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  • I'm on my feet doing a labor-intensive, active job most days of the week. Is the calorie range that provided to me accurate for my active lifestyle?

SparkPeople's proprietary software uses a 10-step process to calculate your calorie needs for weight management. If you are new to the site or have not changed your exercise settings, our program assumes that you exercise three times per week for 30 minutes. That activity is built in to your calorie range, as is a daily activity factor: the number of calories you burn by performing normal tasks of living each day, such as walking around, standing, sewing, light housework, cooking, light carpentry, doing laundry, shopping with a light load, child care, washing dishes and more. 

If you consistently work out (running, biking, hiking, brisk walking, swimming, aerobics, and other generally accepted activities that count as planned aerobic exercise) for more than 30 minutes and/or more than 3 times per week, you should edit your fitness settings so that our software can update your calorie range accordingly. 

To edit your fitness settings, go to "my Fitness" (your Fitness Tracker) under the My Tools tab. Click the "Change Fitness Goals" button near the top of your Fitness Tracker page. On the next page, scroll down to the "Cardio Setup" section and select the days and average number of minutes you perform cardio each week. To finish, click the "Save Your Changes" button at the bottom of the page.

In addition to planned workouts, some individuals have extremely active lifestyles or physically demanding jobs that require a lot of extra energy (and calories) to keep up with, such as gardening, landscaping, construction, farming, dance instruction, and heavy cleaning. Especially if you are losing weight too rapidly or feeling low on energy, you may need to increase your calorie range to support your active lifestyle. For these individuals, the easiest way to account for this added activity is to wear a pedometer and increase your calorie range accordingly. Here's how. 

Track your steps for 7 days. Using a quality pedometer, track your steps for a typical 7-day period. DO NOT wear the pedometer when you are doing your planned exercise program, for this is activity is already accounted for. Add up the total steps for the week and divide by 7 to find the number of steps you average each day. Then use the following chart to adjust your calorie range accordingly: 

If your daily average (excluding the steps in your planned exercise) is:

  • up to 9,999 steps, keep your SparkPeople calorie range as-is
  • 10,000 to 11,999 steps, add 100 calories per day*
  • 12,000 to 13,999 steps, add 200 calories per day*
  • 14,000 to 15,999 steps, add 300 calories per day*
  • 16,000 to 17,999 steps, add 400 calories per day*
  • 18,000 to 20,000 steps, add 500 calories per day*

When adjusting your calorie range, be sure to add calories to BOTH ends of your range. For example, for 11,000 steps, you'd add 100 calories to the low end and 100 calories to the high end of your daily range. For instructions to edit your calorie range as indicated above, click here.

If you still find that you are feeling weak, dizzy, light-headed, or low on energy, discontinue the SparkPeople program and contact your healthcare provider or a Registered Dietitian for an individualized nutrition assessment and eating plan that meets your specialized needs.

If you are still losing weight too rapidly (more than 2 pounds per week OR more than 1% of your body weight per week if you weigh more than 200 pounds) after adjusting your range and trying it for 6 weeks, increase your daily calories by 200. Monitor your weekly weight loss; adjust as needed, until you are losing at a safe rate.

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