The Missing Link: Introducing the CalTrac

I must admit, I have been completely flummoxed over my recent (over the last 3 months) 16 pound weight gain. I’m not obsessing over it (no, really!) but I was curious.

I was still exercising and I do think some of it’s muscle (as I’m still in my 4s – for the most part and my 6s, comfortably), but it’s clear that the belly (aka Bella) has taken on a life of her own.

Granted, I’ve been really sad over the last three weeks or so. Not miserable, but definitely feeling a loss.

I also have had less control over my eating – more peanut butter, more binges, but – in all fairness – my binge eating is pretty tame by most people’s standards. And even though I haven’t been counting calories, even on the days that I was over eating, I wasn’t over eating that much. I certainly wasn’t eating even lose to 2,000 a day, so things just really didn’t seem to add up.

Yesterday, however, it all slid into place.

It wasn’t that I ate all that much more this summer.

It wasn’t that I stopped exercising.

It’s that I stopped moving this summer, aside from exercise.

In the interest of saving time and gasoline (and spending more time with Cat) I worked at home this summer. And I worked a lot. Meaning that on most days, as soon as I finished working out, I took a shower and walked 15 steps to the dining room table (or 8 steps into the living room) and worked – i.e., sat on my ass, which got progressively bigger as the weeks passed.

It didn’t occur to me that this was a problem, because I had stayed tuned into food and exercise – that is, formal exercise – like High Intensity Interval Training, Nordic Track, K-Bells, Jillian Michael’s 30 Day Shred, etc. You know, the kind of stuff that you actually get dressed for and makes you sweat.

Well, because I am determined to get rid of my extra padding that I put on this summer, I started working with a fitness coach.

This woman, whose name is Susan, has given me a device known as a CalTrac. A CalTrac is beeper-like object that you wear on your waist band and it calculates the amount of calories you burn through movement, separate from the calories that you burn just by being alive.

The first couple of days that I had it, I was actually at a conference, which pretty much mimicked what I had been doing at home all summer.

Guess how many calories you burn through movement when you sit on your butt all day?

Less than 200.

Way less.

Yesterday, I headed back to the office.

Instead of shuffling from the bathroom to the kitchen – like I’d done everyday for the last three months – I parked my car at the gym and walked to my office. I walked back across campus to go to convocation (which, ironically, was pretty darned close to where I’d parked my car). Then I walked back to my office. Then, later in the afternoon, I took a turn around the pond, because I realize that the leaves are turning and I won’t have too many more gorgeous days left. At the end of the day I walked back to my car and then to my belly dancing class, because I figured that it would be hard to find parking (which, as it turns out, would have been had I drove).

At the end of the day, I had burned 809 calories through movement – and that’s not counting the 440 calories that I had burned that morning on the stair mill!

200?

800?

That’s a 600 calorie difference just by moving (or not moving) without any consideration of exercise whatsoever.

That’s 3,000 calories a week, assuming a 5 day work week.

That’s practically a pound a week.

No wonder I gained weight!

And no wonder I just didn’t get it.

Because I hadn’t changed what I ate – not that much anyway.

And I hadn’t changed the number of calories that I burned through formal/scheduled exercise.

But I had changed the informal/unscheduled calories that you burn just by walking, just by moving.

It’s a little annoying to wear a little blue device on your belt, but it sure is motivating.

In fact, instead of checking my email when I’m done here, chances are I’m going to take a turn around the pond. It is another gorgeous day after all. But, perhaps even more importantly, it’s another 200+/- calories!

It really never occurred to me that the non-sweat inducing activity of walking (back and forth from cars, between buildings, etc.) could make the difference of a pound a week!

Who knows? I may start parking even further away than I do now (not to mention using the women’s bathroom on the fifth floor instead of the one outside of my office)!

If you’ve changed your routine and you’ve noticed that you’re feeling a little thicker around the middle, perhaps you should get up and move a little bit more than you do – and maybe even a little more than that tomorrow.

I know that’s my plan!

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