Your BMR, or Basal Metabolic Rate, is basically the amount of energy, or calories, your body expends just to stay alive. This number is very helpful when you are trying to lose weight. We know that one pound is equal to 3500 calories. So, if you expend an extra 500 calories a day, through a combination of exercise and decreasing your calorie intake, in 7 days you will lose a pound. There is a pretty complicated formula to calculate your own BMR that looks something like this: for women: 655 + (4.35 x weight in pounds) + (4.7 x height in inches) - (4.7 x age in years); and for men: 66 + (6.23 x weight in pounds) + (12.7 x height in inches) - (6.8 x age in years). Fortunately, all you need to do is google a BMR calculator and it will figure it up for you. It will give you the option of saying what your activity level is. I always use the sedentary option and that way I can add the amount of calories I burn through exercise to that base sedentary number. For instance, for me to maintain my current weight, I can't eat more than 1800 calories a day. But, if I exercise and burn 500 calories, that means for that day I can eat 2300 calories and not gain any weight, or I can still just eat the 1800 calories and know that I am in the negative which means, if I burn 500 calories each day, in a week I will lose 1 pound. If you figure your BMR with, say, a "moderate" activity level, it's not as accurate, because you may not work out every day, and then you're going to end up going over in calories that day, or maybe you are burning more than a "moderate" level. Once you know your BMR, then you can use some online calculators to enter your weight and the type of exercise you did to calculate how many calories you burned by exercising. Once you have your numbers it is so very helpful to start keeping a food journal. Most of us are very surprised by what we end up eating in a day's time. This is important in trying to find out where your food problems are: is it too much snacking, or too large of portion sizes? Measure your food, also. You would be very surprised by how many servings you are actually eating according to the nutritional information on the food item.
Tomorrow we will discuss what your target heart rate is and why it is so important to hit it when you are exercising. Until then, happy calculating and journaling!!! As always, if you have any questions, please let me know.