Wellness Pathway #251 The Energy Balance

In the movie Super Size Me, passers-by were asked the simple question, “What is a calorie?” Many answers bordered on the ludicrous, while most did not know that a calorie is a measure of energy equal to the amount of heat required to raise the temperature of 1 gram of water by 1 degree Celsius at 1 atmosphere pressure. That same energy, 100 of which will bring 1 gram of ice to a boil, will also make us fat if we do not balance the equation of energy in and energy out.

Unfortunately for those who love to eat, it is far easier to take energy in than to take energy out of the human body. We typically take energy in through our food and drink. We take energy out through our daily activities. The more active we are, the more energy we expend, and the more calories we can afford to consume.

Not all of our activities are visible to the eye or audible to the ear. It takes energy to pump blood, digest food, breathe air, and even to think. This represents our base metabolism, and the bigger we are (in both height and weight) the more energy it takes to stay alive from day to day. That’s why large people can eat more than small people, without gaining weight.

Exercise and other activities represent an added expenditure of energy out. By adding our base metabolism calories together with our activity calories, we can end up with a pretty good idea of how much we need to eat to gain, maintain, or lose weight. And even minute differentials add up over time. It takes a difference of about 3,500 calories to gain or lose one pound. At that rate, an 11-calorie stick of gum, chewed every day, will make us gain more than a pound over the course of a year.

So what’s a person to do? We have to keep an eye on the energy balance. The mindful awareness of energy in and energy out will assist us to make better decisions. And we have to decide what is the best way for us to do that. Some people enjoy tracking quantity of calories they eat, replete with online and handheld calculators, stopping when they reach a critical threshold. Others enjoy tracking the quality of calories they eat, with lists of allowed and disallowed foods, stopping when they reach a problem food or food group.

That is the approach being practiced by today’s featured client. She has more or less eliminated dairy, flour products, and oil in order to reduce both calorie consumption and hunger cravings. Not surprisingly, this approach has assisted her to lose about 10 pounds in a month. More importantly, she is learning a new way to shop, cook, and eat that will assist her to more easily maintain her weight over time.

If you want to reach and maintain your optimal body weight, then paying attention to the energy balance of calories in and calories out will be critical to your success. A computer program that I like, which calculates your caloric requirements and includes an extensive food database, is called The Diet & Exercise Assistant.

But I also enjoy the freedom that comes from knowing the healthy foods I can eat, any time I want and with more or less reckless abandon, without triggering an appetite attack that would throw my energy balance, and my weight, out of whack.

Coaching Inquiries: Are you mindful of the energy balance in your life? Would you prefer to pay attention more to the quantity or to the quality of the foods you eat? What are the healthy foods for you? How could you best reach and maintain your optimal body weight?

To reply to this Pathway, use our Feedback Form. To learn more about our Wellness Coaching programs and to arrange for a complimentary wellness coaching session, use our Contact Form or Email Bob.

May you be filled with goodness, peace, and joy.

Bob Tschannen-Moran

President, LifeTrek Coaching Internationalwww.LifeTrekCoaching.com
CEO & Co-Founder, Center for School Transformationwww.SchoolTransformation.com
2010-2011 President, International Association of Coachingwww.CertifiedCoach.org

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