CARVILLE: Your weight loss foundation |

CARVILLE: Your weight loss foundation

Phil Carville
Fitness Columnist

As you may remember from last month’s column, I am setting a New Year resolution for myself and you… by focusing several articles on a weight-loss plan for 2018.

I started with the ‘Warren Buffett weight loss’ article last month, the essence of which was to set ‘realistic’ weight-loss expectations.

I was reminded again this week how we are continuously bombarded by outrageously unrealistic plans. I was in a grocery line at SPD when I saw a magazine headline “Lose 10 pounds in 48 hours.” Unbelievable and totally ridiculous claim. The only way that I know you can do that is… to cut off your head.

So aside from setting ‘realistic goals’ how does one get started on an effective weight loss plan? I will cover those topics in future articles, but first we need to look the ‘foundation’ of your body’s metabolism.

There are two concepts that we must recognize when losing weight. The first is Harris-Benedict ‘Basal Metabolic Rate’ and the second is the ‘Calorie Equation.’


Your BMR is the number of calories required if you did nothing but lie in bed for 24 hours — the minimum amount of energy needed to keep your body functioning, including breathing and keeping your heart beating. This is baseline to keep you alive.

Of course, it varies from person to person. The calculation combines age, body weight, several constants and yields your unique BMR. It looks more complex than E=MC squared, but isn’t really.

For example, a 65-year old man, 5-foot, 10-inches tall and weighing 225 pounds has a BMR of 2,013 calories/day. The same man, if he weighed 185 pounds, would have a BMR of 1,764 calories per day. Remember, this is lying in bed for 24 hours… not even getting up for a meal or going to the toilet.

When you get up, walk around, eat, go to work, you need additional calories to function. Those are calculated by an “Activity Multiplier’ (AM). The sum of your BMR and AM are the number of calories which yields a healthy body weight. This is the long-term scenario we want to achieve in our daily lives.


The reason we are overweight is that our calorie equation is out of balance. The equation is simple, but it bears repeating: ‘calories-in’ minus ‘calories-out’ equals body weight. When we consume more calories than needed by our BMR and AM, we gain weight.

Because our AM often lessens as we age, we eat the same amount, but we still gain weight. We conclude that our metabolism has slowed down. Not really the case. It is the fault of our reduced AM — we are not as active as we once were.


We can get serious about weight loss, avoid stupid starvation-diets, gain muscle mass, lose fat, become healthier and happier by embarking on a sensible weight loss plan.

The sensible plan is realistic, continuous, has a ‘method of progression’ and is properly documented. By documented I mean a diary that tracks progress, exercise, diet and mental outlook. Many studies have shown that persons who keep a diary are vastly more successful losing weight than those do don’t. It’s called ‘accountability.’

If weight loss were easy in our society, very few people would be overweight. Unfortunately, because of the mix of industrialized-processed foods with high-hidden sugar content and inactive lifestyles, our society is overweight… dangerously so. Add the confusion of “10 pounds in 48 hours” magazine articles, celebrity fad-diets and medical industry pill-pushing, it’s no wonder that people fail to lose weight.

So, how do we develop that plan? Well, to put a whole plan together I may need to create that syllabus that I mentioned in last month’s article.

Today’s topics of BMR, AM and the calorie equation are concepts. We need to put them and all the other components of successful weight-loss into a single booklet. Since we all live in Nevada County, can talk and do things together, can meet for support and encouragement, we just need that list of things to do and how to do them while having some fun along the way.

I am working on it. I will continue with articles to inform and motivate. I feel that soon, I may be able to present the ‘whole enchilada’ in one document. Honesty, I am trying.

Since so many of you liked last month’s Yogi Berra quote, here is one we can apply to weight loss – “You better cut the pizza into four pieces because I am not hungry enough to eat six.”

Phil Carville is a co-owner of the South Yuba Club. He can be reached at

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