Originally uploaded by hans s

Back in June, I went to a staff training for Weight Watchers; it’s part of a series on the science of weight loss. How awesome is this, I ask you? It was hard to get excited about a 12-hour work day especially on a Friday, but I was hoping to learn a lot and learn I did.

On one hand, it was simple and basic and nothing I hadn’t heard before, but on the other hand it felt totally illuminating. Or maybe confirming.

There was a lot of talk about metabolism. What IS “metabolism,” anyway? It seems like this mysterious and complicated mechanism that nobody seems to clearly understand. But as we learned, metabolism is actually a NUMBER. It’s the difference between the calories that one burns and that calories that one takes in. That’s it.

And if we are trying to lose weight, then we want the numbers IN to be fewer than the numbers OUT.

It was kind of stunningly simple. My mind was kind of whirling around like crazy, thinking of my own understanding of my own numbers in the past few months. I’ve been wearing this little gadget called a Philips DirectLife which measures the calories OUT every day. For the first few weeks, I was going gangbusters and burning 150-180% of my goal every day. I was knocking the socks off that thing.

Then I hurt my ankle. Again. Everything slowed wayyyyy down. I could see by the charts on the gadget that even when I tried to walk, I was averaging about 200 calories less per day (burned) than before. On top of that, at the same time, I started a new job that was kind of mentally exhausting. I was going out for coffee 1-2x a day more than previously. And you know, I put cream in my coffee. So there’s 100-200 calories more IN per day. Even if everything else stayed the same.

And suddenly it became glaringly obvious (in a way that just had not clicked before) that this was WHY I was unable to just shake off the last 5-10 pounds I was wanting to lose.

I mean I KNEW it, on some level, that walking was just not the same as running or banging out long sessions on the elliptical. But my little DirectLife was ticking away and showing me in very graphic terms exactly what was going on. Add the extra coffee and there you have it.

So now, my ankle is feeling better and I am able to do more again. AND I’ve been tracking my food carefully on my food blog. And… voila. Happy scale days again.

There was more good stuff in that metabolism lecture; about the different ways we burn calories, and metabolism as we age and metabolism in men vs women, but I’m going to save that for a later post.