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Blog Messages : Calories & Health

 Cameron Murray
12/10/2016 7:25:28 PM

Hello everyone, I want to start this Blog off by talking a little about how I started losing weight and how the website came into being. 


Actually, it all started with Jake.  I work on a small and close team consisting of 3 people.  One morning we were all standing around talking and Jake said “Look at us, we are all overweight.  Let’s go on a team diet!”  I looked at him skeptically, thinking he was joking and said “sure”.  He went on to say that he had taken some dieting and nutrition courses in college and had lost weight before.  He simply counted calories and made sure he ate healthy food.


After talking for a while I began to realize that he was not joking.  Then I began to worry.   Hmmm… I thought to myself, do I really want to loose weight?  Well of course, I guess.  I have put on a few pounds since college and getting married.  Could I do it?  Is now the time?  I am going on a vacation in the summer; I could wait until that was over.  I guess no time is really good.  I felt a little nervous and afraid to commit to start something with my co-workers and friends because if I failed, I would never hear the end of it.  Jake kept going on about how easy it was to count calories and you could eat whatever you wanted, etc… etc…  So, without thinking about it any longer I said, sure, I am in.


Jake went to the Internet, asked our age, weight, height and exercise level and found a calculator that calculated our daily “maintenance” calories.  Maintenance is how many calories it takes you to eat daily to sustain your currant weight.  Later, I would learn that he used the Mifflin-St Jeor equation to get this value.  He then took the commonly known fact that a pound of fat equals 3500 calories and stated that if we each ate 500 less calories a day less than our maintenance calories; we would lose a pound a week.  I have a mathematical kind of mind and I thought about that for a minute, and it actually made sense.  Could it be that easy?  Probably not.  Some of my other friends do all these crazy glutamate counting things that I have no clue what they are doing so could this really work?  Also, a pound a week?  That seems a little slow.  4 pounds a month?  That will take forever!  Then I began thinking of how time passes more quickly the older you get and how it seems like the last 6 months just flew by me.  Sure, I can take a pound a week.


Jake made an excel spreadsheet with cells for us to track the days of the week and calories eaten during each meal per day.  I used this spreadsheet for a few weeks until I actually lost a few pounds.  Wow.  I actually lost a few pounds.  I didn’t eat exactly as my calorie count should have been; I ate over several days (on the weekends) and ate less during the week.  But I tracked it all, the highs and lows.  I tracked everything honestly because it was for me; I wasn’t trying to please anybody.  If I ate extra or went out to a restaurant, I just tracked everything I ate and drank.  I wanted to see how eating some heavy meals, or drinking lots of alcohol, would affect my weight loss.  Soon, I began wanting to see some kind of visual graph of calories over the weeks and a graph of my weight lost. Both Jake and I played around with excel graphs and charts and they weren’t doing it for either of us.  I am a programmer and have had development jobs in the past so I immediately jumped to the conclusion that I needed to put this information in a database and “webify” it.  Actually, that way, when I do go on vacation, I can continue to enter my information even if my spreadsheet is on my work laptop.


I created several web pages for myself and hosted them on my webserver at home.  Simple but effective.  It was just for me so it had a pretty ugly interface but it was functional.  As the weeks went past, I kept losing a pound or two a week, steady. People began asking us how we were doing it.  We said that we were just counting calories.  On occasion, I would show people the graphs I had created on my home web server and give them the URL so they could watch my progress. 


Our popularity began to grow.  People begin asking, could they use the input screens and graphs too?  No, I replied, it was a single user app, no authentication, hardcoded age, height, etc…  Jake suggested that I convert my web pages into a multi-user application so he, and everyone, could track their calories like I was doing.  I love coding so I spent a few weeks and authored this website.  Jake and I brainstormed the name, bought the domain and pointed it at a directory on my home server and here we are!


As of this post, I have lost 40 pounds and have entered everything I have eaten and drank over the last 6 months.  I seem to be motivated by always checking my graph.  I do it all the time.  Every time I eat, I feel the need to go and enter in on the web page.  I am sure not everyone is like me, but for me I like looking at graphs and even a pound or two a week shows a long descending line of progress that you can look at over and over.  Even if you go way over on your calories one day, looking at the graph gives you a broader view where you can see that yesterday and tomorrow will average down that spike.  I regularly eat in cycles like that, more on the weekends and less during the week.  The graphs give you confidence that counting calories works.


It’s not magic, It’s math.  3500 calories equals a pound of fat. 3500 calories divided by seven days a week equals 500 calories per day.  If you can do it, and I am sure you can because I did, then all it takes is time.  There is no dieting secret, in my opinion. Just simple math.  Some weeks you will go up a pound.  Others, you will go down two.   Watch the graph.  It has a long slowly descending slope.


Thanks Jake, for that "Team Building" suggestion you made on a warm June morning that seems so long ago.


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