Friday, May 1, 2009

Upping the Ante

This morning I increased the intensity of my morning treadmill work-out. I had been walking at 3.2 miles an hour at a 7 incline for an hour. I increased the incline to 7.5 this morning.

I increased the intensity because my weight has been stagnating at around 128 pounds for the last few weeks, and I want to get down to 120.

When your weight stagnates that's a sign that you have to increase calories burned or decrease calories ingested.

The reason is simple. Suppose you are a 5 foot 5 inch, 45 year old woman who weighs 170 pounds. If you use the calculator here:, you will see that you need to consume 2189 calories a day to maintain your weight.

Now lets say you lose 30 pounds to get to 140 pounds. Then you need only 1903 calories a day to maintain your weight. In other words, to maintain your weight at 140 pounds you have to consume 286 fewer calories a day then you did at 170 pounds.

It also means that if you want to continue to lose weight, e.g., to get to 125 pounds, you have to further cut back on your caloric intake and increase the calories burned through exercise.

So if you hit a wall in your dieting where you are losing no weight, it's because you've reached a caloric equilibrium. What you consume in calories minus was you burn through exercise is just what you need to maintain your current weight. If you want to continue to lose weight, you have to further cut back on caloric intake and increase the amount of calories burned through exercise.

When I started my treadmill workouts I weighed 155 pounds. I started at at 2 incline at 2.5 miles an hour for 40 minutes a day. Since then I've steadily increased the pace, length of the workout and incline as I've dropped weight. I also increased my strength and toning sessions (which I'll write about another time).

My weight stagnating was a sign I needed to further increase the intensity, and that's what I'm doing. Maybe after a week at 7.5 I'll increase the incline to 8 and then I'll try to increase the pace as well.

So the bottom line is that as you drop weight, you have to eat less and exercise more, because the less you weigh the fewer calories you can ingest to maintain that new weight. Furthermore, as you age, you also have to cut back on calories because as you age, you need fewer calories to maintain a given weight. I write about that here:

Yes, losing and keeping weight off is a bitch. There are no easy roads. Just eat less and exercise more.

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