August 29, 2010
Most of us generally have the idea that some exercises burn more calories than others. We tend to believe that the more strenuous an exercise routine is, the more likely it is to burn more calories. Generally, that's true; however, I've discovered an exception to that rule. Did you know that walking at a 5 mile per hour (“mph”) pace burns as many if not more calories than jogging at the same pace? It has something to do with the effort it takes not to jog at 5 mph. I discovered that little factoid by accident when I overspent my weekly points and desperately tried to find workouts to earn exercise points.
You see, the way the WeightWatchers program works is that you are given a certain number of daily points based on your age, your weight, your level of activity and your sex (men get more daily points – it's not fair). Points are a calculation based on the calories, fat grams and fiber grams found in foods. You also receive 35 extra weekly points that you can use however you please. (I blew through almost all of my extra points last night on drinks, dinner and dessert at a swank South Beach restaurant).
Your daily points replenish every day and your weekly points replenish every week on the same day. You can't carry over unused points into the next day or week. As my WeightWatchers leader told us one day in class:”This is not Cingular ladies, we don't get rollover points.”
You can earn extra points by working out. So, if you are following WeightWatchers online, you would first use up your daily points, then go into your weekly points and, if you run out of those, you would dip into your exercise points. If you go over your daily points and you have no weekly points left and you didn't earn any exercise points during the week, your deficit points would appear in red at the top of the screen. If you are over by a few points, you can make them up by exercising. If your week ends and you are still at a deficit, then the scale is likely to show it on weigh-in day by either moving in the wrong direction or, if you're lucky, just not moving in the right direction.
My weekly points reload every Tuesday. One Sunday afternoon, upon waking up from a night of overeating, too many cocktails and debauchery, I realized that I had gone over my weekly points allotment by 20 points. I was in a panic. I only had two days to make up the deficit and I had no idea how I would be able to do enough exercise to rack up 20 exercise points in two days without working out for four hours straight each day (in my spare time) and killing my back. On the other hand, the WeightWatchers at Work program at my job had ended a few weeks prior (not enough participants to continue) and I had already crept up a pound since I had been on my own. I really didn't want the scale to tip even further in the wrong direction. Then I would be forced to start attending an outside class on the weekends in my spare time.
My only frame of reference for earning exercise points was the points I usually earned for the workouts that I normally did. I knew, for example, that if I did my bellydance workout video, I would earn three points. I also knew that if I did Leslie Sansone's “You Can Do Pilates” video or my Balletcise video, I would earn three points for each workout. I knew that if I did Leslie Sansone's typical in-home walking video workouts, I would earn roughly a point for every 15 minutes.
I didn't think I could do enough walking, bellydance and ballet workouts to earn ten points for two says in a row without keeling over or injuring myself. I went online to the WeightWatchers website for inspiration. What I learned was that some workouts earn more points (i.e. burn more calories) in shorter periods of time than others. I learned that I could earn 2 points for every twelve minutes of walking 5 mph (which is a 12 minute mile). I also learned that I could earn 5 points for every half hour of kickboxing and hip-hop dancing. I didn't have any hip-hop exercise videos, but I did have some half-hour kickboxing video workouts. I also vaguely recalled that some of Leslie Sansone's in-home walking videos had powerwalks that were faster than her other workouts. I checked online to see which of her videos featured 12 minute miles. To my delight, I discovered her 5 Mile Fat Burning Walk video, which runs for 65 minutes and features a warm up, five 12-minute mile walking workouts and a cool down. You can do the entire video and earn 10 points or you can earn 2 points for each mile you choose to do.
That day, I did a 45 minute bellydancing workout (The Goddess Workout) and Leslie Sansone's Walk Away the Pounds Express Super Challenge and earned 7 exercise points. The next morning, I did a half-hour kickboxing workout and earned 5 exercise points, leaving me a deficit of 8 points. After work, I ran to Target and picked up Leslie Sansone's 5 mile Fat Burning Walk DVD. I went home, had dinner and, an hour later, got up and did the workout. Even though I had done all that I could do, doubts plagued me. What if in-home walking was not as good a workout as walking outside? What if the 12 mph pace in the videos was somehow less than accurate? What if the kickboxing workout I did wasn't strenuous enough? After all, it wasn't a Billy Blanks Tae Bo workout. Could I really earn 20 exercise points in two days?
The next morning, I got on the scale and was two pounds lighter than I had been the week before. I learned two things about myself that week: (1) I can do anything, and (2) I'm even more obsessive than I ever imagined. 🙂
I hope that my experience inspires you. Let me know how it goes.