Published on May 25, 2012, by meg in Diet, real life, weight loss.

Three years ago, I weighed about 190 pounds – my lifetime high. It’s not hugely heavy for someone my height – 5’8″ – but it felt really terrible and uncomfortable. I can’t say I had never weighed that much before, but I never weighed myself when I was younger, so it’s possible I have weighed more before. Still. There’s something about seeing the number on the scale that brought it home to me – I had to do better work taking care of my health.

I lost about 20 pounds doing Weight Watchers, but ultimately found it too restrictive. I wasn’t dropping any more weight – I was stuck around 170 – and it was frustrating to weigh in every week and have no progress. Plus, I was paying for what seemed like, at the time, nothing.I felt great and was training for my third half-marathon, so I quit.

Going off of Weight Watchers did cause some problems. I went a little crazy and ate and drank my way around Virginia last fall. I had a blast, but it wasn’t good for my health. I gained a few pounds (8 or so) and my running seemed to slow down. We all know how my third half-marathon turned out. So I recommitted to tracking calories and staying faithful to my workouts. I also stopped drinking for the better part of two months. The weight I gained came off again.

Now I’m stuck between 170 and 175. I’ve cut back on carbs (meaning I’m eschewing sandwiches and choosing salads, not that I’m never eating potatoes again), but I’m having a hard time figuring out my calorie targets on a regular basis. My hunger cues are unreliable and I worry about eating too little as often as too much.

Last week, Black Girl’s Guide to Weight Loss posted about basal metabolic rate (BMR) in response to HBO’s The Weight of the Nation.

The quote that really hit home for me:

The existence of a “recommended daily caloric intake,” for me, is laughable and always has been. It has always felt like a scam – similar to the way the sugar industry tried to get the World health Organization to say that sugar could safely be the source of 20% of one’s calories for the day (which is what it says in the US of A) instead of the 10% it says now – and a way for the food industry to manipulate our perceptions of what our bodies need… which, in turn, results in us NOT reducing our intake… which results in them reducing their profits. There’s a very long blog post in there somewhere, but the reality is that giving off any make-believe foolishness that all of our bodies could firmly maintain that glorified under-200lb ideal that we keep hearing about is nuts.

She provides a link to with calculations for determining your own BMR and provides detailed instructions in the post as well. I ran the numbers and here’s what I came up with for a 32 year old woman at 172 pounds.
  • BMR: 1567
  • Sedentary (rest day): 1880 —-> 1380
  • Lightly active: 2037 —–> 1537
  • Moderately active: 2193.8 —-> 1693
  • Intense exercise: 2350 —-> 1850
  • CRAZY exercise: 2459 —> 1959

The second number is the BMR minus 500 calories – the amount most sources say you should cut to burn one pound a week.

BGGW has more details on how to do your own calculations. An important thing to remember is to recalculate the numbers as you lose weight.

I’m going to give this a go for a month. It’s somewhat comforting to have a solid set of numbers to look at. I’m ready to drop these last ten pounds. Partly it’s vanity – I sure would like it if my belly were smaller and my waistline slimmer! – but it’s also about speed and ease of running. I’m much faster and more comfortable than I was this winter and I want to continue to see improvement. It’s hard work and it will take time, but I’m on my own schedule and I’m accountable to no one but myself. I’m cool with that. If I don’t have a lot of success, I might recalculate with some different numbers – the post had some different figures, I think.

Weekly mileage for last week:

Day Planned Actual
Monday Strength training/4 miles Strength training/4 miles
Tuesday 6 miles 6 miles
Wednesday Rest Rest
Thursday 3 miles Three miles
Friday 4 miles 4 miles
Saturday Travel to Houston Travel to Houston
Sunday 9 miles 9 miles
Total mileage 26 26


  1. Friede says:

    While I started exercising and running, I used the LoseIt app to track calories, and lost about 50 pounds from my highest weight (190>140). I stopped running after injury and such, but I’ve still kept more or less 40ish off (hard to figure given surgery, etc.). I use it right now to make sure I’m eating enough to keep my healing on track.

    1. meg says:

      I’ve been using the Livestrong app, which I like a lot in terms of calorie-counting, but I don’t trust it on the exercise numbers (they’re always way, way bigger than they should be, I think. A 30-minute run should NOT burn 600 calories, Livestrong). Maybe I’ll give LoseIt a shot. The 20 pounds I lost seems so easy in hindsight! This last ten seems much, much harder. I keep thinking I’m not trying hard enough, but I’m wondering if my math is off. Or if I’m just gaining muscle, which would fine.