Fit Five Friday – Is it all in the numbers?
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This week I was thinking about so many things that all have numbers involved. Last week I talked about numbers as well; my steps, my macros, etc. Then I started to wonder, where did all these numbers come from. Interesting how some things just kind of started without any scientific backup.
10,000 steps per day
I’ve been striving for 10K steps per day for many years, in fact, since I got my very first Fitbit in January 2013 (what?? 8 years ago!). While it wasn’t always a regular goal I do think it’s always been in the back of my mind. But, is there any science behind it?
According to several articles online, there’s not a lot of super-science behind it. This “goal” originated in Japan before the Tokyo Olympic Games of 1964 as a way to get the average Japanese person moving more. They marketed and sold a “manpo-kei” to the general population and a trend was born.
So do you need 10,000 steps per day? Well, it seems you do and you don’t. Here’s the thing; if you are not very active then 10K can seem like a lot. Maybe even unreachable. My personal opinion is, figure out what you actually do per day and then strive to expand on that. A more realistic goal for sedentary people could be 5000. And once you are able to hit that for a while you can always adjust. If it feels like work and it’s not bringing you joy, then adjust the daily steps goal to be more realistic for you.
1200 calories a day (for women) to lose weight
OK so I admit I am not a nutritionist or scientist but who came up with this utter bullshit anyway?? It’s January and everyone in the world has now started their diets again; I read all over message boards that their weight loss program is 1200 calories per day and I’m like … what???
First of all, this number is a total farce. It’s a lie. Whatever you’ve read in magazines that tell us how to look, feel and basically what society expects of us is a lie. 1200 calories is very low, you probably need even more than this just to lay around in bed all day.
It’s upsetting (ok, dramatic) that MyFitnessPal generally tells all women who want unrealistic weight loss (2lbs per week) that they should eat 1200 calories a day. This is diet culture, my friends. This is how you stay in the vicious cycle. This is why people scream and yell about “diets not working” in the long run. Well, of course if you starve yourself, you’re going to feel like diets don’t work! All diets pretty much “work”, but are they sustainable? A ha… the answer, in my opinion is no.
A better way to calculate what you should consume to lose weight would be to look at the total package, by using a TDEE calculator. You may find that 1700 calories per day is better for YOUR weight loss. Everyone is different. If you cut calories AND you exercise, you may also need to eat more to lose weight. It’s confusing, I know and takes time to figure out. Most people are not willing to invest the time though.
This article is already a couple of years old but I couldn’t agree MORE. 1200 calories is a sad, sad existence and not even meant for anyone over the age of 3.
Did you know that the Body Mass Index has been used over 100 years to calculate whether a person was overweight or not. Let me repeat that – OVER 100 YEARS yet medical professionals are still using this calculation to determine if we are healthy or not!
Personally I find this insane – so much has changed in the last 100 years and so much more knowledge has been gained regarding the human body. So WHY are they still using it?
There are other ways to measure if you are healthy – waist circumference, waist to height, measuring your actual body fat, muscle to fat ratio; in other words, BMI isn’t everything.
If you want MORE info about your body, you could go with a scale like the Nokia Withings Scale (not sponsored) for a different picture. But take it all with a grain of salt. How do you actually feel? Are you doing what you can each day to be healthy and fit? Do you practice “all things in moderation”? Then you are probably fine.
21 Days to make a Habit
Another “magic number”? Back in the day when I used to smoke cigarettes (I know! can you believe it? I’m already 11 years cancer-stick free) I remember someone told me that I only needed 21 days smoke-free and I was in the clear. Reality was a lot longer but I know psychologically once I hit 3 weeks that felt pretty good and made me want to continue.
Whether scientifically backed or not, it’s not the worst idea ever to give yourself a goal of doing something (or NOT doing something) for a certain period of time in order to make or break a habit. This article suggests with some scientific backups that it takes more like 2 months (66 Days). Some people just want to get through one day and then move on to the next and that’s ok too. Don’t overwhelm yourself and don’t sweat it if you need more than 21 days.
For me personally, making or breaking a habit and tracking it with an app like streaks really motivates me. For example, I *never* thought I could pre-plan my meals, not even one meal, daily until I actually gave it a go. As of today I’ve done it 43 days in a row (more than 3 weeks *wink*).
A “good” 5K is run in 25 min or less
Rubbish! A good 5KM run is the one you ran in the time you ran it. Need I say more?
I belong to a few running groups on Facebook and I see this constantly – runners who 1) won’t even call themselves runners and 2) who run/jog/walk/shuffle a 5KM in more than 30 minutes who feel bad about their pace.
Just don’t. Let’s celebrate all runners of all sizes, all ages and all paces who get out there and give it a go. And if you are one of those runners who think you are too slow please just let it go… unless you are striving to be a professional athlete, then I really wouldn’t worry about it. We are not all destined for Boston or the Olympics.
I have struggled with this concept for so long, SO MANY YEARS, and frankly, I’m over it. I’d rather be able to get out there and do my thing than be plagued with injuries or mental anguish over what I should be doing rather than what I am doing. (I once had a therapist who told me “The ‘shoulds’ in life are worse than the shits”. I remind myself of this constantly)
What do you think? Are there any “numbers” theories out there that you subscribe to?
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It’s really interesting how many of these numbers “myths” get imbedded into popular thinking/norms without real science to back them up! The 1,200 calories is especially crazy in my opinion! Great post Renee!
and yet so many people still believe 1200 is a magic number. *sigh*
Thankfully I’m not a numbers kind of person. I stopped chasing pace years ago. This was the issue I had with Matt Fitzgerald’s book, Racing Weight. His “ideal” weight for me was 20 lbs under the weight I ran my BQs at. I’d be a sickly waif at that weight! Great food for thought here Renee!
OMG the race-weight topic!!! I’ve been told on multiple occasions that if I ever really wanted to be a better athlete, I should weigh around 60KG max. Ummmm. No. 1) I just want to be better as in fit and can run without needing walk breaks and 2) I think I was 12 the last time I weighed 60KG. 70 is already reaching!!
Oh, I love this peak behind the current. I knew the 10,000 steps goal was questionable, but had no idea it dates back to the 60s! We think everything we latch on to is new. LOL on 1200 cals/day being a sad existence. #truth. I think there is some value in having measurable, trackable steps to reach your goals, but we take it too far and make the number itself the goal.
I wonder if there will ever be a trend at the forefront that gives people the motivation to just move and not have to reach some number that is not realistic for them? No wonder people feel like they fail!
Sort of like weight loss stories/ ads that say So-and-so lost x amount of pounds in a month, so can you! And then people try it out of desperation and don’t have the same result. Of course you don’t! Everyone is different!
In my younger years, I was very caught up in numbers especially scale numbers. Every body is different and we just need to figure out what works best for us. That also changes throughout our lives. The 10K steps is tricky. I get a lot of my exercise on the bike and it doesn’t account for that so, I don’t pay attention to that one at all.
Yes I don’t think you should have to get 10K steps per day if you are doing other exercise. I believe it was more to encourage NON-active people to move!
So interesting! I also used to smoke (I know! It’s been over 30 years) and quitting was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. I’m sure it took more than 3 weeks to get rid of the craving.
I mean it’s good to give a smoker the idea that they’ll be “cured” after only 3 weeks but it definitely takes longer!
Numbers like this are so frustrating! I’m pretty sure my 2 year old eats more than 1200 calories a day. Its all about finding what works for you. When it comes to calories, I think its most important to consider how you feel and what food you’re putting into your body vs how many calories are allowed each day.
I totally agree! I’m so shocked at how many people just blindly follow advise of 1200 per day to lose weight from a platform only designed to have you track your calories and macros!
These concepts are crazy making! Every single person is unique. I think a 10000 step goal or 30 minutes 50 times per week exercise goal is at least productive. BMI is a bunch of rubbish and don’t get me started on 1200 cal/day or “a good” run pace/time!
I wonder why we end up getting so hooked on these number concepts? I mean the 10K steps per day I do like, then I feel like I’ve moved, but for me it is 6KM walking in total. Which is a lot! I actually wonder if I can keep it up! And I really long for the day that BMI is no longer THE tool used to determine whether someone is healthy or not. We still have a long way to go in that area if you ask me!
I’ve always wondered about that 10k step thing… I think a lot of us like ‘even’ numbers; think about when you run and you round up to an even number. I’m trying to let that go and just be done when I’m done, lol. Such a great topic and food for thought.
Here’s attempt #3 LOL …anyways, I agree that the numbers aren’t a one-size-fits-all answer. They do provide a guide, but everyone will have a different standard. Back in college, 1,000 calories was the “number” for losing weight. Ugh… it totally jacked up my metabolism & took a couple years to correct that mistake.
omg 1000 calories!!! that’s insane!
[…] as of today I have had 10,000 steps or more per day for 55 days in a row. But, as I mentioned in my FFF post about this particular number of steps, there’s no real science behind it and I […]