Suffice to say, I really, really love having a heart rate monitor! I have been using it to turn myself into a bit of an algebra problem, and I have had some surprising results! Initially, as detailed in my last post, I planned to do four days of "all day" wears of the HRM to gauge my calorie burn. I was planning to do one day at work, one day at home all day, one day at home with a normal gym workout, and one day at home with my yoga/pilates class as part of the day. In thinking further about this, I decided that two days would actually be enough...one work day and one home day.
The first day was Saturday, which was a day that I worked my usual 12-hour shift as a nurse (I work in the NICU, for those who don't know that already). I put the HRM on in the morning when I got up and took it off when I felt myself falling asleep that night. I ended up wearing it for sixteen hours total, and I then gave myself an estimated calorie burn (100 calories per hours) for sleeping the other eight hours of the 24.
I didn't have any real idea what the results of this little experiment would be. Recently, I have been cutting back on the calories I was eating because of this plateau I have been on, and I figured that this might confirm that this was the way to go. I did some quick math to decide that a 500 calorie deficit per day should result in roughly one pound of weight loss per week, with a 750 calorie deficit leading to 1.5 pounds and a 1000 calorie deficit leading to two pounds lost. I sort of thought I would burn somewhere around 2600-2800 calories in 24 hours on a workday, and this would lead me to aim for 1600-1800 calories of intake per day for a 1000 calorie deficit.
Well, I was a little off there. I did burn about 2600 calories (2640, to be exact), but I burned all that during my 16 awake hours. On a day like that one, eating 1600 calories resulted in an 1800 calorie deficit. NOT enough food! A one-way ticket to "starvation mode," really. It was shocking to see, but I was so glad to have that information! Based on that day, I have decided that my calorie goals for a workday will be about 2400 calories. That is roughly a 1000 calorie deficit, so even if I am overestimating the calories I burn while I sleep (which is information I found on several different websites, so I tend to believe it's close to the true amount), I should have plenty of a deficit to lead to weight loss.
In further thinking about measuring my calorie burn on a non-work day, I decided that I would wear the HRM for eight hours to get an estimate of my calorie burn per hour while hanging out at home, and then I would double that to allow for 16 hours of awake time, still allowing for eight hours of sleep at 100 calories per hour of sleep. After seeing how many calories I burned during my workday, a lot of which involved spending time sitting at a computer and charting, as well as sitting by my patients' bedsides for a good portion of the day, I really thought I would see some major calorie burn, even at home. However, I spend a lot of my time at home sitting, either on the bed while watching TV or reading or at a table with my netbook open in front of me. And the results of those eight hours really showed how different that is!
In eight hours this morning, I burned, according to the HRM, 867 calories. Doubling that and adding in the 800 calories for eight hours of sleep suggests that I burn as my base on non-work days roughly 2500 calories in 24 hours. This is more what I was expecting for my base calorie intake! Allowing for a 1000 calorie deficit leads me to aim for a 1500 calorie intake as the base on my non-work days. Going with this plan, I will also eat back most, if not all, of my workout calories on these days. Today, I burned about 750 calories during about an hour and ten minutes of cardio (including cool downs and transition time from the Arc Trainer to the elliptical), so adding that to the 1500 calories led me today to aim for 2250 calories of intake for a 1000 calorie deficit.
So there's my plan. I am going to aim for about 2400 calories per day on the days that I work a 12-hour shift, and I am going to aim for 1500 calories per day, plus the calories I burn in my workouts, on the days that I don't work. I am hoping that this will jump start my weight loss and start me on a downward journey once again. I am finding that it is a little difficult to hit these calorie goals for me so far because I am so used to restricting myself throughout the day, but I am sure this will get easier. I am going to continue to try to clean up my eating as well, which will definitely help.
The only other question I had for myself is what I would do about these calorie goals once I started losing weight. I decided that I would take some cues from the Weight Watchers program on this one. Back in the day, when I first did the Points program on WW, every time you lost 10 pounds, you ate 2 Points less in calories each day. Assuming each Point is equivalent to 50-60 calories, I am going to lower my calorie intake goals by 100 calories per day for each ten pounds I lose.
It feels so good to have a plan that has some sort of concrete information behind me! I am a little concerned that I might find myself gaining a little weight as my body gets used to getting more calories, but I am feeling confident that my body will start dropping weight again soon.
I have also started setting some fitness goals, but this post has gone on (and on and on and on) for long enough, so those will be saved for another day. Make it a great day, everyone!