Tuesday, February 5, 2013

A Note on Numbers

When I started off on this weight loss effort, I was obsessed with numbers - how much did I weigh, how much did I want to weigh, how many calories should I burn each day, how much should I eat, etc. etc. It was insane, but I loved it because I felt like there was an exact science to it -- Create a 3,500 calorie deficit and you'll lose 1/2 a pound that week.

Sounded great.

In reality, it wasn't so.

There was a lot of information out there, but they were all estimates and possibilities -- weight loss and getting healthy was not an exact science. It took some trial and error to figure out what would work for me -- I'm still going through the process.

I recently started wearing my heart rate monitor again during my morning workouts at the gym. I kinda wanted to see how many calories I was burning, not just during my cardio but also during my weight training.

I do love my Polar heart rate monitor, but I have to say that I take the numbers that register with a large grain of salt. I don't use the numbers as ones that factor in my daily allowance of calories. In fact, I've pretty much stopped counting calories (that's something that I stopped during the Whole Life Challenge. When you're eating clean and healthy, the numbers didn't seem to matter as much, though I still watch my portions.)

I sometimes read blog posts about people burning over 500 calories while vacuuming the house (are they doing burpees while they vacuum??), or 770 calories while doing 1 hour of Zumba. I know I work my butt off at the gym, but I rarely see numbers that high. Sometimes I see even more insane calorie burns - 1,500-2,000 calories burned in one day within 2 hours. It just seems a little unbelievable to me.

For example, during my morning workout, which involves a total of 35 minutes cardio (including HIIT) plus 45 minutes of weights & about 10 minutes of general conditioning of stretching, I'm burning about 450 calories. I was rather surprised and thought that given the intensity of the exercises, I would have been burning more. It doesn't seem like a lot, but I know that I'm putting in a lot of effort into my workout.

I'm actually not too bothered by the numbers. I was just curious. I never exercise in order to eat more. I really think that type of thinking is detrimental, especially since I doubt the numbers on these machines and monitors are that accurate.

It was just a little note since the number caught me off guard. However, I'm continuing my routine - both in terms of exercise and eating, and I hope that this month is as successful (if not more) than last month.


I went through today feeling like I never really woke up. I was just tired. Actually, no. I wasn't tired. I was just sleepy. Does that make sense?

I got about 6 hours of sleep last night, which is really, really good for me.

I found myself yawning as I drove to the gym. I definitely did not want to go to work. All I kept thinking about was crawling into my warm bed and sleeping.

I did take a nap in the afternoon, but I ended up feeling sleepier. Getting to Sidekick Academy for Taekwondo and Jiujitsu class was a struggle, but I told myself: Just do it!! and I reminded myself of the adrenaline rush post-exercise.

Of course, I'm really glad I went. We learnt a really cool move in BJJ class and I can't wait to practice it some more! :)

I'm so glad that I'm going to get an extra hour of sleep tomorrow morning -- I need it!

Grading in my Gi: Earlier today - I got to Sidekick Academy a bit early so 
I made the most of it and got a bit of grading done before warming up

Today's Workouts
Cardio: (35 minutes including HIIT)
Weights: NROL Workout 5B
MMA training: Taekwondo & BJJ (1 1/2 hours)
Stretching: 20 minutes
Burpees: 70

Today's Food
Breakfast: Banana & 2 teaspoons of peanut butter
Lunch: Baked cod with mixed vegetables (same as last night's dinner)
Dinner: French bean and slow roasted tomato salad with baked salmon
Snacks: 3 dates, 1/4 cup raw nuts


  1. "Are they doing burpees while they vacuum?" -- LOL...I know...I feel so bad for the poor bloggers who put 100% faith in their little electronic gadgetry, or what a website says, or what their friend told them their workout is "worth." You know what you're doing, PP. You eat a good diet of a variety of nutritious whole foods, and you work out hard every day. One blogger who disappeared quite a while ago claimed to having burned 350 calories assembling a climbing toy for her cat. *SMH*

    1. Thanks Norma. I'm determined to reach my goal and it finally 'clicked' that no gadgets are gonna help me do that. Just pure hard work and sweat!

      lol - assembling a climbing toy? That's definitely taking it too far.

  2. LOL... housework to burn calories? Not for me, thanks. I know that at my body weight, walking/jogging/running 1 miles ~ 100 calories. I burn ~100 calories every 10 minutes when I swim hard laps. Biking is a little harder, but I estimate approximately ~100 calories per 10 minutes there too. In the end, though - as long as I get my workouts in, and watch what I eat, I'll be fine. :)

    You're doing awesome, and I'm so glad you don't let the numbers rule you!

    1. I totally agree - workout & watch what you eat. Can't beat that combo :)

  3. Hi Dr. PlumPetals! Really great post! Yes, these kinds of gross-overestimates of calorie expenditure during activities is one of the big reasons why many people "plateau" at such a high weight. It is delusional thinking. Even during hard workouts, I pretty much do understand that I'm "fuel-efficient," meaning that I don't burn off nearly as many calories when exercising as people tend to estimate.

    I have been watching calories more--because I've found that there are so-called "healthy" foods that are actually too high in calories (ex. whole grain breads) and "unhealthy" foods that are not as bad as people would think. Such as mini-chocolate chips. So small in size and calories, I can eat them with no guilt. I do the daily calculations (without considering exercise at all in the equation)and it adds up to weight loss.

    I like how you eat. And how you exercise. Your formula is wonderful.

    :-) Marion

    1. Thanks Marion. I think the bottom line is that you've got to work hard and trust that your efforts will show (on the scale and on your body) instead of solely relying on gadgets because they can be inaccurate.

  4. LOL..Vacuuming and burning calories..
    I don't bother with the calorie I burn either, as long as I'm putting in the effort I assume it will work towards my goal. One thing I do is know an approximate number for each type of exercise..(if I jog at a constant speed how much do I burn, if I walk upslope what is the difference..and what if I do interval training) This is usually helpful when I'm tired or have less time and still want my usual workout effect

  5. I know that I personally burn over 1000 calories in a 1-Zumba class (according to a BodyBugg). People who weigh more (like me) also burn much more. I don't pay much attention to the actual calories I burn, though, because I never "eat them back." I just log my activities into MyFitnessPal so that I can keep track of how many minutes I'm working out each day.

    1. I know that some people do burn a lot of calories - and that depends on so many factors, their body composition, their intensity, etc. My main point here was to be aware that sometimes, even when the calorie burn is low (such as during a heavy weights lifting session) it doesn't mean that your workout is ineffective.


Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment! I can use all the support I can get :)