After suffering a running injury early last year (around March) I was forced to stay off my alternate day routine of running. During these runs I would burn about 1,000 Calories per workout and it was enough to enable me to maintain my weight between 175 and 178 lbs from 2002 until the date of injury. After the injury I only slightly compensated in diet modification for the lost Calorie burn, however due to the high level of fitness that my muscle cells had achieved over the years it took almost 5 months before I started to gain weight appreciably. I started noticing more than usual snug fit in my jeans and tops but it wasn't until August that things started to fall off a precipice as the lack of exercise and the lost fitness in my cells coupled with the maintained high Calorie diet began to take their toll. Nearing the middle of December I gained the bravery to weigh myself and was shocked to find that I had ballooned to 210 lbs. the highest weight I'd been in 8 years. As is usually the case with me I was immediately angry....livid at my failure to maintain my fitness despite not being able to run. The injury had healed sufficiently though by this point that I was ready to engage an alternate work out routine. I decided to research purchase of an elliptical machine.
Elliptical machines are very efficient Calorie burn machines because they engage the whole body much like running does, however unlike running, good elliptical machines have a long natural stride length that ensures zero impact on the knee and ankle joints. The impact suffered by runners is why injuries like mine occur, it didn't matter I decided I would purchase an elliptical and engage a rapid weight loss plan. I set my goal to lose 40 lbs, to go from 210 to 170 in 2.5 months. It may seem like an aggressive goal but I am not new to rapid weight loss regiments. As a college student I was always physically active and worked out with weights, I had the drive to be committed to the task but could I achieve the goal? At my heaviest I was 226 lbs. and embarked on a radical diet where I reduced my Calories to about 1,500 per day and started running every day, I set a goal to lose 50 lbs. in 4 months, I was able to just barely do it. So I have been able to lose large amounts of weight with the necessary effort running and the modification to my diet. Flash forward to the future and it's time to make metrics again.
One really awesome aspect about weight loss is the fact that it is all based in very well grounded Science. Nutritionist can craft plans that ensure nearly precise determination of input Calories based on analysis of foods and use those to determine the necessary Caloric burn during work out routines to effect a negative direction in the weight factor. That said, I only ever did rough approximations of Calories and judged my intake by volume of food rather than type of food. I was careful to keep intake of fatty foods low and to avoid large quantities of starchy foods but I wasn't doing as good a job as I thought. Case in point the latest work out plan.
I received the elliptical on the 15th and put it together on the 18th of Saturday, December 2010. I did a workout right after getting on the machine. The machine was not an expensive one but I felt reasonably confident the reported Calories burned were within the ball park of truth after my 1 hour workouts were complete. From the beginning, in order to gain some additional burn I added a book bag containing 20 lbs. of weight while engaged...it helped me burn on some days a reported 1800 Calories, 2 weeks later the weight of the bag went up again to 30 lbs and Calories burned went as high as 2100. Because Calories have a precise scientific meaning:
"The amount of energy required to raise one gram of water one celcius degree"...times a 1,000.
The physics aside, we know thanks to calorimetry that a pound of human fat contains about 3,500 Calories of energy, thus we can determine based on inputs and outputs the necessary values to effect weight loss or gain of any desired amount. In my latest effort, I knew that I was 210 lbs. and I also knew that I had to lose 40 lbs in 2.5 months. I also knew that I was eating any where from 2500 to 3500 Calories a day. I was burning less obviously as I was gaining weight slowly over the previous few months. The first target was to cut my Calorie intake to a known amount, I did this by adopting a "first meal fruit" diet that I had done 8 years previous when I lost 52 lbs as recounted earlier. I would have about 3 lbs of fruit over the course of an hour or so, I mixed an assortment of fruits, banana, apples, oranges, tangerines, grapes, pears, plums, blueberries, cherries, strawberries, persimmon, kiwi and even the occasional cactus fruit (Opuntia). The first meal fruit diet was instrumental in cutting out over 1,000 Calories per day from my meals straight away. Prior to it's adoption I would routinely have a heavy breakfast of eggs, cheese, ham or sausage, toast with butter and coffee. Replaced by delicious fruits I was taking in significantly more stuff but the Caloric density was much lower...this is the key to efficiently triggering the satiety pathways and preventing glucose peaks in the blood stream (which are bad for reasons I will explain later).
So, starting on the 18th I cut out the big breakfasts I was again having and replaced them with a much simpler fruit combination than 8 years ago. Usually 2 large apples and two large oranges. I knew this would allow me to gain a good 1,000 average Calorie reduction per day input, I then moved on to the lunch and evening meals. In the previous routine I was able to subsist on an amazing diet of a fist full of Chinese fried rice (yes, I said fried) and a skinless piece of Kentucky Fried Chicken (yes, KFC). I was able to be consistent with the portion (a fist full of cooked rice is about 1 cup of rice which most people will inhale without realizing it. I would occasionally have a dessert which was often home made oat meal raisin cookies, no more than 3 per sitting with a small glass of milk. To accompany my meals I had some sort of sweetened juice. In the current routine I only have juice with one meal (dinner), lunch meal is with water only. Also, there is no KFC here or fried rice. I cook my own rice mixture with vegetables and add cubes of lean chicken breast, along with the usual addition of either carrots, peas , corn and brocolli I had a consistent afternoon and dinner meal. Dessert if i have it is usually a simple bowl of Kellogs corn flakes lightly dusted with sugar.
I started the routine and carefully tracked my workouts, writing down the Calories burned the revolutions turned and he date. I used this to track my progress and goal set for the coming days. I am extremely competitive with myself and having an eye on my past performance was a great motivation to do better from day to day. I "felt" as if I could feel a difference after the first week, after the second week I knew there was a difference and by week 4 it was obvious I had shed a great deal of weight. When the 30 day weigh day arrived on January 18, I prepared myself for some level of good news...I was expecting to have lost maybe 14 lbs. it turns out I lost 23 lbs instead! Nothing like a surprise on the upside! I was happy with the progress and now with the loss established I calculated the amount of weight I lost per given interval. 1.55 lbs per 2 day interval. This is great as it allowed me to work backward and determine how many Calories per weight loss value. If I was burning around 1,800 - 2,000 Calories per workout and worked out every day and 1 lbs is equal to about 3,500 Calories I was burning 3 lbs every 4 days. No wonder I ended up losing 23 lbs. after the 30 days. (4 goes in 30 about 7 times X 3 lbs = ~23 lbs...no magic just physics)
After the loss...
So I was understandably elated at the results, I had been quite zealous in my efforts and they paid off to nearly double my expectations. I continued to work out for the next two weeks then 14 days into the second month my elliptical broke. I was devastated! Just as I was getting great traction on my weight loss my machine breaks, I made plans to buy a second machine from different brand and simultaneously arrange for repair of the existing machine. Which ever would happen first I wanted it, so I did both. Eventually the repair was done before I could take delivery of the new machine so I canceled it. It took nearly 3 weeks before I was back in action and that takes me to the main impetus for this post...
Calories in a few choice foods...
So I was curious after the first month I lost 23 lbs, great. Two weeks later I had actually gained 3 lbs. I attributed the gain to build up of muscle in the legs...after all I was using the machine with maximum resistance dialed up and carrying a 30lbs pack for at least an hour. However maybe I could have gotten more out of my diet? I decided to look at my meals in detail and was shocked to discover the following:
Scroll through the list and note the items indicating the Calorie amounts in "cooked" rice of only 1 cup measure. (For some people one cup of cooked rice is a mouthful!) Rice (excluding wild) is at least 550 Calories per "mouthful", one might think this is not bad but in context to other foods it is amazingly dense in Calories. Take for example the delicious and good for you Brocolli:
54 Calories per 1 chopped cup
This is easy 10 times lower Calorie density than the *same* volume of cooked rice! Brocolli isn't called a super food for no reason. It allows you to fill your belly with "stuff" (lots of indigestible cellulose which keeps your gut regular as well) slow down the rate of glucose production (instead of in spikes as occurs with Calorically dense foods like rice) and helps triggers the satiety pathways that tell you to stop eating. Here's another favorite of mine:
The humble and delicious carrot is another super food, providing a very low amount of Calories for a cups volume and doing it with excellent mineral and nutrition content.
Most people have heard these things about vegetables for a long time but context is important. In my daily routine I was having about 3 times the amount of rice indicated above as for the rice I use, a 700 Calorie portion (a mouthful!) I realized that I could effect a much faster weight loss within healthy parameters by simply adjusting my diet so that I have a larger contribution of the vegetables over the rice. So that being established until I achieve my goal I will experiment with reducing the amount of cooked rice I ingest and increase the amount of great veggies. I will do this by simply halving the number of cups of rice added to my regular meal and double or tripling that of the vegetables. This will allow me to cut in half the Calorie intake from the rice and will accelerate my weight loss (there is no other choice as I am still working out the same way through out) I can't wait for the 2 week weigh in to come!!!