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Bodymedia Link versus Self-Estimation

Friday, March 29, 2013

After more research I bought the Bodymedia Link (BL). The Fitbit Flex seems like a decent option, but won't come out for several more weeks.

I have been tracking the calorie burn that BL claims as well as the calories I self-estimate through a spreadsheet. Over the past week I have estimated 91% of what the BL armband says I have burned. The BL says I should have lost 1.6 lbs, my calculations say 1.2. If I go with a 3-day running average of my weight, I have lost 1.6 lbs. We'll see as more weeks pass.

My goal is to be able to self-estimate accurately. I believe that in weight loss or maintenance, a person needs strategies they can continue for the rest of their life. Wearing an armband and paying to subscribe to a website to analyze the data isn't something I want to do long term! But estimating and getting a feel for my daily activity level is something that is doable.

This has also been helpful because I see the dramatic effect of being sedentary. I got thrown back into a longish episode of seasonal depression when I tried to change the timing of my light therapy to avoid insomnia. When I have SAD very badly, I just want to sleep all the time and end up like a lump on the couch.

But if you are smaller and older, you have two factors against you, because of your basal metabolic rate (BMR) - what you would burn if you just slept all day. Due to these factors, my BMR is just 1272 calories per day. For a sedentary person, the calculation for daily calories burned is BMR times 1.2. In my case, that is only 1526 calories.

Further, I see from the Bodymedia we tend to be creatures of habit, and eat the same amount per day. So even though when sedentary it might be better for me to eat 1300 calories a day, I typically end up eating my normal 1466. 1526 calories burned if I am sedentary minus 1466 calories eaten is a calorie deficit of 60 per day! Since it takes a deficit of around 3500 calories to lose a pound of fat, at that rate it would take me almost two months to lose a pound!!

To lose 1.5 lbs a week, which is my goal, I would need a calorie deficit of 750 calories per day. If I eat around 1450 calories per day, I need to burn 2200 calories each day. This is 674 calories I need to burn above being sedentary... the equivalent activity of running just over 7 miles a day!

Since I am not training for anything, I need to supplement running 7 miles a day with some formal exercise plus other things. Right now I'm putting up about 80 feet of 6 foot wood fence for my sister. That'll do :) I've actually been avoiding training for anything, because marathon training seems to mess up my weight loss for whatever reason.

If you are a larger person, have a lot more muscle tissue or are younger, things are more in your favor. But, we have to work with the cards we are dealt, so I keep on keeping on!

I'm back to 14 pounds to lose after regressing a bit due to the SAD. That being said, I'm at my lowest recorded weight I've been at in years!! Upward and onward...

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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    I hope you do get out to try that Rock Climbing Gym. That'll bring up your calorie expenditure right up, and it's great cross training for runners! (or anyone, really)

    Most people have trouble losing weight while training for Marathons (even 1/2s sometimes). I think it has to do with the sheer amount of energy expended: if you are training, you are regularly burning so many calories, and you can't really improve at the rate you need to if you're shortchanging yourself.

    Good luck!
    1787 days ago
    Great analysis and plans! I do love the feedback my BodyMedia gives me; it is relatively accurate, and it helps me balance my eating with my activity level well. I'm sure eventually I'll stop using it, but until I've successfully kept the weight off for an extended time, I don't trust myself to accurately self-estimate calorie burn vs. calorie intake; that's down the road for me.
    1790 days ago
    MWWENSIN, I do measure bodyfat % and have come down 2 1/2 % on that and it is also decreasing gradually with my weight loss. I don't track my blood pressure aside from occasionally as it has never been out of range, if anything it's on the low side. BMI is in the normal range, but I only have 14 lbs to lose, at which point it would still be in the normal range. Yes, cortisol has effects on weight loss, which is why I am not marathon training now. Too hard for me to lose weight with a high training load.

    I am using the bodymedia because I want to be able to evaluate my calories burned for long term weight control as well as for training purposes. Not eating enough puts a lot of strain on the body and overeating will of course add unwanted pounds. My goal is to be able to accurately self estimate of calories burned as well as assessment how much I've eaten without having to use outside tools or track every bite.

    I avoided the scale for a while but let's face it losing 15, 20 or 30 lbs or more is what it is, of course you want to lose bodyfat but, I am losing weight for running speed and fitting into a size smaller so, the scale is a good guide. I did go for "clothes fit" before without using the scale but ended up looking "pudgy" and that wasn't the look or sports effect I was going for. Bodyfat scales can vary based on hydration and truly accurate ones are too expensive to do weekly or even monthly in most cases. Also with clothes fit and the way we look, etc we can tell ourselves that "these jeans really fit" when they don't anymore, whereas the scale will give a solid number versus a subjective one.

    That being said, you have to use what you feel is best to assess your own progress. Thanks for the reminders.
    1790 days ago
    % body fat is more important to measure than weight The US Centers for Disease Control uses BMI due to its high correlation with % body fat and scales that measure weight are easier to come by than those that measure body fat although their are a lot more of them now I have never seen one in a doctors office before.

    There are also other measures of health such as blood pressure.

    I used the scale a lot to determine how my body reacts. After a warm shower I am always lighter. Studies have shown that the time at which calories are ingested also effects your weight gain. Cortisol level also has an effect.

    Studies are applicable to an average person however the findings can be quite variable for the individual.

    Having said that if you find this study with the body media fit helps you out please keep posting about it. Good luck.
    1790 days ago
    Great analysis. It's all about the numbers!
    1791 days ago
    I love the scientific data, and look forward to reading more about your comparison between the BodyMedia and your personal estimations! I am in the middle of marathon training, and will be tracking my nutrition much more carefully now that I've passed the halfway point. Such a balancing act to eat just enough!
    1791 days ago
  • IRP1114
    Great way to look at things. Hope your estimations are on point so you can meet all of your goals ; )!
    1791 days ago

    HUGS and Happy Easter to you.
    1791 days ago
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