There’s a reason I can’t lose weight. No more excuses.

Hi and welcome to my weight loss blog!

First off, let’s start with a confession.  I am a yo-yo dieter.  I lose some weight, I gain some weight, I take up an exercise hobby, I shun said hobby.  Until now, I have never taken full responsibility for my inability to shed the pounds.  Losing weight should be easy, right?  Eat less and exercise more?

So why can’t I lose weight and keep it off?

Me at my heaviest circa 2007
Me at my heaviest circa 2007

There are a lot of reasons cited by failed dieters as to why they can’t lose weight.  I’ve used a few of them myself.

“It’s my genetics – my whole family are overweight”

“I eat healthy and exercise often, but no matter what I do the weight just sticks around”

“I think I’m in starvation mode, I hardly eat anything and seem to GAIN weight”

A few months ago, I still believed these were true.  Some people just can’t lose weight because they have a genetic predisposition to be overweight, they’re “just built that way”

However, I’ve realised something these past few months.  Do you know why I can’t lose weight?  Because I eat more calories than I burn off.  

It’s really as simple as that.  Calories in < calories out = weight loss.  

If you asked me 3 months ago why I can’t lose weight, I would say something like this:

“I don’t eat unhealthily, I have 3 healthy meals a day.  Sure, there’s days where you have a pig-out or go out for a 3 course meal, but in general I’m a pretty healthy person.  I go to the gym, I run, I do lose a little bit of weight but I really should be smaller than I am for the lifestyle I have.”

But, do you know what?  It’s not really true.  Here’s the honest, no-nonsense, full-accountable-for-my-actions, read-between-the-lines REAL answer:

“I don’t eat unhealthily, I have 3 healthy meals a day (but not every day, some days I have a healthy lunch and then a McDonalds.  Some days I eat very healthy meals but snack all day in front of the TV.  Some days I run a 5k and treat myself to large pancakes, even though there’s tons more calories than I ran off).  

Sure, there’s days where you have a pig-out or go out for a 3 course meal, but in general I’m a pretty healthy person (I don’t track how often I pig out or have 3 course meals, I think occasional healthy eating forgives all manner of calorie-fests).  

I go to the gym, I run, I do lose a little bit of weight but I really should be smaller than I am for the lifestyle I have (I do go to the gym, and enjoy it, but I’ll have weeks where I go 5 days and then I’ll not go for 3 weeks.  I’m not consistent).

I don’t track my food.  I have no idea how many calories I eat every day.  I shouldn’t be surprised when I don’t lose weight as I don’t know if I should be losing or not

It stops today.  Today is the first day of my new project – project me.  Project lose-weight-and-stop-making-excuses.  Project say-no-to-yo-yo.  Now, I’m a scientist by trade, so the natural next step for me is to document my journey and take advantage of the glorious opportunity to track trends and metrics as I go.  It’ll be fun, I promise!

This is my journey.  This is my promise to myself:

  1. I will track everything I eat.  If I didn’t make it or I can’t accurately work out calories, I won’t eat it
  2. I will use a food scale to weigh things that I can’t track through packaging information
  3. I will aim to lose 1lb per week, with calorie goals calculated using TDEE.

If we look at weight loss like an experiment, I know what the science TELLS me should work.  But does it?  Let’s find out!

Me today - all 185lbs of me
Me today – all 185lbs of me

So what’s this TDEE thing you’re talking about?

TDEE stands for Total Daily Energy Expenditure and is basically the minimum amount of calories that you need each day to survive, taking into account how much you exercise.  Eat more and you’ll gain weight, eat less and you’ll lose.  To calculate your TDEE, you need to know your height, weight, age, gender and the level of activity you typically do.

For me:

  • Height: 5’4″
  • Weight: 187lbs
  • Age: 31
  • Gender: Female
  • Activity level: Light exercise (1-2 days per week)

There’s a handy calculator to figure out your TDEE online at tdeecalculator.net.  If you’re into numbers like me, you can work it out using the following equation (called the Mifflin-St Jeor formula):

Female: [(10 x weight in kg) + (6.25 x height in cm) – (5 x age in years) – 161 ] x activity level 

Male: [(10 x weight in kg) + (6.25 x height in cm) – (5 x age in years) + 5 ] x activity level 

For activity level, choose from the following:

  • Sedentary (little or no exercise, desk job): 1.2
  • Lightly active (light exercise or sports 1-3 days per week): 1.375
  • Moderately active (moderate exercise or sports 3-5 days per week): 1.55
  • Very active (heavy exercise or sports 6-7 days per week): 1.725
  • Extremely active (very heavy exercise / physical job / training twice a day): 1.9

My TDEE comes out at 2,128 calories per day.   Most resources recommend that to lose 1lb per week you should have a calorie deficit of 500 per day – so this gives me a daily calorie estimate of (*drumroll please*)

1628 calories per day

So that’s it, the start of my journey and my blog.  Science says that if I track what I eat and stick to the plan (no excuses), I’ll lose 1lb per week.  I’m testing this hypothesis, and I’d love you to join me as I begin this journey.  I’m losing it for science!

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