Week 1: Setting goals and gathering data

This week is a great week to think about what you want for the next year, and to gather some data about what you are already doing.

It’s great to get to know where you are at, in order to know where you want to go.

Gathering data

Nutritionally, a good place to start to grab some basic data about yourself is to calculate your estimated resting metabolic rate. This is the rate of calories that your body burns per day, without doing anything. Therefore it’s the number of calories you need to eat to maintain your body.

Equations of all sorts are approximations. They are not perfect. But it will give you a sense of learning how much your body potentially burns and how much you are eating.

Here’s the calculation:

For men: RMR = (9.99 x weight in kg) + (6.25  x height in cm) – (4.92 x age) + 5

For women: RMR = (9.99 x weight in kg) + (6.25  x height in cm) – (4.92 x age) -161

As an example, here’s mine (pre-pregnancy):

  • Jackie’s RMR = (9.99 x 66) + (6.25  x 163) – (4.92 x 32) -161
  • Jackie’s RMR = 659.34 + 1018.75 – 157.4 – 161
  • Jackies’s RMR = 1359.69

So for me, 1359 calories is a day is what I need to eat if I sit in a chair and do nothing but breathe (again pre-pregnancy, being pregnant is a different situation).

Can’t be bothered to crunch the numbers? Google “Mifflin-St.Jeor Calorie Calculator) This one yielded a similar result to above.

Physical activity here will account for a lot. You can adjust what you’re eating based on how active you are. To help calculate this – I think the My Fitness Pal app is a great one to track both food and activity.

Please don’t get crazy about this number. It’s just an approximate guideline. You don’t even have to do it. Just think to yourself how full you feel after each meal, and at the end of the day, if you think this number is going to drive you up the wall.

I have my number, now what? 

A good second step is to track, for one week, without changing anything, how you are eating. I’ve had a lot of success using the My Fitness Pal app.

At the end of the week, see how much you are eating, based on your approximate metabolic rate, and your activity level.

Personally, I don’t see tracking food and activity as a long term activity. I think it’s great to use for one week at a time, a few times throughout the year to see where you are at if you are trying to reach a goal.

At the end of the week of tracking, you will have a sense of when/where you can cut or add foods (note: many people don’t eat enough!) into your diet.

Also calories aren’t everything. The type of foods and when/how you eat them matter. I’ll get into that in a few posts from now, but really, don’t obsess if you are over this number too much. In my view, one big mac per day (even though it may meet your calorie requirements) is not the way to go. It’s about health, wellness and longevity for me!

Setting goals

With this data, you have to apply it to some sort of goal.

Are you happy where you are? That’s great! Keep it up, and maybe incorporate some new healthy habits along the way (like adding spinach in all your smoothies, or learning how to use hemp hearts in recipes).

Are you not happy where you are? If not, all good! You can change that. The tough part is to figure out why you are not happy. Most times, for myself included, my earlier goals of weight loss uncovered much more than just weight. If your goal is weight loss this year, be kind to yourself and patient, as you’ll discover a lot about yourself about why this is important to you.

What I’ve learned over the past few years is that your goal should get you towards leading the life you want. Do you want to be more mobile to play with your kids? Is your goal longevity so you can be an active grandparent? Do you want more energy so you can garden outside in the summer? Do you want to be one of those people who gets up in the mornig and goes for a walk or jog before work? Whatever it is, imagine that goal, reached, and how it will look like in your life. Let that be your motivator. Write it down and remind yourself of it everyday.

My example: The first goal that actually worked for me, was to become pain-free after a back injury. I think the reason why it worked was because it wasn’t about how I looked, but more about how I operated in life. I didn’t want to have back surgery, so I committed myself to heal and tried everything until something worked. And it did! In the 1.5 years I took to reach this goal, I began to like my body, learned a ton about nutrition and movement and I appreciated how much good food and movement can improve your life.

Whatever goal you choose for yourself, give yourself a timeframe of one year to get there. This week we will be bombarded with ads for 30, 60, or 90 day plans. It’ll be tough to resist, but try to come up with your own, one year plan. It’ll pay off next new year’s eve!

To recap: This week, get some basic data about yourself, track  your food intake for a week, and see where you are at by the end of the week. Next week we’ll talk adjustments, and what I’ve seen work for a few folks as a general guideline.

If your goal has to do with a health condition, take some time to work with your health care provider to help with your plan to get better. With my back problems, I had a team of people help me. You are not in this alone!

If you’re itching for more, try some week 1 bonus activities!

Author: Jackie

Jackie is a certified holistic nutritionist (with the Alive Academy out of Richmond, B.C.) in her spare time. Full-time she works in an office (like many of you!) and is always looking for ways to make her busy life happy and healthy. She is a mom to 2 lovely daughters, and a wife to a picky-eater husband who always keeps her on her toes when she is creating healthy recipes.

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