I originally blogged about my approach to weight loss and eating here. I considered updating that post, but instead chose to create a new post with my expanded furnace analogy and some links and information to get you started if you want to try eating more to weigh less.
Here’s the metabolism as a furnace analogy…..to understand, picture a big ol’ wood fired furnace. The kind that your great-grandparents would have been familiar with.
To work most efficiently, this furnace needs to be fueled properly. If you don’t put enough fuel in the furnace, the fire will die out completely. You’re going to be constantly working to re-start the fire and you’re not going to get any heat out of the furnace. If you put too much fuel on the fire in one shot, you’re going to smother the fire completely. But if you spread out when and how much fuel you put into the furnace, you’re going to have a nice fire burning all day long which will allow the furnace to work most efficiently. You’re not going to have to work as hard to keep the furnace working.
The same goes for your body’s metabolism. It needs fuel (FOOD) to work most efficiently. When you don’t eat enough or you eat too much all at once (i.e. one big meal per day), your metabolic systems are not going to be working to help burn fat and lose weight. Fuel your fire correctly and your metabolic systems are going to be switched on to helping you lose weight.
Don’t forget that the TYPE OF FUEL you use is just as important as the amount of fuel. If you throw green and wet wood on a fire, you’re not going to get that fire burning well. But if you use dry and seasoned wood, your fire will burn clean and hot. If you fuel your body with crap, your fire isn’t going to burn well. But if you use clean, natural, whole foods as fuel, your fire will be burning beautifully!
The other important ingredient that shouldn’t be ignored is activity. I’m going to keep expanding the analogy to include exercise.
Fires need fuel AND air to burn properly. Those wood stoves and furnaces have all kinds of dampers to help control the air supply to the fire. If you cut off the air supply to a fire, it will die out. If you leave all the dampers wide open and have your fire drawing lots of air then you’re going to burn through more fuel. The fire will burn hotter and faster and you’re going to need to add more fuel regularly. The more air a fire draws, the more fuel it will go through.
The air in this analogy is your exercise/activity. If you’re totally sedentary, you’re cutting off the air supply to your fire. If you’re highly active but don’t put more fuel into your body, your fire is going to run out of fuel and die out. You need to find that sweet spot with the fuel and air supply to keep your fire burning and burning well.
This has really helped me understand how my body works and WHY I want to eat the way I do and keep myself active (even if I’m not working out hard). You WANT to get your metabolic systems working in your favor because it makes it easier to lose fat and achieve your goals. And hey, who doesn’t want an easier way to lose weight??
To put this into use, here’s what I do. On my least active days I eat around 1600 calories. On my most active days (the majority of the week), I eat closer to 1800-1900. I aim for a daily caloric deficit of 500-1000 calories. I keep the days of 1000 calorie deficits to a minimum, perhaps twice a week. [To calculate caloric deficit: (maintenance caloric intake for current weight – calories consumed in a day) + calories burned through exercise. MyNetDiary does this calculation for me.]
I’m eating a diet that is comprised of nutritious, natural, healthy foods. I eat plenty of food in my day and eat around 6 times per day, making some people question if I’m really “on a diet” or not. And I’m still losing weight. Since January 1 of this year, I have averaged a loss of 2 lbs per week, a healthy and sustainable rate that I am more than pleased with.
Using this approach to weight loss I have made one big lifestyle change. Now I can continue eating and living happily like this for the rest of my life. There is no “off plan” food or cheating. There are no “phases” or “cycles”. There is just food, exercise, and knowledge.