I’ve come to realize I am not my body. If you ask me today, “How do you feel?” I will answer, “Terrific!” My body may be experiencing some ache, pain or other illness, but that is my body. The ME who dwells inside this body feels very good. That said, my body ‘houses’ me, and I am attentive to it. The healthier and fitter I keep my body, the better home for ME and the more productive I can be in all aspects of my life.
Our bodies require energy to function. Calories are the energy in food that our bodies acquire when we eat and drink to supply our bodies with the energy they need. When you consume food, only one of two things happens to the calories you eat and drink:
- The are used up as your body converts them to the energy it needs to function, or
- If you consume more calories than your body requires, they are stored in your body as fat and will remain as body fat until you use them up.
That is how simple it is. Your body needs energy for every action it performs from breathing to climbing Mt. Everest and everything in between. The primary sources of energy for your body come from carbohydrates, fats and proteins.
As you consider your weight, remember that your body requires calories. If you take on more than your body requires, you risk becoming fat and the only way to lose that fat is to use it up through exercise or to reduce you intake of calories until your body uses up the excess.
The recommended daily intake for young adults and men is 2,500 calories, and 2,000 for women. According to the Mayo Clinic Staff, my body requires 3,200 calories daily to maintain my current weight. I am classified as ‘very active’ because I engage in vigorous activity (bicycling, swimming and/or hiking) for anywhere between 1.5 hours to 4.5 hours every day or the week. My body would require fewer calories if I was less active:
- 2,300 calories if I am inactive
- 2,550 calories if I am somewhat active
- 2,750 calories if I am active (“30 minutes of moderate activity most days of the week”)
Remember: you WILL gain weight if you eat more calories than you burn. To lose weight, you have to increase your activity level, reduce your calorie intake or both. I suggest you use the Mayo Clinic’s Calorie Calculator to determine your daily requirement. With that number in mind, you can become more conscious and attentive to the calorie intake you experience everyday through the foods you choose to eat.
Regardless of your weight, tVM recommends regular exercise for your body. Whether or not you choose to follow that advice, there are several ways you can manage your calorie intake to maintain a healthy weight. Like everything in this post, they are SIMPLE. You can
- Eliminate a food from your diet that overloads your daily calorie requirements. What may look like a harmless, small, 3 oz. snack bag of chips from the vending machine probably contains more than 400 calories. Say “no.”
- Substitute a food you might regularly eat with a food that contains fewer calories. If you can’t eliminate having that snack [and snacks are good things], try a full cup of raw vegetables like carrots in place of that bag of chips. That full cup is more filling than the 3-ounce bag of chips, but it only contains 25 calories!
- Eat smaller portions than what you have been eating. A 12 oz. tenderloin has 660 calories, but an 8 oz. tenderloin has only 440. You’ll still be satisfied, but you will have consumed 220 fewer calories. I think you get the point.
While I believe every person should engage in some level of physical exercise daily, each individual’s weight is a balance between calorie intake and energy burned, routine activity and exercise. Weight can be managed in simple and intelligent ways. Understand your personal requirements and learn to balance the calories you consume with the calories you burn. Keep you body fit and healthy. The YOU who inhabits it, deserves it.
I invite you to use this menu planner from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute to help you understand calorie counts in food portions.
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