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CONCRETE ILLUSTRATION
Jane's Personal Weight Loss Program

Remember Jane? As we have mentioned, Jane weighs 200 pounds and is only mildly physically active. Therefore, Jane's Daily Calorie Requirement for maintaining her current weight is 2,400 calories (2,000 calories for her Basal Metabolism, and another 400 calories for activities of daily living).

As discussed previously, the Basal Metabolism is approximately equal to 10 x Body Weight (in pounds). This and other weight loss equations are discussed in detail under Scientific Weight Control Facts

getting-in-shape

Let's say now that Jane decides she wants to loose weight, and sets her target weight at 140 pounds. In other words, Jane wishes to loose 60 pounds.

We will follow Jane in this endeavor and see how she manages her weight loss program:
To start with, Jane reduces her calorie intake by 500 calories per day. This means she is now eating only 1,900 calories per day (instead of the 2,400 calories she was eating previously). Eating 1,900 calories per day is a feasible goal. For now, Jane won't cut back more on her food intake, since she believes she wouldn't be able to sustain it in the long run.
Instead, Jane chooses to exercise. She wants to burn another 300-400 calories daily by exercising. She chooses brisk walking for 40 minutes on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, alternating with body building exercises (weight lifting) for 30 minutes a day on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. She decides to take a break from exercising on Sundays, in order to allow her body to recuperate.

So in conclusion, Jane will create a calorie deficit of 500 calories per day by cutting back moderately on her food intake, and another deficit of 300-400 calories per day by exercising. With this, she can expect to loose about 1.5-1.8 pounds per week.
Since her goal is to loose 60 pounds, it should take her at least 30-40 weeks to complete her weight loss program. In other words, if all goes well, Jane can expect to reach her target weight in 7-9 months.

After the first 2 months, Jane has lost 12 pounds. She now weighs 188 pounds. Based on this new body weight, Jane recalculates her Daily Calorie Allowance as follows: First, she calculates her new Daily Calorie Requirement at her current weight (how many calories she would need to eat in order to maintain this weight). This equals her weight in pounds times 10, plus 400 calories for activities of daily living = 1880 + 400 = 2280 calories. (Note that Jane's doesn't include her exercise in her activities of daily living.)

After establishing her Daily Calorie Requirement for weight maintenance, Jane deducts 500 calories from this number, to find her new Daily Calorie Allowance for continued weight loss. So, Jane's new Calorie Allowance is 1780 calories per day. This is slightly lower than before, but doable.

For the next 2 months, Jane respects her new Calorie Allowance of 1780 calories per day and continues exercising as before. She notices with amazement she feels less hungry than before, now that she has eliminated junk food from her diet and is sticking with health foods. At the end of 2 months, Jane has lost another 23 pounds. (Her weight loss seems to have accelerated, and the pounds are coming off more rapidly.) She now weighs 165 pounds, and has 25 pounds to go to her target weight of 140. All in all, her weight loss program is coming along quite well.

Jane recalculates her Daily Calorie Requirement for her new weight of 165 pounds, and finds it to be 1650 + 400 = 2050 calories. She deducts 500 calories from this number and establishes her new Daily Calorie Allowance at 1550 calories per day.

For the next 2 months, she tries to respect this new calorie allowance, but often feels hungry. Most of the time, she ends up eating 1600-1700 calories per day, which is in excess of her Daily Calorie Allowance. She continues her exercise routine as usual. At the end of 2 months, she has lost another 12 pounds. However, most of that weight loss occurred during the first month, and her weight seems to have stabilized thereafter. Jane is now only 13 pounds away from her target weight of 140 pounds, but can't seem to go any further. She has hit a weight plateau at 153 pounds. To bring her weight loss program to completion, she has to find a way to overcome this stumbling block.

At this point, Jane does not attempt to decrease her Daily Calorie Allowance any further. In fact, she increases it slightly to about 1700 calories per day, to avoid feeling hungry. As a matter of principle, however, she still wants to loose the last 13 pounds.

By this time, Jane is a lot trimmer than before, and her fitness level has increased significantly - both benefits of a well-conducted weight loss program. Body building exercises have helped her build lean muscle, and walking has increased her stamina. So Jane decides it's time to take on a more challenging exercise schedule: She replaces walking with Tae Bo (a combination of aerobics, boxing and martial arts) for 40 minutes a day, 3 days a week. She continues her body building exercises as previously.

Over the next 5 weeks, Jane looses the last 13 pounds. She is now at her target weight of 140 pounds and looks great. The active weight loss phase of her weight loss program has concluded. The entire process took slightly over 7 months.

At this point, Jane enters the weight maintenance phase of her weight loss program. As such, she must now calculate her final Daily Calorie Requirement necessary for weight maintenance. Since no further weight loss is desired, this will also represent her Daily Calorie Allowance. In this calculation, Jane must now include the calories burned by her daily exercise. She decides to restructure her exercise routine, to make it less demanding. She will therefore walk at moderate pace for 30 minutes a day, 3 days a week (which can be expected to burn about 200 calories per day), and she will lift weights for 20 minutes a day, 3 days a week (which can also be expected to burn about 200 calories per day).
Therefore: Jane will burn 200 calories per day exercising. Throughout the day, she will burn 400 additional calories performing activities of daily living. Her Basal Metabolism will burn about 1,400 calories per day (since she now weighs 140 pounds). Adding up these numbers, Jane's Daily Calorie Requirement is 200 + 400 + 1,400 = 2,000 calories, and this is also her Daily Calorie Allowance in order to maintain her current weight.

Over the next month, Jane sticks with this program and notices a slight weight gain of 5 pounds. It's possible that in fact, Jane's basal metabolism doesn't burn 1,400 calories per day but slightly less, or that her exercise burns slightly less than 200 calories per day. This only goes to show that average numbers must be adjusted for individual purposes.

Jane reduces her Daily Calorie Intake (Daily Calorie Allowance) to 1,800 calories per day, and continues her current workout schedule. Over the next month, her weight returns to 140 pounds and stabilizes there.

Sequel:
Jane is a young woman. In fact, she's 26. She has a long life in front of her, and doesn't want to poison it with unnecessary restrictions. She likes to socialize, including going out. In particular, she loves to go to Starbucks, more so for the atmosphere than the coffee. On Friday nights, she likes going to a bar with her friends. She isn't ready to give up those pastimes, just because they may be harmful to her weight. Especially now that she looks great, she would like to flaunt it.

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Jane is a smart girl, so she wastes no time learning the "tricks of the trade". At the coffee-shop, she learns to stay away from the Frappucinos. It's no big deal to her, since a non-fat cafe late or a non-fat Cappuccino are just as enjoyable. Jane also learns how to navigate the world of restaurant food: She goes for salads with fat free dressing, she stays away from the croutons and cheese, she declines the Margarita offered by the waiter (or at least declines the refill), she orders mostly grilled or broiled dishes with vegetables or rice, and eats about half the portion on her plate. She won't touch restaurant desserts except coffee. She knows that in fact, her weight loss program is an ongoing process, and all this is part of her weight loss program.

Jane has also learned to frequent bars where she can dance, instead of just sipping alcoholic drinks. Dancing allows her to show off her new body, while burning calories at the same time. Regarding alcohol drinks, she knows they are highly caloric, especially the mixed drinks containing added sugar and/or cream. She makes sure to avoid those drinks. At most, she will have a glass of wine, a light beer, or a gin and tonic prepared with a low-calorie mixer. If she feels like having more than one drink, she orders a diet soft drink. All in all, she finds that the appreciation she gets for her looks is worth these small sacrifices.

In this way, Jane keeps her weight loss program (or rather weight maintenance program) on track, day-in day-out.

However, down at the core, Jane is a free spirit. She doesn't like the idea that she absolutely can't have certain foods. So she learns the art of "compensating" for an occasional overindulgence. If she has to have that brownie à-la-mode, she will cut a couple hundred calories elsewhere in her diet, and/or she will work out an additional 15-20 minutes. She will do this preferably the same day, or, if that's not possible, the next day.

In conclusion:
Jane has become an expert at tweaking the rules of weight control. Without much effort, she manages to maintain her weight and body shape over the years. Her friends envy her looks. To them, it seems that Jane is one of those lucky few who stay thin regardless.

Please note:
Jane's story illustrates the ins and outs of a well-conducted weight loss program - both during the initial phase of active weight loss and during the phase of weight maintenance that follows. Both phases are equally important, and both must be mastered in order to succeed.



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