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OVER-expecting Weight Loss Success: Why Your Effort Doesn’t Match What You See on the Scale

By Mark Rullo MS, CSCS, MES

In the previous article, “UNDER-standing Weight Loss Frustration” I discussed how it is easy to UNDER-report the calories you are consuming and give up in frustration. The purpose of that article was to reinforce the science that weight loss is simple, in that it revolves around calories in versus calories out. However, simple doesn’t mean easy, due to factors such as portion distortion, food label loop holes, accountability accuracy of nutritional labels, and Bites Licks and Taste’s that may cause you to miscalculate and UNDER-report the calories you are consuming.

This article is going to continue on that theme but now focus on the other side of the caloric equation: caloric expenditure (calories out).

We have been able to document with our clients here at My Fitness Kitchen that the UNDER-reporting of caloric input (eating) averages around 25-30% until they hone in on the factors leading to this error. Meaning if you report a 1500 calorie intake, in reality you could be eating 1875-1950 actual total calories. This equates to a daily calorie error of 350 to 450 from your daily deficit, or .7lb to .9lb per week you would be expecting to see on the scale but are not – VERY FRUSTRATING.

Now what about our caloric expenditure or “burn”?

First and foremost, let’s accept the fact that all methods used to measure caloric expenditure—such as the Exerspy™ armband (used here at the Kitchen), heart rate monitors, Fit Bits, Fuelbands, and displays on stationary cardio machines, to name a few—are only estimates. With that said, if you want to minimize frustration, choose a method that does not exaggerate your burn. It may be cool to see a large caloric burn from a device; but if it isn’t true, that is a cruel trip back to reality when you jump on the lie-detector, also known as the scale.

To document such a wide range of OVER-estimating caloric expenditure, I wore an Exerspy™ armband while doing a simple 30 minute steady-state cardio workout on an elliptical at a moderate level of intensity (level 14).

In the photo above, the exercise display on the machine reported 404 calories expended; whereas the Exerspy™ arm-band shows 192 calories burned in the 30 minutes of steady-state work. That is a 212 calorie difference in 30 minutes of work or 7.1 calories per minute difference! Imagine doing that 30 minute workout three days a week or every day. That is 636 or 1484 calories you believe you are able to eat. Again both are estimates; however it is better to err on the lower end so you don’t think you have more calories to eat than you actually do. It is no different than being told you will earn$404 dollars for doing something but in reality only get paid $192. Even worse is if you went out and purchased (ate) something that cost $404 but actually do not have the additional funds ($212) to cover the cost.

Another example happened when I was taking a Spinning class. A female next to me, no where near my size and weight (at least 60-70 lbs lighter), wore a heart rate monitor that reported she burned over 800 calories during the workout, whereas my armband showed only 380 calories burned. To understand this, the point is that mass (particularly muscle mass) plays a significant role on caloric expenditure; therefore even if I was dogging it and she was busting her butt, there’s no way there would be over a 400 calorie difference.

Another problem with calculating caloric burn of workouts is that it fails to account for the other 23 hours in the day (assuming the workout was for 60 minutes). This is where many info-commercials mislead people with hype of extreme caloric burns that are mostly impossible. Workouts with a 1000+ calorie burn are not happening unless we are talking about a large (300+ lbs.) individual who is extremely fit, exercising at a high intensity for 60 minutes.

By wearing an armband for 24 hours, I can see what the difference in one’s expenditure is while sleeping, sedentary, active (vertical/walking around), and exercising. For example, on average I burn about 4,000 calories per day. Typically I burn about 100 calories per hour sleeping, about 190 calories per hour being sedentary, and anywhere from 300 to 550 calories per hour during a workout depending on the intensity and type. Therefore to illustrate, if I would…

• …sleep 8 hours, that would be about 800 (8×100) calories

• …be sedentary for 15 hours that would be about 2850 (15×190) calories

• …and exercise an hour and average 425 calories burned for the workout

This example would total about 4,075 calories in 24 hours. The important take-away from this is that we burn calories 24 hours, not only when we exercise.

Yes, having knowledge of an individual workout burn is great and can be motivating, but it can be misleading, particularly for the devices that OVER-estimate the caloric expenditure. Equally troubling with individual workout caloric expenditure (even when the device doesn’t OVER-estimate) is that it fails to show the entire picture of weight loss. Regardless of what you burn in a workout, how will that help you determine what you can eat (in calories) if you do not know the other 23 hours or the complete total for the day?

Understanding that we burn calories all day can also explain and educate how we can influence our metabolism during rest, not just by exercising. Monitoring expenditure all day can show which workouts create the greatest EPOC (Excess Post Oxygen Consumption), which is a scientific term for “after burn” or elevated metabolism post workout.

As in the previous article “UNDER-standing Weight Loss Frustration” and in the few examples above on how people “OVER-expect weight Loss Success” is how we help individuals here at My Fitness Kitchen via technology and evidence-based science to eliminate the guesswork with weight loss and build programs around YOUR FOOD, on YOUR TERMS, for YOUR RESULTS.

For more information, please feel free to consult with any of the fitness professionals at My Fitness Kitchen®. Additionally, as an on-going thank you to Laurel Mountain Post and its readers, mention this article for a FREE, no obligation, personalized, metabolic nutritional formula and fitness program that will leverage the “Hierarchy of Fat Loss.” If you are serious about achieving a body transformation goal, then you need a program; as any goal without a plan is really only a wish!

As an added incentive for people new to My Fitness Kitchen®, by mentioning this Laurel Mountain Post article and after meeting with one of My Fitness Kitchen’s Fitness Professionals for a private consult as offered above, you will receive $50 “Kitchen Cash” to be used toward any program or service at My Fitness Kitchen®, as a courtesy of the Laurel Mountain Post.


Hometown Talent: Eric DeFade

Interviewed by Megan Fuller

A childhood in Southwestern PA provided Eric DeFade with a solid background in and enduring love for music. Now with over thirty years of professional experience he is in demand as a performing artist and studio musician. For the past ten years Eric has been a featured performer for the My Music series on PBS. This program is internationally broadcast and features such artists as Patti Labelle, Isaac Hayes, the Temptations, Robert Goulet, Wild Cherry, The Platters, and The Commodores to name a few. Eric has played with music greats Rosemary Clooney, Josh Groban, the New York Voices, Gary Burton, John Scofield, Dave Liebman, Ahmad Jamal, and Benny Golson and has toured internationally with The Artie Shaw Band and the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra. Eric has appeared on the Oprah Winfrey show accompanying legendary jazz vocalist Nancy Wilson.  On February 20, Eric will be playing a show sponsored by the Westmoreland Jazz Society at the Seton Hill University Performing Arts Center at 100 Harrison Avenue in Greensburg at 7:30 PM. Doors open at 6:30 PM. Tickets are available at the door: $10 for WJS members, $15 non-members, $3 students (age 21 and under). Call 724/837-1500 ext. 127 for membership information or gleiner@wmuseumaa.org.

A McDonald’s All-American, multi-instrumentalist, and graduate of Thomas Jefferson High School in Clairton, PA, Eric received a scholarship to study jazz performance at the University of North Texas and was the lead tenor saxophonist with the Dallas jazz orchestra. After working extensively in the Dallas club and studio scene, Eric relocated to Tokyo to lead his own jazz combo. Upon returning to the U.S. Eric began a busy freelance schedule including performances with the Pittsburgh Ballet theater, the Civic Light Opera, The Pittsburgh Symphony Pops,  the Manchester Craftsman’s Guild All-Star Big Band, the Pittsburgh Jazz Orchestra, Billy Price, and Benny Benack. Most recently Eric has been touring North America with international singing sensation Patrizio Buanne. With dozens of recordings to his credit, most notably with Nancy Wilson, and the New York Voices, Eric has played on two Grammy award winning projects and won an Emmy for his work on the music special, “Live From Studio A”. In the fall of 2012 Eric was inducted into the Pittsburgh Jazz Hall of Fame. In addition to a year round performance schedule, Eric is an artist\lecturer in saxophone and director of jazz ensembles at Carnegie Mellon University, visiting artist at the Lincoln Park Performing Arts Charter School, adjunct professor of saxophone at Seton Hill university, director of jazz studies at CMU pre college, music chair of the Henry Mancini Arts Academy, and clinician for the Pennsylvania Arts on Tour program.

Would you please share with us some of your musical background and memories of growing up in Pittsburgh?

My father was and still is a prominent player/composer/arranger in the Pittsburgh area. Our house was always filled with great music, both live and recorded. He would often bring me along to rehearsals and until I was four or five years old, I thought that everybody in the world was a musician. As I grew up in Pittsburgh I quickly became aware of the incredible history here.

Who were your biggest influences either musically or in life?

I would have to say my parents were my biggest influences. I still learn things from my Dad as we get to play together fairly often. My parents both in their own way, impressed upon me the importance of realizing that money isn’t everything and most certainly can’t buy happiness. They gave me the confidence and support to ‘go after it’ and provided calm and sensible guidance, particularly early in my career.

What inspired you to become a professional musician?

Miles Davis is quoted as saying that serious musicians play out of a need to play.  This was certainly true in my case.  In many ways, though it may sound strange, I feel like I was a saxophone player before I ever picked one up. I always thought that the act of standing up and improvising a dynamic, and hopefully moving, musical statement was just so cool. Still do.

Will you share with us how some of your opportunities came about -like leading a jazz combo in Tokyo or playing with Nancy Wilson, and/or teaching at CMU?

I have been blessed to be a part of some truly memorable performances.  When I was quite young I had the opportunity to play a number of dates on the Ginza in Tokyo. It was such a great experience to play in front of such attentive and knowledgeable crowds all the while trying to communicate with the other players.  A truly exciting time in my life.

My first gig with Nancy Wilson was on the Oprah Winfrey show. It was part of a Christmas music special with Ms. Wilson, Beyoncé, and Charlotte Church.  We had rehearsed our parts beforehand without Nancy and when it came time to tape, and she walked out it all dawned on me at once. I was seated a few feet away from a genuine jazz legend that I had admired for years, getting ready to play in front of several million people. When she started to sing, I almost forgot to play! Such beautiful phrasing and distinctive style. I was blown away.

Teaching at CMU has been a wonderful thing for me. Teaching is gratifying in ways that had never occurred to me when I was strictly a freelance musician. It has improved my playing and approach to the business in a variety of ways. I also love to see the students grow and excel.

To what can the audience at your February Westmoreland Jazz Society performance look forward?

I will be playing with some of Pittsburgh’s finest rhythm players including the phenomenal Tom Wendt on drums. We will play a good mix of jazz classics and originals (classics in waiting ha ha) in a variety of styles. I will be playing tenor and soprano saxophones and flute.

Are there any personal or professional goals that you are currently working towards?

I am currently putting the finishing touches on the second release of a collaboration between myself, Tony Depaolis, and London-based guitarist Francesco Lo Castro. We have tour dates in place for the summer in Lon-don, Paris, and Rome to promote our new project, “Into the Unknown”.

What advice do you give to students in their search for success?

I always tell my students that the time to go out and experience the world as a musician is now. Keep your over-head low and try not to take on too much debt. Network as much as possible and never stop working on the things that you don’t do well.  Versatility is the coin of the realm in this era.

Get Moving…TODAY!

5 Reasons to GET MOVING…TODAY!

1. Activity boosts endorphins!  Struggle through your first workout…but walk out feeling GREAT!? This is an endorphin ‘rush’ or a ‘runners high.’ An endorphin rush may be likened to the after feeling of a funny conversation or a warm embrace.  Those who exercise regularly have found that this ‘high’ can nearly be addictive! With a mild, sustained elevation in your heart rate, endorphins (natural hormones) are released in the body, which trigger a euphoric sensation! A great reason to be active…a natural ‘pick me up!’

Avid exercisers have reported in clinical research that YOGA and ZUMBA are two of the greatest ‘endorphin’ endorsers around!

2. Activity decreases your risk of disease and need for prescription medication!  Although the decrease of disease risk seems too logical to discuss, just remember that your body was meant to be active…we were NOT meant to be couch potatoes. Among ailments and diseases that have been repeatedly proven to lessen with activity are diabetes, stroke, high blood pressure, depression, anxiety, headaches, vascular disease, heart disease, heart attacks, obstructive sleep apea (OSA), dementia, high cholesterol, and more! Although medications may be necessary for many individuals we have proven time and time again, that regular activity can markedly reduce the need for prescription medications (esp. Lisinopril, Lopressor, Lipitor, HCTZ, Prozac, Wellbutrin, Insulin, Glucophage, and more).  The studies are out there! And the proof is in print (http://buildingbodeez.net/proven-results.html).

3. Activity increases the likelihood of healthy relationships! A regular endorphin rush, as well as less aches and pains, and ultimately more energy will likely reduce depression, and increase your relationship satisfaction! Moreover, if you pick the right activity, with healthy folks, you may just find a new friend or a new community to enjoy.

4. Activity leads healthier joints!  Natural range of motion and aches and pains slowly come about with age and sustained workload.  Therefore, activity is imperative to keep the joints lubricated and functioning at a high level.  Stretching after exercises is a fantastic way to decrease aches and pains! Try a JUMP STRETCH band for stretching post-workout or even at the end of a long day of yard work.  You will be surprised that aches and pains lessen AND your range of motion will increase over time.

5. Activity doesn’t mean long hours on a treadmill!  With recent wordlwide focus on fitness and wellness, activity no longer means mandatory hours spent walking on a treadmill! Daily chores is activity. Walking the dog is activity. Chasing your grandchild around the yard is activity. Fortunately, fitness centers are now renowned for a wealth of differing activities including group fitness, circuit and crosstraining, personal training, buddy training, outdoor training, and much, much more. Just ask us how to find ‘your fancy’ at Building Bodeez Fitness.  (http://www.buildingbodeez.net).

Activity shouldn’t be thought of as a chore…its a priority. Put down the laptop, and get yourself moving…TODAY!


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