Offset Calories

Today’s Think It Through Thursday Post:


It’s a conundrum when you try to plan so carefully your meals, snacks, workouts and what-not when sometimes there is a little mistake in the plan and the calories for the day do not add up to what you had hoped (or add up far beyond what you had hoped!). When this happens, I like to implement a little habit called “offsetting.”


Let’s say for example that your calorie allotment for the day was 1500 calories, but instead, after all was said and done, you ended up with 1650 calories. Now to some, that is nothing, and they think nothing of it.  Others, say, those who don’t have a ton to lose but who need to be careful of every morsel that enters the lips, this can be a problem especially if it keeps happening day after day. The way that I handle it is two-fold:

A. I can either the next day (or any day of the week before my weigh-in) eat 150 calories less than 1500 as to offset the 150 I went over the “bad” diet day

B. Or, I can exert a bit more exercise on another day to burn and additional 150 calories on top of what I would normally burn. So if you normally burn 300 calories in an exercise session, that day you would aim for 450 calories instead.


I didn’t make this one up, and most probably do it anyways without giving it a name, but I wanted to tell you that it works even if it is a little bit painful during the offsetting. Mireille Guiliano mentions in her world-famous book French Women Don’t Get Fat, “Ordinarily, the French are not ones to let a loss of balance get too far out of hand. Excess is typically a matter for a couple of days, which can be corrected (emphasis mine) in a couple of days to follow.  If you plan your eating pleasures and compensations on a weekly basis, it’s hard to stray too far. American women I know tend to get defeated by lapses: ‘Oh well, I’ve blown the diet, might as well go for broke.’ A basic failure of logic. We’re all human; we all stray and return. French women do it too.  They simply understand better than others how to make amends.”

I also love Renee Stevens’ ideas on this subject when she discusses “self-correcting” on her podcast Inside-Out Weight Loss. She encourages listeners to not panic, not get overwhelmed with the problem, if you even want to call it that. But to just correct matters in the coming days for balance. Eat one day too heavy, eat the next 2 or 3 light. No worries. She mentions that this is what “naturally thin people” do all the time and that is one of their strategies to staying thin.


Just for the record, I am having such a day.  I did, in fact, eat 285 calories too much between two different days. So now I am in the midst of offsetting those issues.  We’ll see on Sat. if it pays off!


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