The Principal of Simple Math
A few weeks back, my friend Joe came to me and asked me, “Stuart, I need your advice on how you started your journey from former body to new healthier you. Did you start walking first?” I told him about my Principal of Simple Math, and I’d like to share it with you too!
AS A RULE OF CAUTION, YOU SHOULD CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN BEFORE STARTING ANY NEW KIND OF DIET OR EXERCISE ROUTINE.
Once you have the motivation to make a change, there are two simple keys that work together to play into the start and success of the journey to a healthier you. I call this SIMPLE MATH.
Simple Math is two straightforward ideas
The first is to cut 250 calories a day from your usual diet (like substituting mustard instead of mayo, skipping the cream in your coffee, other little tweaks, etc.) If you keep track of your consumption, you’ll find that finding 250 calories a day is easy without drastic changes to your diet or trying to starve yourself. It’s just a matter of some small improvements to the choices you make each day. But to know if you are reaching this goal you must keep track. You must write it down or keep a log.
The second part is to burn an additional 250 calories a day (oh, oh, that’s exercise.) That level of calories is not a giant burn off by any means. Anyone can do this in about 28 minutes per day just by getting moving in some fashion. Walking, running, biking, cycling, climbing stairs, whatever will get you moving. Of course, here we are interested in getting you walking and running to burn off those calories and rebuild the muscle you have been missing. As with your diet, it’s a matter of making some small improvements to the choices you make each day and keeping track of your effort.
The Simple Math is those 250 calories less consumed and 250 calories burned each day for a total of 500 net calories per day that you previously were packing in. The good news: 500 calories per day is 3500 calories per week or one pound “truly” lost per week!
The average person will burn about 125 calories walking or running one mile, so two miles a day, or on the elliptical (great place to start) or another exercise will do the trick. According to the laws of physics, it doesn’t matter if you walk or run those miles, as WORK = moving a MASS over a DISTANCE. That’s essentially a fact, although the exact tally is not precisely the same. Those with some extra weight on will have an easier job of burning the 250 calories than those who are not carrying as much extra “muscle” around.
As with anything, don’t try to do it ALL on the first day, but absolutely keep score.
Keeping a log of your workouts is essential (I use an Excel spreadsheet) and the numbers will give you positive reinforcement as you advance along your path. It also helps, in the beginning, to track your consumption to see where you are getting your calories from and then work on swapping out the bad actors for the good actors.
The simple math approach will take the weight right off and you will find you work your way up to stronger and increasing expenditures of calories in your evolving workouts as your body adapts. As you get stronger again, your metabolism will increase as well and it’s a vicious positive circle.
The key is to take some concrete steps in the right direction and to set some specific goals. Like choosing a 5k that’s coming up in the summer as a real target to get in shape for (and to perhaps also support a good cause.)
Regarding mileage and the exercise, we want the log your effort so you can control your ramp up to a routine you can sustain for the rest of your days (with adjustments of course) avoiding hurting yourself in the process (and this torpedoing the effort.)
The general rule is not to increase your mileage (if walking or running for example) more than 10% in a given time period. The good news is there are lots to learn along the way, and you don’t have to know it now in order to get started. Just take a step, like buy some new shoes a used elliptical trainer so you have the convenience of working out with less time invested in driving to the gym, etc.