Smorgasbord Health 2017 – Weight Reduction – Reward System and Calories

Smorgasbord Health 2017

Successful weight loss does not just depend on the food you put in your mouth. It is a full on campaign that challenges your current reward system and requires project planning in the form of achievable goals and accurate measurements.

In this post –

More effective reward systems How many calories do you as an individual need each day? – How to create the deficit necessary to lose weight.

Firstly, please do not take yourself off any prescribed medication that you are on. If losing weight is going to affect either the dosage or your need for the drugs then you need to consult your doctor. Hopefully, with his support, in a few weeks or months’ time you will be able to reduce your dosage or come off them altogether.

The first topic today is about our inherent reward system. Most of us remember our parents saying “if you are good, you can have some sweeties” or ” if you eat all your dinner you can have dessert” In subsequent years most of us have refined this reward system to cover every eventuality!

I have had a lousy day; I deserve a bar of chocolate, glass or bottle of wine, a whole pizza to myself, a tub of Haagen Dazs (my particular favourite)


I have had a great day; I deserve a bar of chocolate, glass of bottle of wine etc. etc.

This is the problem I have with many slimming organisations that elevate certain foods to reward status that have little or no nutritional contribution to your daily requirements. They imply that you have been a good little girl or boy and deserve to have a little treat so that you don’t feel deprived.

Sorry, but we are grown-ups and we need to create a new reward system. Our long term health is at stake here!

Your task is to create a whole list of activities, events, purchases, gifts to yourself and others to celebrate the progress you make along the way. The only proviso is that they are not food related in any way.

For example. Activities that were uncomfortable for me at 24 stone (336lbs) included trips to the cinema, fitting into an airline seat to go on holiday, buying clothes from M&S, getting into normal width shoes, dancing with my husband, going on the big wheel at the funfair.

Mega for me was that I was unable to take a long, hot soak in a bathtub for over 10 years; unless there was a hoist and tackle on hand to get me back out again. I had to lose 90lbs before I could enjoy that wonderful indulgence and that was worth far more than a few bars of chocolate to me.

Achieving this type of goal becomes the reward and once you have accomplished that, you are very reluctant to let it go again.

So create your list, small rewards for your weekly progress, for each 14lbs, for a new dress size, for reducing your blood pressure to normal, to coming off pills for life…..

It won’t necessarily come easily but give it time and if you have a great support team in place they will be delighted to celebrate your success with you.

Measuring progress.

The second topic of the day is measuring your progress. I hate bathroom scales with a vengeance. They can sabotage a healthy eating programme as quick as anything. They are not always reliable, if old, the measurements are off and if you do not lose weight one week you can get demoralised and give up.


I have a couple of alternatives that work for me. One is to take a photograph, full length of you today and stick it somewhere you see it every day. In 6 weeks’ time having been following your new regimen of natural unprocessed foods and got into an increased activity programme, take another and compare them.  This will show you where the inches have disappeared particularly in your face, chest and waist area.

Secondly, find an item of clothing that is a size too small and every week on the same day try it on. Keep going until you fit into it. A note here. Unfortunately, we women tend to lose weight from the top down usually. One of the reasons being is that we have different hips and thighs to men. We bear children and the fat in those regions would be used to nourish the baby when we are pregnant. So perhaps an idea would be to find a top of some kind or jacket to compare sizing for the first few weeks.

As for the scales! As far as weight is concerned I suggest that you find a chemist or other outlet that has accurate scales and visit every two to four weeks – same day and time if you can – on the way to work perhaps. I try to find one that is not programmed to shout the results across the shop floor! Some of these also have a blood pressure cuff so another measurement to check on a regular basis. Do still have your BP taken officially along with your LDL cholesterol levels and Blood Sugar with your doctor or the pharmacy after 6-8 weeks.


Yes, I know, you do have to balance the amount of calories that you are taking in with your expenditure in the form of activity. However, one of the ways to approach this is to think portion size. That means that when you are out for a meal you can still have what you enjoy, just less of it. Plates seem to have got much bigger than they used to be and the temptation is to fill them. Move your meals to a smaller size plate.

I have found that 5 or 6 smaller meals throughout the day to be the most effective way to lose weight. There are two schools of thought – one that if you eat constantly you put pressure on the liver as part of the digestive process, and the other which I subscribe to, is that by eating smaller portions several times a day you do not put stress on the digestive system or the liver, and that it enables your body to extract the nutrients continuously providing you with energy.

Be aware that if you are on a diet others around you will feel they need to be too.

You will find your own strategies that work but do be wary of becoming obsessed especially if you have a young family.  Teenagers, both boys as well as girls have become very much more body aware, especially with today’s celebrity culture and fad diet industry. How you behave towards food and your body will have an impact on them.

Intermittent Fasting.

I have found that the intermittent fasting approach to healthy eating suits me. I eat within an 8 hour window every day. I did it for a year and my weight dropped by about a stone and I felt great. Then we moved back to Ireland and we stayed with a family member for three months and I stopped.. I definitely noticed the difference.  I am now back to my 8 hour window and even in a few weeks feel very much fitter and with more energy.

I eat well in that 8 hours with breakfast, lunch, evening meal with two snacks. Never hungry and more importantly no sugar cravings.

The Power of One.

You also have to understand the power of ONE. We seemed to be programmed to eating two of everything – two pieces of toast and butter – two biscuits – two chocolates, one for now one for later, two or three roast potatoes etc. If you only have one piece of toast with some butter each day you will be saving around 200 calories a day. Over six weeks that relates to 2.5lbs. Multiply that by all of the food that you have in two’s and three’s and you will be surprised at the outcome. It can represent 4lbs to 6lbs a month.

You can find more details in the last post on the accumulative factor.. link is in the directory at the bottom of this post.

How many calories do you need each day?

Basal metabolic rate – BMR establishes the approximate calories your body needs to function. At rest, with your digestive system inactive. So basically, first thing in the morning when your organs have been idling, rather than fully functional. This is dependent on your age and gender and as we age our requirement for calories decreases which is why you need to make sure you are compensating by including plenty of activity.

The simplest thing is to give you a link so that you can establish according to your age and gender what the minimum calories your body requires. However, it is important to point out that whilst calories are vital, it is also critical that those calories be as nutritious as possible. Particularly, if you are planning on cutting down calorie intake to lose weight.

For example my basal metabolic rate at 64 is 1457 calories per day. That is not taking into account the calories required to operate my digestive system, organs such as my brain and heart, lungs, liver and kidneys etc. If you are not desk bound, walking around, doing shopping, housework, etc. you will use about 100 calories per hour – in activity and operating the body. That will add about 500 calories per day.

Men use slightly more because of body mass so I use 2000 calories basic requirement for women and 2,300 for men.

I never drop calories for an individual to less than 1500 for women and 1800 for men per day. The key is then to make sure that all those calories are nutrient dense. To increase this requirement you need to add in activity. This is difficult for someone who is behind a computer all day – however, walking to work, up and down stairs, taking a 20 minute walk at lunchtime will help elevate the calorific requirement.

An easy way to increase activity levels and to add to your calorie deficit is to walk one mile a day at 3 miles an hour. Six days a week and you will have created a deficit of 600 calories a week.

How much would you lose per week?

If you require 2,000 calories per day BMR + normal activity – plus 100 calories from exercise minimum you will create an overall deficit of 600 calories per day – 4,100 per week. Each lb. of body fat is around 3,500 calories so you should lose in the region of 1.2lbs per week.

As you continue to lose weight your BMR will change slightly and since I do not recommend dropping below 1500 calories for a woman, your sensible option is to increase your activity level as you get fitter. Increase your pace gradually until you are completing your mile in 15 minutes not 20minutes. Walk for 2 miles per day in 30 minutes and you will be still able to lose weight consistently for several weeks.

For those who are over 3 stone overweight you will obviously have a higher BMR – for example a man who is 5ft 10inches and weighs 250lbs will have a BMR of 1992 calories per day. Add in normal activity his daily calorie requirement would be around 2,500 (a little more, carrying extra weight is an activity all on its own). In this instance – calories should be no less than 1900 per day with normal activity plus one walk providing the deficit to lose weight.


Work out your BMR requirement per day – add 500 and 100 calories for each mile you walk or the calorie deficit from your individual exercise activity.

To lose weight safely you do not want to drop below your BMR – if this means 1500 calories per day – they need to be nutrient dense not empty calories such as three chocolate bars.

To continue to lose weight healthily, as your BMR reduces slightly; increase your activity levels so that you are continually creating a deficit of around 500 – 750 calories per day.

This will create a weight loss of between 1.2lbs and 2lbs a week.

You can find all the other posts in the series on Weight Reduction in this directory.

©sallycronin 2016

Please feel free to ask any questions in the comment section and if you would like a private word then please email me