessPal (March 2012). I LOVED that app and I swore by it, because it worked at first. I only use it now to track my weight and I will never ever count calories again.
Since this summer I have collected every fitness magazine there is for women. But I only use them for the workouts (ideas) and recipes (ideas). And in each of them are articles on how to burn calories the fastest; it’s what we are looking for and CONDITIONED to look for. Think about it, how did you originally learn that 1200 was the number? Even myfitnesspal encourages that number. I would much rather you speak to a number of professionals, they all have their opinions, as to the number that’s most appropriate for you. And it’s interesting, because myfitnesspal vs. fitbit, vs. whateverotherappgadget will all tell you differing numbers. Look it up.
But in my boyfriend’s magazines or in lifting books it doesn’t mention calorie restriction or burning calories.
Therefore, like with most of the media, I am soooo annoyed with the misinformation fed to us by the media about how to be fit, what weight loss is, what fitness is, what works., etc. All of these quick fad-diets, pills, energy drinks, drops, shakes, etc…. It’s soooo frustrating to me. When people ask me my “secret,” what I do, what I did…. I say, eat a lot. And I do. I eat every 2 hours. Literally.
Nothing like warming up chicken breast in your office at 10 am in the morning and being asked how much chicken I can possibly eat in one day. I guarantee you it’s more than 1200 calories worth (well, not all chicken, but brown rice and bell peppers with it!).
I just want women to see that we do not need to skip meals, restrict our diets, be miserable…etc. Look into eating unprocessed foods, natural, organic, lean meats..etc… That’s not to say I don’t eat “junk.” Panera has my name all of it. Every morning. With it’s caramel latte.
We NEED calories. We need energy for our body. Our body is a machine and we need to fuel it. If we don’t, it stops working, it gets ill, we’re more receptive to getting illnesses (physical and mental) when we are starving.
The best advice I can give to anyone.. and for those that have asked me already know the answer that I give… don’t starve yourself. You want to lose inches, eat more and lift heavy, do cardio.. but don’t starve yourself.
I’m not saying I eat a HIGH calorie diet, I don’t even know.. what so ever. I portion control. I eat lean meats. I eat lots of veggies… and I also did my research around a different scientific method of weight loss/muscle gain called “If It Fits Your Macros.” For some, it’s too much.. but I took the underlying message and went with it. We need high protein and we still need fat and carbs. I’m not going to go there, unless you want me to.. in that case, hire me as a life coach, lol. Seriously. I won’t mind doing the work for you to show you what you need to be eating, even creating a meal plan for you. I can give you an idea of what I eat on a daily basis and what’s worked for me.
The bottom line is the fact that our bodies are machines and they need to be fueled appropriately. We wouldn’t put kerosene in our gas running cars, so don’t put shit into your body that doesn’t belong and will only make it spit and sputter….
and most importantly, don’t restrict it. We wouldn’t expect to get to a destination in our car across the country on a quarter tank of gas….
Just a tid bit of info that I found in my research, that makes most sense to ME:
Find your activity level below (“And Your Number Is...”). Multiply your weight by the number indicated. (You may fall between two categories. If that's the case, adjust the number by adding a point or so.) The result is the number of calories you need to maintain your weight. Let's say you weigh 135 pounds and do light exercise one to three days a week. Multiply 135 by 13.5 to get, approximately, 1,800 calories. If you want to drop some pounds, try cutting out 250 calories a day. In a year, if you make no other changes, you could be 26 pounds lighter. Exercise more and you could lose more, too.
And Your Number Is…
You exercise: Almost never
Multiply your current weight by: 12
You exercise: Lightly, one to three days a week
Multiply your current weight by: 13.5
You exercise: Moderately, three to five days a week
Multiply your current weight by: 15.5
You exercise: Vigorously, six to seven days a week
Multiply your current weight by: 17
You exercise: Vigorously, daily, and you have a physical job
Multiply your current weight by: 19
Our mindsets need to change… really. When you getting ideas to “lose weight” you really should be looking up FAT LOSS…there’s a difference. I keep trying to inform people how bad the scale is.. I hate the scale for defining success. Our scales may not budge because we are gaining muscle pounds, but losing fat pounds. We need to pay mooooooore attention to the non-scale victories… Have any questions about that, refer to my blog post entitled “Numbers.” We let numbers define us too much, to the point of using a number to define our eating habits.