My apologies for this very long post, but I wanted to share with you the secret of our success. Every pound that Nick and I have lost has been due to a simple formula, which I will explain below. Please bear with me, because I promise it’s so worth it!

We want everyone to know that there is absolutely no mystery in losing weight. There is no magic pill, no special piece of equipment to be ordered, no program to join, and no book you need to buy. All you need is the right tools, and a little determination.

Are you ready? Here it is.

**BMR + Calories Burned Through Exercise – Calories Consumed = Deficit**

Now, what the heck does that formula mean, and how can it help you lose weight?

I will walk you through the formula explaining each part, and use my information to show you how it works. As we go through, I suggest that you write the formula down on a piece of paper and insert your own numbers.

**BMR**

The first number in our equation is the BMR, or Basal Metabolic Rate. This number is the number of calories your body burns automatically during the course of one day (not including any exercise that you do). You can find this number by using the BMR Calculator here. My current BMR (it changes as you lose weight) is 1,731.

So for our formula, I will add that number in.

BMR + Calories Burned Through Exercise – Calories Consumed = Deficit

1731** **+ Calories Burned Through Exercise – Calories Consumed = Deficit

**Calories Out
**The second number in the equation is the number of calories that you burn through exercise. This number can be found two ways. The most accurate way to calculate the number of calories that you burn through exercise is to use a heart rate monitor.

**I recommend investing in a heart rate monitor to wear while you work out.**We will talk more about heart rate monitors in a subsequent blog post, including the specifics of using a heart rate monitor to make your workouts more efficient, but for now, I would encourage you to look for one that includes a feature to count and keep track of the number of calories you burn while you work out. This number will plug directly into the “Calories Burned Through Exercise” in our formula.

Note: I recommend the MIO Drive ($80). Other popular brands of heart rate monitors are Garmin and Polar.

The other way you can track how many calories you burn is to use an online calculator (such as the one found here: http://www.caloriecontrol.org/exercalc.html). This will not be quite as accurate, but it will give you a general figure and good idea of how many calories a certain activity burns.

**Calories Consumed
**The third number in the equation is the number of calories that you consume (yum!). Two important tools for this are a

**dietary scale**and a

**food journal**.

**I recommend investing in a food scale. **Again, you don’t need anything fancy, a simple one will do. This will enable you to have an accurate number to plug into the “Calories Consumed” of the formula. Even if it is a boxed product with nutritional information on the side, it is not necessarily accurate (see photo below). A dietary scale is an easy way to be extremely accurate with your calorie intake. For finding out caloric information about foods, I recommend Calorie King, a website where you can search for a specific food (it even has information about food from restaurants). Calorie King also has a handy book that you can take along with you.

A blank notebook is all you need for a food journal. Jot down foods and their caloric information as you consume them to keep track of the total number. You can be as in depth or as simple as you want.

As illustrated above, “About 50 Crackers” is 150 calories. If you were to use a food scale, you would know if 50 crackers is 150 calories or if it’s more like 47. This is a small variance which will cause you great frustration when you’re standing on the scale.

**Deficit**

As you may know, one pound is equal to 3,500 calories. In order to weigh one pound less when you step on the scale, you need to have a deficit of 3,500 calories. My goal is a loss of 3.0 lbs a week so that’s a deficit of 10,500 calories.

How do I achieve this?

I take the 10,500 calories that I hope to have as a deficit in a week, and I divide it by 6 (the number of days I work out). The answer is 1,750, which is the number of calories I need to have as a deficit Monday-Saturday in order to meet my goal.

I can use this number to create my workout plan for the week. For example, on a Tuesday, my typical exercise is the following:

**Now let’s plug that into our formula.**

BMR + Calories Burned Through Exercise – Calories Consumed = Deficit

1731 + 1750 – Calories Consumed = Deficit

Now, remember that I hope to have a deficit of 1,750, so if I put that number in place of Deficit, I get:

1731 + 1750 – Calories Consumed = 1750

We can rearrange this equation to tell us how many calories we should eat:

Calories Consumed = BMR + Calories Burned – Our Desired Deficit

Calories Consumed = 1731 + 1750 – 1750

Doing the math, I now know that the amount of calories I should eat today is 1731.

Now you know our big secret, and can implement it and start dropping the pounds! If you have ANY questions, or need help figuring your own formula, **please ask! **

…In later posts, we will discuss more specifics about some of the things mentioned in the post today, such as heart rate monitors, food scales, food journals, and advice on nutrition. We will also show you how to use the formula in a variety of ways to maximize your success.

October 3, 2008 at 10:03 am

Very thorough, Becca! I look forward to hearing what you’ve learned about nutrition – always an interesting subject for me.

October 3, 2008 at 2:27 pm

Yay! A comment! I thought I had scared everyone away with this post! š

I am definitely working on a few ideas for nutrition-related posts in the near future.

October 3, 2008 at 4:02 pm

It isn’t scary, but it is eye opening. It is alot of work to loose weight and soooo easy to gain it! No fair!

January 19, 2009 at 1:32 am

Wow! I have not looked at it from your perspective before. Looks like I will have to make some calculations! If you know exactly the amount you need to have as a deficit, it takes away a lot of the guesswork. Thanks for the tips in your post, which was not so long by the way.

My blog is located at http://dietforlife.wordpress.com