• September 9, 2023
  • Silvia Angér

The great calorie deficit

Those of us deep in the trenches of a weight loss battle are well aware that to achieve the goal of a healthy lifestyle, it will require getting out of our comfort zone primarily adding an activity into your schedule. The career of a professional driver brings its own set of challenges.  Let’s say, you belong to those who have committed to making a change.  In spite of the odd schedule you keep, you’ve masterfully incorporated into your day a 20 – 30 minute time slot either before or after delivering.  You are consistent and get in a bit of exercise.  You are a member of the few who have made the commitment and are quite proud of this positive change in your life.

It has been a solid two months and you are feeling great and are frankly amazed that you’ve stuck to it this long. However, the pride you feel is clouded by a bit of frustration. It is only human to be impatient. As rational individuals, we did not expect our weight to start dropping the first week or two, but surely after two months? It appears as if you’ve only dropped the same couple of pounds which seem to fluctuate up and down. Coincidentally, you begin to feel better. You have more energy and your sleep is better. So, what gives? Why am I not losing weight?

Fact: While exercise helps tremendously with your health journey, it alone cannot do the job of losing it. The list of benefits you get from exercise is long, astonishing in fact, but to lose weight, we have to cut calories. No surprise right?

Understandably, your first impulse is to rationalize that consistent activity should now give you a pass to eat like you’ve always eaten and somehow things will sort themselves out…eventually. Admittedly, there are some people, who without changing their diet at all would, in theory, lose weight. These individuals would have to exercise a whole lot. As a driver, you’d be hard pressed to find the time to squeeze intense training of this sort into your day.

Michael Joyner, a Mayo Clinic researcher who studies how people respond to the stress of exercise, states: “The key for weight loss is to generate and maintain a calorie deficit,” he adds, “It’s pretty easy to get people to eat 1,000 calories less per day, but to get them to do 1,000 calories per day exercise – walking 10 miles – is daunting at many levels, including time and motivation.”

This is when educating yourself on how many calories are in your food selections is critical. For example, a single piece of chocolate cake is between 200 – 500 calories. Most people will burn roughly 100 calories for every mile of walking (with some variations). This gives you an idea how long it will take you to burn off that slice of cake.

The good news? The exercise you’re doing is singlehandedly the BEST thing you can do for yourself. You will improve your health in several ways.

It strengthens your heart and lungs. It reduces the risk of Type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome, a collection of symptoms that include high blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat around the waist and abnormal cholesterol levels.

Running strengthens your bones and muscles. Having strong bones prevents osteoporosis. We’ve all heard of older individuals breaking a hip. Strong bones come from weight-bearing activities. Walking counts too, you can run when you feel up to it, but walking is great too.

Exercise lifts your mood and helps keep your thinking and judgment skills sharp. This is critical to the professional driver.

Exercise will help you live longer. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people who work out for about 7 hours a week have a 40% lower risk of dying early as compared to those who exercise less than 30 minutes a week.

The takeaway: Stay the course and exercise consistently. Begin to focus on a reduction of calories in your diet. Knowledge is power, download an app to help you track what you’re currently eating (like MyFitnessPal or Lose It). You will be surprised at the number of calories being consumed. In order to maintain your current weight, you have to continue to consume that same number of calories. Once you see what you are consuming, reduce that number by 500 and stay there for a week before coming down again. An average woman needs to eat about 2000 calories per day to maintain, and 1500 calories to lose one pound of weight per week. An average man needs 2500 calories to maintain, and 2000 to lose one pound of weight per week. Once again, multiple factors come into play, but you get the idea.

Congratulations on your commitment to improve your health. Stay the course. Never stop learning. Be patient and you will reap the rewards of your effort.

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