4A-HEALTHY-BMI   42,114
40,000-49,999 SparkPoints
4A-HEALTHY-BMI's Recent Blog Entries

Who's hand-rolling sea kayaks on both sides now?

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Oh yeah that's right. *I* am! LOL ;-)

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

MOBYCARP 12/30/2011 7:31AM


If I go watch the Flower City Challenge Paddle Tri event on 4/28/2012, will I have a chance of seeing you in a kayak?

Report Inappropriate Comment
KRISZTA11 12/30/2011 5:00AM

I'm sure you are safe on wild waters too!

Report Inappropriate Comment
WOLFKITTY 12/29/2011 11:48AM

    Wow! Awesome! Looks like it takes a lot of core strength.
You're pretty amazing! :D


Report Inappropriate Comment
KAYOTIC 12/29/2011 10:38AM

    emoticonGuess that shoulder is feeling better now!

Report Inappropriate Comment
MIRAGE727 12/29/2011 9:27AM

    Way to go, Wonder Woman. Make 2012 your best year ever! Take me to inspiring new heights!

Report Inappropriate Comment
CRYSTALJEM 12/29/2011 9:25AM

    You make this look so easy! A friend of mine and I were talking about this over the holidays since he has just accomplished this feat. I'm inspired! Thanks.

Report Inappropriate Comment
KELLIGIRL523 12/29/2011 7:49AM

    That is TOO cool! You are incredibly inspiring!

Report Inappropriate Comment
WATERMELLEN 12/29/2011 7:32AM

    Hey, yay you! Gives all new meaning to "I've looked at life from both sides now . . . "

Report Inappropriate Comment
ERIN1957 12/29/2011 7:25AM

    wow I am impressed, I so want to learn this!

Report Inappropriate Comment
TAMPATINK67 12/29/2011 7:04AM

    That's NICE! emoticon

Report Inappropriate Comment
BREWMASTERBILL 12/29/2011 6:58AM

    Very nice! You make it look effortless.

Report Inappropriate Comment
TRULYVISIBLE 12/29/2011 6:47AM

  Good job. Have fun out in the waters. Great upper body workout.

Report Inappropriate Comment

Figuring out YOUR personal calorie burn. Accurately.

Friday, December 23, 2011

I read a lot of blog posts and forum messages from people who feel confused and dismayed about plateaus and slow weight loss. Knowing your personal total calorie burn is important so you can figure out how much to eat - so you can set up an appropriate calorie deficit for losing, or set a target to maintain.

There are tools available here at SP for estimating your basal metabolic rate and calorie burn through exercise, etc. Unfortunately they can be wildly inaccurate because they are based on formulas for average humans and not based on YOU, individually.

If you like podcasts, there's a really good one by Leigh Peele about how estimating metabolism is almost more of an art than a science:

This topic comes up with such regularity that I've decided to write a blog post about it, so I can just refer people here when I see it again.


Here is how you calculate your own, individual daily calorie burn rate:

You take the calories eaten and compare it to what your weight is doing on the scale.

Suppose you are eating on average 1600 calories per day and losing about 1.6 pounds per week.

1.6 pounds is roughly equivalent to 3500 calories times 1.6 = 5600 calories. So if you're losing about 5600 calories per week, divide that by seven to figure out your daily average deficit. In this case that is about 800 calories.

So if you're taking in about 1600 calories per day and are 800 calories below your daily needs, that means your daily calorie needs are about 1600+800 = 2400 calories.

Suppose you're eating about 2000 calories per day and gaining about 0.5 pounds per week?

0.5 pounds times 3500 calories is about 1750 extra calories per week. Divide that by seven and it is about 250 calories extra per day.

Those numbers would mean that your total burn is about 2000 - 250 = 1750 calories per day.

Suppose you are eating about 2100 calories per day and have been at a plateau for about 2 weeks. That makes the math really easy. It means you're burning roughly what you're eating, 2100 calories.

This principle is laid out in beautiful detail in the Hacker's Diet online

We also have a Spark Team about this:


There are a few requirements to make this work. And you need to apply them consistently over weeks in order to figure out what is going on with your body.

1) You need to have a fairly consistent exercise routine. If you collect the numbers while training for a triathlon and then try to apply them during a 2 week cruise in the tropics, your estimates will be off.

2) You need to track your food. ALL of your food. And you need to track it accurately. If you don't know how much you are eating, you can't figure out how much you are burning. Because I love accuracy so much, I weigh everything I eat; using cups and teaspoons isn't as precise.

Here is a blog post about using a scale to track your food:

3) You need an accurate estimate of your weight. Daily fluctuations due to hydration can be as much as 2%. Weighing yourself once a week will help you see a downward or upward trend, but it won't take out the +/- 2% error problem for each measurement.

Because of this I like to use a weighted moving average of my daily weight. There are a number of free sites that can calculate this for you.




I personally like physicsdiet.com but the site appears to be down at the moment.

There are links to iphone and Android apps that do this in the links at the Hacker's Diet spark team:

Or you can use the principles of the Hacker's Diet and make your own spreadsheet as I have done over at Google Docs: docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=

However you do the tracking of your weight and food, you need to do it accurately and consistently. The better your data, the more clearly you will be able to understand the results.


So, after a week or so, figure out your average calories eaten and how much you're burning or storing based on your weight. With those numbers you can calculate an appropriate deficit. Most sources recommend a deficit of about 500 calories per day to lose about a pound a week.

We can safely lose about 1% - 1.5% of our weight per week. www.sparkpeople.com/myspark/t
During the year that I lost 160 lbs I ran a deficit of more than 1000 calories per day without much problem.

Now that I'm back in maintenance range it's even more important to have accurate estimates for my calorie needs - I have to know how much to eat!

That first example above is actually me. I've been eating about 1600 calories per day and losing about 1.6 lbs per week. My plan is to raise my eating target by 100 calories each week. So next Monday I'll target 1700 calories per day and see what happens. The week after that I'll target 1800 calories per day.

Since I started about 800 calories below my needs it should take about two months to stabilize, assuming my activity levels remain about the same. I estimate that I'll lose about 7 more pounds during those two months, and it should taper off to almost no weight change from week to week.

If I get sidelined by injury or illness my burn rate will drop. If I end up being more active than this my burn rate will go up. So I'll be watching the numbers carefully.

Here is a graph of my estimated calorie intake and burn. You can see that it varies somewhat depending on my activity.


Just for reference, this is a typical week's exercise for me:

M - Tae Kardio at lunchtime, Body Pump Class in the evening
Tu - Spinning in the evening
W - Tae Kardio at lunchtime, Body Pump Class in the evening
Th - Tae Kardio at lunchtime, Spinning in the evening
F- Rest, stretching, sometimes a deep tissue massage
Sa - Playing outside (kayaking, XC skiing, snowboarding, road cycling, etc.)
Su - Playing outside (usually kayaking or road cycling)

*I wear 5 lbs on each ankle & wrist for Tae Kardio. I take the seat off the spin bike and do the whole class standing and hovering. I lift as heavy as I can in Body Pump without losing form.

Having said all this, I need to add a disclaimer that this whole endeavor is not really about the number on the scale at all. The number on the scale is just a convenient, rough indicator. What I really care about is body composition and athletic performance.

How you control that is with WHAT you eat, and HOW you burn your calories. And tracking it is a much more difficult can of worms.

Here's a blog post about tracking body composition:

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

GARDENCHRIS 3/22/2014 8:45AM

    very helpful info and laid out so even brain dead people can understand it! emoticon Thanks!

Report Inappropriate Comment
DRAGONFLY02 8/30/2012 2:15PM

    Checking out the Hacker's Diet. Hmmmm, as an engineer I'm thinking this program might be a good fit for me. We shall see.

Report Inappropriate Comment
DRAGONFLY02 8/30/2012 1:23PM

    Very interesting information, thanks for sharing.

Report Inappropriate Comment
DRB13_1 8/29/2012 3:10PM

    thanks for the sparkmail & for sharing your expertise (YES, your weight loss success makes you an expert!)
I love the final statement - body composition & athletic performance. I am not defined by a number. I am prouder of completing a half marathon than having a number on the scale I think I should reach.
emoticon emoticon emoticon

Report Inappropriate Comment
TINAJANE76 3/23/2012 1:20PM

    This seems like a very reasoned and sensible plan. I'm going to steal your ideas to help my transition!

Comment edited on: 3/23/2012 1:20:58 PM

Report Inappropriate Comment
KELLIGIRL523 12/27/2011 8:54AM

    Confused and dismayed is a good description of me.... I'll be checking out these references. Thank you.

Report Inappropriate Comment
ANDALEX 12/26/2011 1:01PM

    great post! once i get back in a regular routine, i think i will try this. thank you!

Report Inappropriate Comment
FROGGGY13 12/25/2011 1:45AM

    This is great and appeals to the scientist in me. For a while now, I've known there was something off with my equations : either I am burning more than SP says, or underestimating calories. Maybe I should weigh foods. I am very nervous about regaining, but really want to know what's going on.

Report Inappropriate Comment


Report Inappropriate Comment
MOBYCARP 12/24/2011 2:04PM

    Great blog! I was aware of the general ideas, but I'm not rigorous enough to run down the systems that you link to.

I think I'd still have issues trying to track things in fine detail, primarily from my exercise not being totally consistent from week to week; but the concepts you describe are vitally important for understanding what's going on.

Report Inappropriate Comment
RG_DFW 12/24/2011 11:52AM

    Thanks, I've enjoyed the discourse over the last few days. Although I'm starting my tracking-in-earnest during the holidays, it becomes the start of the answer to the last thirty pounds and maintenance thereafter.

I've even started the fitness ladder... thanks for pointing me in this direction!!

Report Inappropriate Comment
KAYOTIC 12/24/2011 8:48AM

    Great blog and links! Can't wait for the next installment....

Report Inappropriate Comment
WATERMELLEN 12/23/2011 9:57PM

    Providing this detail and these links is a wonderful service: and your explanation is so clear, precise and logical.

Thank you!

Report Inappropriate Comment
CCKELLY3 12/23/2011 8:18PM

    Oh boy, a bunch of new toys to play with if I decide to go a few more pounds. I've always found ways to enjoy the tracking process, mostly by the charts and graphs to show the progress as well as being able to look back at trends, which over time give real insight into how your body works best. But it never occurred to me that part of this is that I like accuracy-- just like you, I've been weighing my food by the grams for the past few years, and charting that way, and have had great success with it. So much so that even though I've been in maintenance for almost a year now, I still like to do most of my at home food that way, whether I need to or not.

Anyway, glad to hear you're doing well and on track! And thanks for the new tools and ideas of how to think about this- seriously, like new toys! :0)

Happy holiday!

Report Inappropriate Comment
BREWMASTERBILL 12/23/2011 4:10PM

    "What does prompt me to adjust my calories is hunger. Real hunger strong enough to make it hard to fall asleep or something. If that happens I up my calories the next day because too much of that tends to lead to binges for me. "

I'm noticing this pattern in me this go around. I can keep them pretty well under control, but yesterday I ate at maintenance because the hunger was getting in the way of making a living. Today, I'm able to go back to a deficit without issue. I guess this is a point for the calorie cycling folks.

Report Inappropriate Comment
BREWMASTERBILL 12/23/2011 4:09PM

    I think another fancy pants word I was looking for was "adaptive thermogenesis".

Report Inappropriate Comment
4A-HEALTHY-BMI 12/23/2011 4:04PM

    Yep, it's true the BMR can confound the burn when you're estimating exercise calories.

And unless I'm doing something super strenuous like cycling 100 miles in a day or something, the calorie burn estimates from the HR monitor don't track at all with the overall estimated burn rate. I still track it anyway because it helps with affecting body composition, but that's a different issue.

Usually when I dropped two or three pounds in a day it was related to hydration; because I'm using a BIA scale to estimate % body fat and that measurement is hydration-dependent, I can usually tell; a rapid drop in weight is usually accompanied by an apparent jump in % body fat (which isn't real, but just because I have less water in my system than usual).

So I don't adjust my calories on the basis of that because it usually levels out eventually.

What does prompt me to adjust my calories is hunger. Real hunger strong enough to make it hard to fall asleep or something. If that happens I up my calories the next day because too much of that tends to lead to binges for me.

Report Inappropriate Comment
BLUE42DOWN 12/23/2011 3:23PM

    I use the Hacker's Diet log for tracking my weight daily and love being able to view the Trend rather than obsess about the ups and downs. It does have some very good information.

One thing I've found by reading SparkPeople's own articles is that the more active we are, the more possibility the calorie burn numbers will be higher than accurate.


Because those numbers INCLUDE the basal metabolic rate. We don't stop burning calories through normal living functions while we're exercising. For someone who works out 20 minutes a day, the padding is minute. For someone who works out 2 hours a day, it really adds up. (This is also why they don't have categories for things like sleeping, washing dishes, and the like. Those are part of the usual expected BMR.)

I definitely adjust on the fly, usually within my calorie range, but based on calories over the week and how much adjustment I want. When I suddenly drop 3 pounds one day and another pound the next, I start eating higher in my range. As it levels out, I drop back down to the middle. Sounds crazy to some people, but I actively work to AVOID a Trend higher than 2 pounds a week - preferring to be 1 to 1.5 pounds a week.

Comment edited on: 12/23/2011 3:25:03 PM

Report Inappropriate Comment
CHIEFRYAN 12/23/2011 12:23PM

  Thank you for your post. You put a lot of good information in one place. emoticon

Report Inappropriate Comment
4A-HEALTHY-BMI 12/23/2011 12:05PM

    Excellent point.

This is one reason why I'm not "done" after figuring out my current caloric needs. Not only might my activity levels change, but my burn rate does seem to respond to the amount of calories eaten.

I've seen that before, in my chart:


When I eat more, my overall burn seems to increase.

Comment edited on: 12/23/2011 12:06:33 PM

Report Inappropriate Comment
BREWMASTERBILL 12/23/2011 11:48AM

    I like it. I went a similar path when I was trying to find my maintenance calories. I ran into 1 problem that might cause some confusion (I mentioned in the HIT group many moons ago) and that is the equilibrium line is not linear. In other words, I could (from what I could tell) consume within a range of calories, say 2200-2400 per day and keep the same weight. So wth, 2400 calories is more than 2200 so what gives? I thought it was calories in/calories out. Well, it still is. I came across people with similar problems and the current theory flying around is NEAT. More calories = potentially more semi or totally involuntary action. More foot bouncing, higher core temp for example.

So just wanted to point out that little potential variable.

Report Inappropriate Comment

Woot! Solidly back in maintenance range!

Monday, December 19, 2011


I use Physicsdiet.com to track my weight because it calculates a weighted moving average, smoothing out the fluctuations. (Depending on how much salt I have, I can fluctuate up to 4 lbs from one day to the next.)


My actual scale weight this morning was 154.8, the lowest I've weighed since March 2010 and 0.2 lbs under the center of my current goal range (155). My range is +/- 3% centered around 155 (150.4 - 159.7). It's based on the logic spelled out in this research paper: ikeepitoff.com/2011/09/maintenancede

I have a friend who thinks I'm probably going to settle out at a weight around 145. I think that's his medical opinion, but it might be his opinion as a kayaker, since he's both. We'll see.

My % body fat has been dropping nicely too.


In this general range I have gotten my body fat under 20% before and I'm shooting for that again.

So I'm continuing to aim for 150g of protein a day and continuing my heavy strength training alternating with cardio. I'm increasing my daily calorie target to about 1600 calories for now (up from 1500) to slow down the weight loss a little.

OH, and a kayak news flash. Now my hand roll is solid in the pool on my "on" side in my playboat and I got one on my "off" side last night!

And yes, I'm still paddling. Outside. In 29 degrees F.

That kayaking trip to Costa Rica next month is looking better and better. LOL

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

THETURTLEBEAR 12/22/2011 11:28AM

    Way to go! Thanks for the great links to the articles on body composition assessment options. I decided to get a scale like yours and do periodic comparisons.

Report Inappropriate Comment
JOAN_HEO 12/21/2011 1:23PM

    Great blog and even greater results! BIG congratulations to you. I'm so jealous that you can still paddle!

Report Inappropriate Comment


Report Inappropriate Comment
KAYOTIC 12/20/2011 10:50AM

    Fantastic! I have to admit I love those graphs....

Report Inappropriate Comment
CTINAARTISTA 12/19/2011 3:31PM

    Great job!! I love the graphs!!! And your progress is so inspirational!

Report Inappropriate Comment
KHAYNES_WDE 12/19/2011 12:55PM

    I love the PhysicsDiet Trackers too! Haven't logged in lately... I should!

Report Inappropriate Comment
TAMPATINK67 12/19/2011 10:17AM

    Bonding moment - I'm a geek about tracking my data too!

Report Inappropriate Comment

Would I even recognize me? (old pics and videos)

Thursday, December 15, 2011

This is a time-lapse I took of myself, playing with my cats in the spring of 2008.
(The black and white cat is the one who died of old age a couple weeks ago)

This is also from the spring of 2008.

Here's a picture of me in December 2005.

I did have good times then. Life definitely wasn't horrible. I traveled, I had friends, I had hobbies, and I had a satisfying job. I knew how to have fun.

I still do. It's just a different kind of fun, now.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

ELYMWX 1/3/2012 11:01PM

    Actually, I think I recognize the eyes and the forehead, and the smile in the pink top picture. The rest, not so much. My wife's made several comments about how when most men lose a lot of weight they become unrecognizable (myself included) but how when most women lose a lot of weight they look like thinner versions of themselves. You are, I think an exception to that observation...

Report Inappropriate Comment
WOLFKITTY 12/29/2011 11:58AM

    Wow, right? Sometimes it is mind-boggling!

Report Inappropriate Comment
RUSTBUCKET1 12/27/2011 11:03PM

    How impressive. You are just living life. What a joy to see your success! Thanks for sharing. emoticon emoticon emoticon

Report Inappropriate Comment
BOATER_CHICK 12/20/2011 8:47PM

    That is great! I can't wait to go and boat with you again this coming year. No matter what we will be on the Tohickon!

Report Inappropriate Comment
KARENDEE4 12/18/2011 9:36AM

So inspiring!

Report Inappropriate Comment
LUVMYCRAZYKIDS 12/17/2011 9:59PM

    AWESOME!!....can't wait to be the "after" pics!!!

Report Inappropriate Comment
YOITLE 12/16/2011 6:24PM

    Really inspiring. Thanks so much for posting this. Happy, healthy holidays! emoticon

Report Inappropriate Comment
BLACKROSE_222 12/16/2011 5:50PM

    You have done amazing. Wow, what a transition. I'm sorry about the loss of your cat.

Report Inappropriate Comment
JOAN_HEO 12/16/2011 1:01PM

    Talk about an amazing transformation!! Congrats on all your hard work!

Report Inappropriate Comment
KAYOTIC 12/16/2011 10:23AM

    You have come so far, what a great visual blog....

Report Inappropriate Comment
SALSIFY 12/16/2011 5:26AM

    You've still got the same smile!


Report Inappropriate Comment
SPARKLISE 12/15/2011 8:45PM

    emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

Report Inappropriate Comment
BREWMASTERBILL 12/15/2011 8:02PM

    That is awesome. I can't even imagine the people you've blown away. I only lost 70 pounds and I had one lady tell me that I should call the newspaper. She was serious. I laughed. Like, what would I do when I called the newspaper? "Hi, I used to be a fat dude, now I'm not."?

Report Inappropriate Comment
THISISFORMENOW 12/15/2011 6:30PM

    emoticon emoticon emoticon

Report Inappropriate Comment
MAGGIEROSEBOWL 12/15/2011 6:27PM

    Wow--I think people who didn't know you well would NOT recognize you today. What a change! Thanks too for all your encouraging words on my blogs. I appreciate your words and respect them because you are living what I strive to be--and have been doing it for a while. Sure, I know it's a struggle, sometimes we slip up, but as long as we NIP IT IN THE BUD (as Barney Fife used to say), we can get it under control and not let the problem grow into a HUGE one, like we both had before. As you pointed out--I was not just morbidly obese....I was SUPER morbidly obese. I never want to get close to that category again!

Report Inappropriate Comment
PONYFARMER 12/15/2011 6:03PM

    Was that video all taken in one day? I love how the black cat think he/she is king of the mountain. He so owns you. LOL!

Report Inappropriate Comment
TUBLADY 12/15/2011 6:02PM

    Amazing. What a difference a few years and some weight make.
I know whats it's like, but its so nice to see others make the change to healthy and fit.
Our lives change in so many ways.
Take care and have a Happy Holiday.
Tisha emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

Report Inappropriate Comment
WATERMELLEN 12/15/2011 5:59PM

    Really liked this blog . . . and in particular because you do not "horribilize" your past self, or your past way of life.

It's amazing what you've accomplished: but the essence of who you has not changed, only been permitted to step forward front and centre.

And how.

Report Inappropriate Comment
TMW54812 12/15/2011 4:56PM

    You are one amazing lady! Thank you for sharing, it means a great deal to those of us still working to achieve what you have already. emoticon

Report Inappropriate Comment
TRAVELNISTA 12/15/2011 4:39PM

    I sure wouldn't have recognized you! Your transformation is emoticon

Report Inappropriate Comment
MIRAGE727 12/15/2011 4:17PM

    I know the feeling, Anja. I looked at some old photos of myself, then saw some new ones taken at races. Sometimes I wonder who BOTH of those people are!
Be strong! You are an inspiration. And thank you for being my VIP Team Leader of At Goal and Maintaing. You help make this road so much fun and easier!

Report Inappropriate Comment

The long road to recovery

Thursday, December 15, 2011

I tore my rotator cuff while snowboarding (on ice, of course) at the end of March. They cut it open and repaired it at the beginning of May.

I did PT April - September. By the time they discharged me from PT in September both arms were at half the strength of the uninjured one in March.

I wasn't even allowed to kayak on rivers again until October. I didn't start really being able to do tricep dips and pushups until this month (December).

This kind of thing can really affect body composition.

I have been in my happy weight range twice recently in my life. I'll pick the low points for comparison:

Feb 21, 2010
Trend Weight 155.55 lbs
Trend Lean Mass 129.1 lbs
Trend Body Fat 26.48 lbs (18.09%)

June 18, 2011
Trend Weight 158.98 lbs
Trend Lean Mass 116.79 lbs
Trend Body Fat 40.84 lbs (25.59%)

The difference here wasn't so much diet as it was exercise. I was doing my normal combination of strength and cardio leading up to Feb 2010. In June 2011 I was 6 weeks out from rotator cuff surgery and 12 weeks out from the injury (less cardio and all of the upper body strength training had stopped).

In both cases I was eating about 45% of my nutrients in protein, 45% in carbs (veggies & fiber), and about 10% in fat. If I'd been eating less protein I suspect my lean mass would have been less.

And just for fun, here's today:

Dec 15, 2011
Trend Weight 160.4 lbs
Trend Lean Mass 122.9 lbs
Trend Body Fat 36.74 lbs (23.41%)

I'm getting back there. It's a long road to recovery.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

BOATER_CHICK 12/20/2011 8:51PM

    I think that you are very fit! You rock!

Report Inappropriate Comment
WATERMELLEN 12/15/2011 6:01PM

    Amazing numbers. And: really brings home . . . . it's not just about the pounds or the sizes, it's about the fitness and body composition.

Report Inappropriate Comment
TRAVELNISTA 12/15/2011 4:42PM

    I think you are doing emoticon emoticon

Report Inappropriate Comment
BREWMASTERBILL 12/15/2011 4:19PM

    Very fit soon??? I'd say you're very fit NOW! I don't remember if I knew how tall you were, but unless you're like 6 ft or taller, your current composition is pretty impressive ... 'specially for a gurl! Congratulations and keep up the good werk.

Report Inappropriate Comment
WALIDGAZALA 12/15/2011 9:44AM

You should be fit very soon

Report Inappropriate Comment

First Page  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 Last Page